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Shocking Elimination

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"You guys raced hard. [I] Thought you'd be in the final three for sure."
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race (Season 19)

In competition-based Reality TV, certain contestants establish themselves as the front-runners very early in the season. They exude so much of the required skill needed to win, they've been the overwhelming favorite to win for a long time. It also helps that they're usually very likable. In fact, their victory is more or less a Foregone Conclusion.

And then, they're eliminated.

Often in a measly fourth place.

Expect a huge outcry on message boards claiming the show is rigged or stupid or something along those lines. Expect the cameras to pan over to the other contestants with their jaws scraping the floor. Expect the powerless judges to look utterly miffed.

This trope is, of course, less surprising on shows where the contestants themselves vote. Putting a voting alliance together to knock out apparently strong competitors is an expected aspect, and one can expect the nail that stands out to be hammered flat, so to speak.

Sometimes, the shockingly eliminated contestants will prove that they shouldn't have been eliminated with a very successful post-show career. Other times, they will try to make it big outside the show, but only prove that their elimination, as premature as it was, was ultimately justified.

Usually, a Shocking Elimination is linked to an Elimination Houdini, as the latter probably wouldn't exist without the former.

Sometimes may overlap with Non-Gameplay Elimination. Sometimes, an early favorite is actually eliminated because of factors out of their control. (Commonplace in shows such as Survivor where people often get hurt and are eliminated as a result of their injuries or ailment, or The Amazing Race where bad cabs often are a huge factor.) While the circumstances that leads to a Non-Gameplay Elimination can be shocking, it may just be the situation.

If an Elimination in a Fictional contest is treated as unexpected, it falls under Crack Defeat.


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  • In the road to The International 2016, OG had been considered the shoe-in favorite to win the Aegis, with two Major victories in Frankfurt 2015 and Manila 2016. With their star midlaner Miracle- becoming the first player to reach 9000 MMR, and the titles and teamwork to show for it, many thought it was a Foregone Conclusion that the European squad would dominate everyone in their path and take the Aegis. The group stage did show us that at first, finishing first with an 11-3 record, easily securing a spot in the Upper Bracket. They would face off against South Korea's MVP Phoenix, the only team who qualified for the Upper Bracket with a losing record of 6-8 (by sheer luck, the three teams below them were all 5-9). They would lose to MVP's extreme in-your-face style of Dota with their 5 melee RNG strat in Game 1, and their PA and Axe draft in Game 3, despite excellent drafts from captain Fly. Dropping down to the Lower Bracket, they'd face The Philippines's TNC Pro Team, quite possibly the underdog in this entire tournament. They would lose 2-0 thanks to a last-pick Huskar in Game 2 and albeit a great start from OG, the Filipinos would rally and make an amazing comeback, ending OG's run in TI at 9th-12th.

    Reality Television 
  • Almost every Elimination Houdini from American Idol got his or her status from outlasting at least one favorite to make the final two, if not win. These favorites include:
    • Tamyra Gray and Christina Christian (season 1, the latter getting help from the contestant being absent during her elimination). On Television Without Pity, "Tamyra'd" is the name of this trope for American Idol.
    • Frenchie Davis (season 2, due to disqualification)
    • Jennifer Hudson and Latoya London (season 3). Hudson, who placed eighth, wound up having the last laugh by having the biggest career of anyone that season, becoming one of the few people to win an EGOT.
    • Constantine Maroulis (season 4)
    • Mandisa and Chris Daughtry (season 5). Daughtry outdid the three who beat him in record sales, afterwards.
    • Melinda Doolittle (season 6)
    • Michael Johns and Carly Smithson (season 7)
    • Siobhan Magnus (season 9). The week after her elimination had the lowest amount of viewers in American Idol history.
    • Pia Toscano and James Durbin (season 10).
    • Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine (season 11).
    • Averted with Jessica Sanchez (season 12), who was saved immediately after she was about to be eliminated. She ultimately made it to the runner-up spot.
    • Olivia Rox (season 15).
  • Elimination Houdini Wendy Pepper made it to Fashion Week on the first season of Project Runway... over fan-favorite Austin Scarlett.
    • Going into Fashion Week on the third season, Mychael Knight was the overwhelming favorite. Instead, he was the first one eliminated.
    • More recently, Terri Stevens, who had never before been in danger, was eliminated, thanks to a double elimination episode.
    • Viktor Luna placing third in Season 9.
    • Rami Kashou, who came in second in season 4 and was heavily favored in All Stars, didn't make it close to the finale.
  • Tre Wilcox won three elimination challenges on Top Chef: Miami, more than anyone else. Yet he finished 8th, thanks to one bad dessert.
    • Kenny Gilbert was eliminated in very similar circumstances (taking the fall as Executive Chef in Restaurant Wars) in season 7, after being a prominent rival of front-runner Angelo throughout the season.
  • On season 2 of Shear Genius, Glenn placed in the top 3 on three elimination challenges and never appeared in the bottom three. Predictably, the other designers were shocked when she left in 7th place over Elimination Houdini Nekisa.
  • Sabrina Bryan on Season 5 of Dancing with the Stars was pegged to be a finalist even by host Tom Bergeron. She was eliminated about halfway through in 6th, before the two individual dance part of the competition. She got the axe again in the All-Star edition, finishing eighth despite placing in the top two in judge's votes.
    • Simone Biles in Season 24 getting knocked out in the semifinals, despite getting a perfect 80 points from her dances that night. The other contestant in the final two was former Cubs catcher David Ross, who scored the lowest in his dances that night, but may well have the most fan support in the history of the show.
  • Strictly Come Dancing has at least one of these every season, especially with the onslaught of older contestants with two left feet in recent series. The latest (and possibly most shocking) example of this was the elimination of Jimi Mistry in week 6 of series 8. Whilst not the best dancer, he had gotten his best score of the series in that week and was easily one of the more enthusiastic contestants. However,he lost out to Michelle Williams who had been in the bottom two 3 times previously.
    • Aston Merrygold in the 2017 series. He's a young boy and member of a boyband who once was a judge on a dance show and was a preshow favourite. One poorly marked dance later and he's booted in tenth place.
  • The elimination of Maria Lawson from The X Factor 2 and Laura White from The X Factor 5 was Serious Business.
    • And on the American version, the double elimination of Drew and Astro, as well as Rachel Crow in the following week was a huge shock to fans. Death threats were sent to Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul after Drew was voted off. Made worse by the fact that Elimination Houdini Marcus Canty was chosen twice; first over Drew by the judges and then over Rachel by the public vote.
    • Rachel's elimination was even worse than just being eliminated in favor of Marcus. Nicole Scherzinger, following in the footsteps of Paula Abdul who'd tried to abstain from a vote earlier in the season, voted to keep Marcus because she "didn't want to hurt his feelings". This sent it to deadlock and to the public vote.
    • Ella Henderson's elimination from The X Factor 9 also qualifies. From her first audition, Ella was considered THE favorite to win. In the final 6, she was up against: James Arthur, a highly talented singer/ guitarist and the second favorite, Jhamene Douglas, a handsome young singer with a strong voice and mass appeal, Union J, a One-Direction type boyband who gave a bad performance on the night, Rylan Clark, a camp joke act, and Christopher Maloney, a mediocre-at-best singer unpopular with the judges, but kept in by a legion of older fans. Most viewers expected that Ella would be safe against her mostly weak oppostion, but she ended up in the bottom 2 along with James. All four judges, and viewers everywhere, were horrified by this result, and the judges vote went to deadlock, with Ella going home. James went on to win.
  • In the UK charity version of The Weakest Link starring various Doctor Who actors, the first person eliminated, to most viewers' surprise, was Robot Buddy K-9. Justified because the producers told them to vote K9 off in case he broke down.
  • Big Brother
    • Jeff in Big Brother 11. There was a large outcry when he was eliminated.
    • Mike in Big Brother 5, on a smaller scale, mostly because he actually could have been quite the powerful player, but was evicted first. The same goes for Brian in 10, who several fans thought "Yeah, he and Dan are gonna win" only for him to be put up on the block as a replacement for Jessie in week one.
    • This actually happened a bit with All Stars, in which some of the fans' favorites had been eliminated early, such as Nakomis, Jase, Diane, and Kaysar.
    • Nikki Grahame getting eliminated from Big Brother 7 was a huge shock considering all the housemates had to face the public vote as punishment for Jayne Kitt's rule breaking (Jayne herself was exempt from eviction that week or else it might have been her who was eliminated). Aisleyne and Susie were the favorites to be evicted that week. Even more surprising was that when previously evicted housemates were given a shot to re-enter the house and have one last shot at the final, Nikki received the majority of the public vote. Then she finished in fifth place.
    • Will in Big Brother All-Stars basically dominated the whole season with his best friend Mike "Boogie", and everyone expected him to win. Then, in the final 4, the girls they were shomancing caught on to their lies and he was sent packing.
    • Nick in Big Brother 15 was a very savvy player, forming and all-male alliance, pointing out they had over a 25% chance of winning MVP, and even targeted the only physical threat outside of their alliance. Unfortunately, Candice & Helen figured out there was probably an all-guy alliance, and he ended up being the second one out the door.
    • From the first season of Big Brother Canada comes a shocking vote that's technically not an elimination—because it was the vote to decide the winner. Topaz has been one of Gary's closest allies, but when her key is removed from the box, it comes out as a vote for Jillian to win instead. Cue Topaz interrupting the votes to insist that there must be a mistake or that someone must have tampered with her vote. After a commercial break to review the footage, production decides that Topaz indeed accidentally voted for Jillian to win and that her vote would stand. The kicker? That single vote determined the winner.
  • Happens almost every season to a very strong competitor on So You Think You Can Dance, usually around the final 6 contestants. Danny in Season 3, Will Wingfield in Season 4, and most recently Janette in Season 5. The presenter, Cat Deeley, has sometimes been noticeably shocked when she reads the results. When Janette was eliminated, one of the judges even said that he had thought she'd win the whole thing.
    • And going way back, Allison in season 2. Watch the video. Mary's teary eyed, most of the other contestants are in shock (especially her former partner Ivan) and Travis is literally bawling.
    • Season 6' elimination of all three tap dancers. It's shocking because this was dubbed by the producers and judges as "Year Of The Tapper" and it came about because during the first two weeks of the show the audience wasn't even allowed to vote like they normally would have.
    • Sara Van Gillern getting eliminated in the top 8 of Season three over Elimination Houdini Lauren Gottleib. This was only the last of Lauren's antics with the season. Early favorite Jessi was eliminated to raucous response after not being able to dance the previous night over Lauren,who the judges even called out on actually dancing for only half the time she was given to dance for her life.
  • Chance's elimination on I Love Money. Who knew Pumpkin would actually have the guts to do something big besides trash talking?
  • On The Mole, being eliminated was referred to as "execution." In Celebrity Mole: Yucatan, the promos repeatedly promised a "shocking execution." Later, in the second season of The Joe Schmo Show, the promo at the end of each episode promised "the most shocking elimination yet." This may have been an intentional bit of a good-natured fun-poking at The Mole, as both programs were made by the same production company, Stone Stanley Entertainment. These promos continued for several episodes until finally they said "the most shocking elimination yet... and this time, we mean it," then finally dropped the gag.
  • The Finale of Tough Enough 2 had the two male performers, Jake and Kenny Layne, surprisingly lose to the female competitors Jackie and Linda, despite advertising that there would be one male and one female winner each.
    • Despite losing Tough Enough, Kenny has become fairly well known on the independent circuit as Kenny King.
  • The first season of WWE NXT (completely scripted) pulled an Ass Pull and eliminated Daniel Bryan on the first elimination (along with two others) when he had been the favorite to win the season. He ended up being kept on the show for his own storyline.
    • A more shocking elimination was AJ from season 3 where the fans voted for who they wanted on the show. At the time AJ was arguably the most popular rookie that season. Even wrestling critics were calling her elimination a miscarriage of justice. AJ would eventually return to the main roster as the tag partner of season 3's winner, Kaitlyn. The other shocking elimination of the season, runner up Naomi, would eventually resurface, but as one of Brodus Clay's backup dancers.
    • A less shocking example, but still an example, was Derrick Bateman from Season 4. He was generally considered to be the best in ring technician of that season's rookies, his over the top personality, and having the backing of the best wrestler of his generation made him the most consistently over. However, it's less of an example because he actually managed to make it to the final three, and the other two, Johnny Curtis and Brodus Clay, were considered to be fairly good as well, but many thought Bateman would last until the end.
    • Bateman, fully recovered from the injury that caused his elimination, was reinstated in the competition during season 5. As that season's gone off the rails, it's impossible to know if he'll win.
      • It could be argued that he was the de facto winner since all the others were either formally eliminated or moved to the main roster. Bateman was the only one that remained when NXT changed its format but he was released soon after and eventually ended up wrestling in TNA as EC3.
  • In the revival of WWE Tough Enough, early on, Mickael was in the bottom three alongside his hated rival, Ryan (whose biggest challenge for the show was overcoming the Embarrassing Nickname "Skidmark" given to him by, ironically, Bill Demott). In order to decide who was leaving, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin made them cut promos on one another. Mickael choked, and Ryan buried him. Everyone was stunned, but whether it was Mickael's failing or Ryan stepping up to the plate depends on who you ask.
    • On the 2015 show, there was Patrick Clark. Not a particularly well known figure in wrestling but still one of the more experienced competitors, he and Tag Team partner Lio Rush being the first graduates out of Maryland Championship Wrestling's academy and quickly gaining the attention of CZW, Ring of Honor and of course "Tough Enough". Though only Clark was chosen for the show(no surprises there) he consistently placed among the top rankings week after week...and then was eliminated for failing to learn the value of humility. No less than Mick Foley and Booker T argued that it proved the contest was based more on popularity than any other merits.
    • In the 2015 season, The Miz was brought in as a new judge to replace the disgraced Hulk Hogan. The final three for his first episode consisted of the out-of-shape fan favourite ZZ, generic blonde Amanda and then Mada, who was possibly the most well-rounded of the remaining competitors and who had real potential for a future in the wrestling business. Miz made the bizarre decision to use his once-per-season save on Amanda "because she's hot", leaving ZZ to win the public vote and thereby eliminated Mada.
  • From Canada's Worst Driver:
    • Season Two: Colin's expulsion was truly shocking, not only for the audience but for the other contestants.
    • Scott's expulsion in Season Six was a surprise as well, considering it happened so fast.
  • This happens in both seasons of Top Shot. JJ Racaza was favored to win throughout the whole competition, but places third after missing a shot against a target with a pistol that he chose. Season 2 has Jermaine and Daryl, current and former marines, respectively, eliminated by Jay Lim, a golf instructor and amateur shooter.
  • Ayako Miyake failed on the third stage during her fourth entry in Kunoichi. Given that Kunoichi is just as hard as its male counterpart, what makes this shocking? On her first three tries, she won the final stage.
  • The Glee Project has done this twice already in its first season.
    • In week six, Ryan eliminated Marissa (whom many people agreed on as one of the strongest singers and most likable competitors).
    • In week eight, he eliminated Hannah, whom he'd just praised as a great actress, likable, and "the show" in a nutshell. Both girls had also won the challenges for that specific week, and both competed against people who did much worse in the video shoot or in the "last chance performance" than they did.
    • It's happened again in season 2; Ryan just eliminated Shanna, who had reached the final 6 without ever being in the bottom 3 until the week of her ouster.
  • MasterChef has many of them. Keep in mind that a lot of factors contributed to the argument of why one's elimination is shocking to fans.
    • Monti from MasterChef US Season 3 was one of the most solid competitors, consistantly turning out dishes that seemed far beyond her experience level. However, on her first time up for elimination, she was removed from the show in favor of Josh who had been kicked off previously, made his way back onto the show, and been a fair-to-middling competitor since then. Moreover, he won an advantage earlier in the episode after winning mystery box challenge but squandered it.
    • Season 5 had a few:
      • Kira; in the donut challenge, she was eliminated over a problem with her dough that made her donuts a bit tough, and for not having enough filling, but her donuts were still edible. By contrast, Courtney ran out of yeast after messing up her first dough and found herself begging for more, and though a contestant kindly gave her more, she proceeded to completely wreck her donuts by confusing her ingredients, using salt instead of sugar, a basic yet enormous mistake that turned her donuts into an inedible salt bomb, but the judges still chose to keep her.
      • Francis B.; despite being considered one of the early frontrunners by both the judges and contestants, he was eliminated in episode 7 after failing to produce an acceptable plate of spring rolls. His were overly greasy and inconsistent, but Cutter, who had already been in danger of elimination twice, served spring rolls that seemed to be just as bad, due to being soft, overly sweet, and having virtually no dipping sauce (which the judges stressed as being important). Since Courtney was spared over Kira in episode 4 seemingly due to having shown more potential, some felt that the same should have happened for Francis B.
      • Christine; many chefs felt that Ahran's Red Team should have won the challenge anyways, and then that Christine showed far more potential and leadership capabilities than Leslie, a controversial homecook int hat season; Christine was eliminated due to her truffles looking perfect but being too bitter, while Leslie — who had been in the pressure test four times — had truffles that looked disgusting but apparently tasted decent. If anything, Christine seems to have been the victim of extremely bad luck, given that out of the six people who took part in that pressure test, she was the only one who produced truffles that actually tasted bad (nearly everyone else produced truffles that looked mediocre-to-bad but tasted decent, while Cutter of all people nailed both the taste and appearance).
    • Season 8 also had some:
      • Newton; Yachecia made all the components of her Champagne Poached Oyster dish, but the pasta was overcooked and badly kneaded. Newton made both his oysters and pasta perfect, but he couldn't open his caviar jar. Many argue that he should have stayed over Yachecia for nailing the most important ingredients and the caviar was the only component they didn't have to make from scratch. In a later interview, Newton revealed that he was weakened by his previous stroke (weakness he tried to cover during the competition), which ended up affecting him in the last moments.
      • Daniel. While he did make several technical errors on his truffles, a lot of fans argued that he should have stayed over Jeff and Yachecia as he's proven to be more consistent than the two. While Jeff's case is still case of a very vocal Broken Base, it's added to the argument that Yachecia narrowly avoided elimination despite having an incomplete box (previously Brien was eliminated for having only four out of six cannolis, while Newton did better components but couldn't add the caviar in the last minute).
      • Gabriel. It's a similar case with Daniel above. His cannelloni had a lot of technical errors, but he's proven to be a bit more consistent than Yachecia who was on her second time in the bottom twice in a row, and Ramsay called her chicken and pork tortellini to be a terrible combination and her tortellini was too thick.
    • In MasterChef Junior:
      • Sammy and Henry were the first to enter the Top 10 for a while, but following two team challenges (where in the first one, everyone else is also saved, and in the second one, only the team that neither Sammy nor Henry was in won) and a very tough elimination challenge in the very next episode, they both ended up eliminated (with Ariana).
  • Coupled with Elimination Houdini, many viewers of 2014's My Kitchen Rules were surprised and outraged to discover that the surfer dad team Paul & Blair lost the semi-finals to the token Alpha Bitches Chloe & Kelly. To a lesser extent, Greek twins Helena & Vikki were more favoured to win the second semi-finals than the proud mums Bree & Jessica.
    • In season 6, there is the Texan father & daughter, Robert & Lynzey Murphey. The two had been fan favourites from the very start of the show, and the two achieved the highest score in their first instant restaurant by a very large margin. Unfortunately, the fared rather poorly in their next challenges, and were sent to Sudden Death in their second People's Choice Challenge, where they were eventually eliminated for losing the Cook-off against Queenslanders Rob & Dave.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race:
    • Ongina from season 1 was eliminated after winning two challenges and placing high in the other two she competed in. This elimination was so hard that RuPaul had to actually step off set to think it through.
    • Jessica Wild from season 2, who placed consistently high and won the previous challenge. Even Tatianna, who had just won the lipsync, was shocked that Jessica was eliminated. Pandora Boxx's elimination shocked many as well since she had become a fan favorite.
    • Willam's elimination in Season 4 was arguably the most shocking, as she is the only person to be disqualified for breaking the rules, even though she consistently did very well through the season and actually won the challenge in the episode where she was eliminated.
    • Vivienne Pinay and Honey Mahogany's double elimination in Season 5, as it was the first in the show's history.
      • Laila McQueen and Dax ExclamationPoint's double elimination in season 8 as well.
    • BenDeLaCreme, a fan favorite and the first queen in Season 6 to win two challenges, being eliminated by Darienne Lake who had already lipsynced three times.
    • Max and Katya in season 7. Max was the first queen to win two challenges in Season 7, but lost due to one slip up during the Snatch Game. Katya had won or been high 6 of the 7 previous episodes and was a fan favorite to win.
    • From season 8, Acid Betty was eliminated after Snatch Game like Max, even though she had been high the first three weeks and safe week 4. Thorgy Thor had been high or safe every episode and was a fan favorite but was eliminated when she didn't even do poorly, she just didn't do as well as the other remaining queens. Derrick Berry's elimination wasn't shocking per se, but she was expected by many to make the Top 3 due to her fame as a Britney Spears impersonator, but unlike celebrity impersonators from previous seasons, Derrick was unable to break out of her "Britney box," which led to a shockingly mediocre showing.
    • This trope was inverted by Naomi Smalls and Chi Chi DeVayne, also from Season 8. In the preseason promos, both queens gave the impression that they'd be "filler queens" and many viewers expected them to be eliminated early. Instead, they both won a challenge each and placed higher than the three queens mentioned above, with Chi Chi reaching 4th place and Naomi making the Top 3. This is lampshaded by judge Michelle Visage, who admitted that she was not expecting the two of them to make it to the penultimate episode. Bob the Drag Queen and Kim Chi were always considered shoo-ins for the Top 3, but either Derrick, Thorgy, or Betty were expected to join them rather than Naomi.
    • Eureka in Season 9. After injuring herself in the cheerleading challenge, Eureka barely mentioned the injury and carried on as normal, until it became too much to bear and she had to do the entirety of episode five on crutches. After Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Farrah Moan lip-synced, it looked like RuPaul was gearing up to send one of them home, when she announced that Eureka would be leaving the competition to allow her injured knee to heal. Eureka did receive an open invitation to return to Season 10, however.
    • Valentina in Season 9. Up until her elimination episode, she had never lip synced, had a distinctive personality, and was respected by fans for her looks. She was a favorite to win. Then, after a "film a pilot" challenge where she and co-challenger Nina Bo'nina Brown pretty much sleepwalked through prep and turned in a (very clearly) improv'd pilot, both were up for elimination, with Valentina lip syncing for the first time ever against Nina, who'd lip synced before. And then Valentina refused to take off her mask from her runway look during the sync, which clearly netted scorn from RuPaul - and when she did, it became clear she hadn't learned the words to the song. And that's how she left the show.
    • Shea Couleé in Season 9. With four wins, Shea looked like the clear choice for the crown, that is until the lip-sync for the crown finale twist was introduced. Shea was put against her best friend Sasha Velour, and Sasha ended up completely demolishing her with a cascade of rose petals falling from her wig.
    • The uproar from Aja's All Stars 3 elimination was very bad. Aja had been performing very well up until her elimination, winning the first challenge and redeeming herself from her mediocre Season 9 run. While fans believed that Aja's runway look was deserving of the win, the judges didn't agree and put Aja in the bottom, where she was eliminated by challenge winner Bebe Zahara Benet, who Aja helped make her winning look. Aja even had to step in after the episode aired and tell fans not to send hate to Bebe.
    • BenDeLaCreme, yet again, in All Stars 3. A slight subversion in that her elimination was only shocking to everyone else - including the judge panel - as she self-eliminated (according to the rules) as she felt that the competition had become too dramatic and confrontational and that another queen deserved a chance for the top spot. This promptly earned her the Fan Nickname of "BenDeLaChrist".
    • Shangela in All Stars 3. Again, like with Shea, she had the most wins and a lot of fan support leading up to the finale episode. Then the jury twist was introduced, where all the eliminated queens would vote for the top two. Shangela didn't make the cut, with the fans ending up completely outraged as a result.
    • Season 10 had Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, eliminated on the premiere episode up against Kalorie Karbdashian-Williams. The edit of the episode, as well as the critiques, lead to fans believing that Kalorie was the clear choice for the first elimination, that is until the lip-sync happened. Kalorie ended up completely turning it out, and Vanessa was sent home much to the shock of the fans. Luckily for Vanessa, her memeable exit and the fan-reaction led to her returning the next season and just missing out on the finals.
    • Mayhem Miller in Season 10. Mayhem started off strong, winning the first challenge after auditioning so many times to finally get on Drag Race. By episode five, Mayhem was put in the bottom two against Monét X Change and ended up going home. A majority of the fans were shocked by Mayhem's early elimination, believing that she didn't deserve to be in the bottom two in the first place and some believed she even beat Monét in their lip-sync.
    • Season 10 also had Miz Cracker, a comedic queen and a fan favorite who had just won her first challenge the previous week, she ended up being eliminated on her first week in the bottom two up against Kameron Michaels, who was on her third consecutive lip-sync.
    • Yet another Season 10 elimination, Asia O'Hara in the first round of the Season 10 lip-sync finale. Asia was largely seen as one to beat going into the finale, and in an attempt to replicate the magic of Sasha Velour's rose petals gag, Asia decided to release live butterflies. The one issue? The butterflies refused to fly and sort of ended up scattered around the stage, her gag completely failed on her and she was taken out of the running.
    • Manila Luzon in All Stars 4. After winning three challenges and cementing herself as a front-runner, challenge Naomi Small decided to eliminate Manila on her first slip-up in the makeover episode instead of Latrice Royale, who had previously already been eliminated and returned to the competition in a twist. Safe to say, the fans, judges, and even the fellow queens were gagged to see Manila go home.
    • Scarlet Envy and Shuga Cain from Season 11 were both seen as "robbed" queens from their season, having shocking and controversial eliminations. Scarlet's elimination was controversial as fans believed that she did better than Ra'Jah O'Hara in their lip-sync, and even pointed out that Scarlet had been performing better than Ra'Jah in the competition as a whole. Shuga, on the other hand, had been flatlining through the competition, but during the magic challenge she had a rather good showing and fans believed the was one of the best of the week. Shuga ended up being eliminated that episode, much to the annoyance of the fans.
    • Nina West in Season 11. While her makeover showing wasn't good, fans assumed that when put in the bottom two against Silky Nutmeg Ganache, a queen who had been flatlining recently, Nina would be saved. Nina and Silky's stats were the same, with two wins each and zero lip-syncs until this episode. After a lackluster lip-sync, Silky was saved and Nina was sent packing, much to the outrage of fans.
    • The first season of Drag Race UK had Blu Hydrangea, a fan favourite who had been performing rather well throughout the competition. Fans believed that Cheryl Hole, the queen she was up against, should have been eliminated instead, while some believed that Baga Chipz, a queen who had also landed in the bottom during the challenge but was saved from lip-syncing, should have lip-synced instead of Blu. Fans also pointed out the suspicious nature of Blu having to lip-sync against Cheryl Hole, a Cheryl Cole impersonator, to a Cheryl Cole song in front of Cheryl Cole herself.
    • Season 12 had Rock M Sakura, a fan favorite from the minute the cast was revealed. While fans thought her effervescent personality and strong runway looks would carry her to the finale, Rock ended up being eliminated on the fourth week, placing twelfth overall. The fan outcry following Rock's elimination was astronomical. To a lesser extent, eighth-placer Jan was also a shocker, with fans believing she didn't deserve to be in the bottom two over frontrunners Gigi Goode or Sherry Pie, although they admitted that Jan was beaten in the lip-sync fairly by Widow Von'Du.
    • All Stars 5 saw the returns of Ongina and Alexis Mateo, both of whom were formidable opponents in their original seasons, with Ongina even being one of the first shock eliminations of the franchise. Ongina was eliminated early, giving a lackluster performance in both episodes she was on, while Alexis Mateo skated through to the top five and was eliminated without a challenge win. While fans thought their eliminations were justified, they couldn't help but feel shocked to see two powerhouses go home without even winning a challenge.
    • Season 13 had Denali, a fan favorite and powerhouse performer who had won one of the first challenges and delivered a well-received lip-sync performance early on. Fans expected Denali to demolish her lip-sync against Olivia Lux, however, clearly she was restrained by her gown and as a result her performance fell flat, leading to her surprising elimination in eighth place.
    • The second season of Drag Race UK had a lot of shock eliminations. The first episode had Joe Black, a popular queen who fans believed didn't deserve to be in the bottom two in the first place, leading to an online outcry. While Joe returned later in the season, she ended up eliminated that very same episode. The third episode had Asttina Mandella, who had won the first challenge and had bragged about her dance skills a lot, leading to fans and the queens believing that as soon as she landed in the bottom, she'd lip-sync her way out of it with ease. Nonetheless, Asttina ended up losing the lip-sync to Tia Kofi, and the reactions in the background from the other girls was an absolute picture. Episode four had Ginny Lemon, who walked off during her lip-sync against Sister Sister and quit the competition. The next episode, after a seven-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Veronica Green was eliminated on medical grounds as she had been infected with the virus (although she was given an invitation to Season 3). Episode eight had A'Whora, who had the best track record of the season leading up to her elimination and seemed like a sure finalist, after a lackluster performance in the comedy challenge, she was eliminated against Tayce, leading to fan outcry as they believed that Ellie Diamond, a queen who had also bombed the comedy challenge and had been seen as "coasting through" by fans and queens alike, should have lip-synced over A'Whora.
    • The first season of Drag Race Down Under had Art Simone. Art is a legend in the Australian drag scene, so much so that the queens clearly thought Art was a clear frontrunner for the crown. Art's run was cut short in episode two after a lackluster Snatch Game performance as Bindi Irwin and losing the lip-sync to Coco Jumbo. The queens reactions in the background when Art was eliminated said it all, nobody expected her to go home so soon, especially not Art, who broke down backstage trying to process her elimination. While Art *does* return later on in the competition, her initial elimination is still a gag moment for the cast.
    • Also from Down Under, Anita Wig'lit's elimination. Having performed well in the previous three challenges and won the prestigious Snatch Game challenge, Anita seemed like a lock-in for the finale. Anita ended up going home on the fourth episode, much to the shock of the fans and fellow queens, most of whom ended up emotional and upset watching Anita sashay away.
    • Keta Minaj from Drag Race Holland had won three challenges and was the statistical front-runner, but found herself knocked out at the final four, much to the shock of viewers. The even more shocking part was her lip-sync opponent, Vivaldi, had broken the rules the week prior and not been disqualified, which caused even more of an uproar over Keta's elimination.
    • Victoria Scone on the third series of Drag Race UK was the first ever cisgender female drag queen to compete on the franchise, and a strong showing in the first week marked her as a queen to beat. However, her historic run was cut unbelievably short after she sustained an injury during a lip-sync, knocking her out by the third week with a sort of vague invitation to the fourth series.
    • Choriza May and River Medway were two of the biggest fan favourites during the third series of the UK edition, so their double elimination lip-sync did NOT go down well with the fan-base.
    • In the fourteenth season of the American Drag Race, Kornbread emerged as an early front-runner for the crown, winning the first week and becoming a fan fave almost immediately. All of this was cut short when she injured her ankle during an acting challenge, and the following week she was forced to drop out of the competition on doctor's orders.
    • The first series of the international All Stars spin-off, UK vs. The World, had two back-to-back. The first was Jimbo, who won the first two challenges back to back, only to be chopped by Pangina Heals on week three after a poor showing in the Rusical challenge. The second shocking elimination was Pangina herself, eliminated by Blu Hydrangea after Snatch Game, and even the judges were taken aback by this one, as the whole cast and some of the judges sobbed as Pangina shuffled off stage in tears, Blu herself even seemed like she instantly regretted her choice.
  • Ink Master has had a few:
    • Season 2's Jessie Smith had a pretty good run throughout the season, winning two elimination challenges and several flash challenges, while avoiding the bottom. That was, until he was faced with his Achilles' heel, portraits. While the result of his portrait spelled his elimination long before the jury came to an agreement, it was, in fact, quite unexpected that he would get eliminated in fifth place.
    • Craig Foster from season 3. After winning two of the first four challenges of the season, being given an honourable mention for the other two, and being openly declared by the judges as "the man to beat", it was a massive shock to see him eliminated in 8th place.
    • Joshua Hibbard in Season 5. Despite winning best tattoo of the day more times than all of his opponents combined, including being declared as having the best chances at the Final 8 of his season, after it had came to light that he had broken some of the show's rules by bringing recreational drugs onto the set, he was disqualified from the game just hours after being declared as having the best performance in the challenge for the fourth time.
    • Season 7 had Jessie Smith, who got eliminated in sixth place, despite his decent run up until then. The fact that he got eliminated in a direct duel with Anthony Michaels, that season's Ink Master, took some of the edge off the elimination, but it was still unexpected. The fact that his Season 2 elimination was quite shocking as well, made this a case of history repeats.
    • Season 7 also had James Vaughn, who had spent most of his run among the top contenders, before losing out in the final four against Cleen Rock One (the season's runner up)
    • Eric Gonzalez was the first person picked out of 30 potential artists in the team picks at the start of Season 8, and despite having been declared as having given one of the best tattoos of the day in 3/5 challenges up to that point and having never been in the bottom, after one subpar performance due to contracting a cold, he was eliminated in 9th place.
    • The ninth season had Black Anchor Tattoo, who were considered one of the front runners at the start of the season, facing elimination after a poor performance in episode three, which shocked most contestants (and themselves even the most, probably). The fact that they were eliminated in favor of Tri-Cities Tattoo (who faced elimination for the thrid time in a row) made the elimination sting even more.
    • Season 9 also had the elimination of Golden Skull Tattoo (Cleen Rock One and Aaron Is), while they were in the final five (due to something called "Thumb-gate"note  by the fans). Considering that Cleen Rock One never got eliminated before (finishing twice in two different season), this was quite a shock for everyone, which was even acknowledged by the other contestants (who considered Golden Skull a finalist from the moment they entered the competition) and the judges (who stated that any team, no matter how good, was merely one mistake away from elimination).
    • Season 11's Chris Shockley had quite a shocking elimination as well, as (up to that point) he was the only member from team Christian to win an elimination challenge, as well as the only member of his team to avoid the bottom until then. The most shocking part, however, was the way he was eliminated: he lost a head-to-head against Teej Poole (one of his team mates), who, during the subsequent elimination face-off, started to advocate for the other two members of the bottom three to stay (both members of team Christian as well), essentially stabbing Chris in the back. Chris was not amused with the way his team did him in and even called them out on it during the season finale.
    • While he did make it to the finals stage, no one expected that Tiffer Wright would come in third in season 11. This was, in particular, because he had been the front runner throughout the season (with three individual wins and several top 2 spots), as well as being mentioned as "The guy to beat" by the judges (and even by Christian, the opposing coach). When he was eliminated in third place, he even got support from Tony Medellin (that season's Ink Master), who stated that Tiffer "absolutely had what it takes to be an Ink Master".
    • Season 13 even gave the judges the possibility to prevent this trope, by giving them "Pardons", which could be used to save a single candidate from elimination. These "Pardons" were well-used, as one of the pardoned artists made the top 3 eventually (while she would have fallen under this trope otherwise).
    • Nevertheless, Jerrel Larkins became the victim of this trope, despite his "Pardon". While he managed to rack up the most wins of the season (five in total), as well as avoiding the bottom most of the time, he eventually ended up in fourth place, merely a hair behind Jimmy Snaz (who advanced to the finale). The fact that he was eliminated together with his team mate Kelly Severtson (who also had a good run up til then) made his elimination even more shocking, as an entire team was eliminated right before the finale.
  • In Battle for Dream Island, we have Teardrop, who managed to fall under this category twice. In season 1, she was picked by the contestants to be eliminated over Snowball, despite having 5 votes in the elimination against the latter's 18. In season 2, she got the prize on her first elimination, but also had the most dislikes due to AnimationEpic (under an alt named Derpy Hooves) asking his subscribers to vote her, and ended up in measly 20th place. Fortunately, she is currently having a third run.
    • Loser's elimination In-Universe.
    • This will only apply if you like Pin, but also in Season 1, she decided to use her win token at the last minute, resulting in the Announcer calling her out and saying she used it too late, resulting in her elimination anyways. Had she used it properly, she would’ve stayed, and Pen would’ve been eliminated instead.
  • Eurovision Song Contest:
    • Technically, this one is Older Than They Think: in 1996, for the first and only time, every country interested in potentially competing sent their selected entries to an un-televised pre-qualifying round, from which twenty-two songs would join host country Norway's at the final. This system obviously couldn't last, as it was relatively cruel to make a country go through the usual song-and-dance of holding a national final when they wouldn't even have a guarantee of performing on the contest stage at all, but the nail in the coffin was that one of the eliminated contestants was Germany's Leon, whose song "Planet of Blue" seemed poised for success at the contest due to its modern sound (much like the UK's more successful Gina G and "Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit"). Germany had never missed a contest before, had one of the largest Eurovision audiences (if not the largest), and were the EBU's biggest financial backers, so eliminating them cost a lot of potential viewers (although Germany still broadcast the final) and caused fears about budgeting. The EBU would introduce a new means of qualification the next year, but Germany wouldn't even have to worry there, as they would soon join the other major EBU financial contributors (Spain, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as Italy later on) in automatically qualifying for the final every year, regardless of the previous year's result.
    • The first really shocking semi-final elimination came in 2006, when Belgium's Kate Ryan, who had been a favorite to win with her song "Je t'adore," only finished twelfth in the semi. Likewise, Poland's Ich Troje, who had previously finished top ten in 2003 and were expected to do well once again, finished one spot ahead of Belgium, only six points behind tenth-placed Macedonia.
    • 2007 saw a whupping for the "Eurovision Old Guard": the only country with a long-established Eurovision reputation that wasn't pre-qualified and made it was Turkey, while the remaining Nordics (Denmark, Iceland, and Norway), the majority of Central and Western Europe (Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland), and other long-time competitors (Cyprus, Israel, Malta) were pushed aside. It had also looked like an opening for perennially-unlucky Andorra to finally squeeze through with their well-received pop-punk song "Salvem el mon," but just narrowly missed the cut in twelfth place. Complaints about the Balkans and Eastern European countries pushing other countries aside led to the semis being split into two the following year.
    • 2008: Sweden narrowly averted this, as in spite of returning champ and possible contender Charlotte Perelli (formerly Nilsson) only finishing twelfth in her semi, a jury's saving throw allowed her to reach the final. Less lucky were Macedonia's Tamara, Vrčak, and Adam, who finished tenth in the public vote but were snubbed by the juries in Perelli's favor (the juries, however, would be Tamara's saving grace when she returned to compete solo eleven years later). Switzerland, a major fan-favorite, also bowed out prematurely, as did San Marino, whose debut became Vindicated by History as one of their better entries but finished dead-last in their semi.
    • 2009: Macedonia was once again spited by the juries after the public placed them tenth, with the saving throw being awarded to Waldo's People from Finland. Likewise, Croatia's Igor Cukrov and Andrea earned the judge's save in the second semi over the previous year's host country, Serbia. Other than that, there weren't many surprises in the semis, save for the Czech Republic's becoming only the second country to not receive any points in a semi-final.
    • 2010: Like San Marino and Andorra before them, Slovakia's Kristina with "Horehronie" became a big fan-favorite after the fact, but couldn't end their non-qualification streak, finishing second-last in the first semi. Finland striking out in the same semi was also considered a surprise. But the true shocking elimination came in the second semi, as usually-lucky Sweden failed to impress Europe with Anna Bergendahl's "This is My Life," leading to their first and only (to date) non-qualification.
    • 2011: The first year where multiple countries that usually got lucky struck out. The first semi, in particular, saw both Armenia and Turkey lose their 100% qualification streak, after both countries had finished in the top ten for the last four years. In the second semi, Israel's returning champ Dana International couldn't replicate her 1998 success or Perelli's good luck, as she became the first returning winner to not qualify for the final. Making things more nail-biting was that in both semis, the tenth-placed qualifier was only one point ahead of the eleventh-placed country, with Switzerland's 55 beating out Malta and Armenia's 54 and Moldova's 54 beating out Belgium's 53 - the closest finishes to date. Until...
    • 2012: Norway and Bulgaria both received the tenth-highest score of 45 points. Thanks to tie-breaking rules, the language-hopping "Love Unlimited" from Bulgaria's Sofi Marinova lost the coveted ticket to Tooji from Norway. Perhaps she took satisfaction in seeing Norway bottom out the scoreboard for a record eleventh time once they actually made the final.
    • 2013: Subverted, for the first time in years, by the Netherlands, who had found themselves seemingly doomed to semi-final purgatory for eight years in a row until Anouk broke the streak and then some with her song "Birds," which brought them to the top ten in the final and kicked off a near-uninterrupted (save for 2015) run of qualifications, culminating with a Dutch victory in 2019. Played straight with Montenegro's Who See in the first semi-final and the double whammy of San Marino's Valentina Monetta (back for her second of three consecutive appearances) and Israel's Moran Mazor in the second, all of whom were favorites to bring their respective countries back to the final. Additionally, it was the first time ever that every competing former Yugoslav republic failed to qualify for the final, with Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia joining Montenegro on the bench.
    • 2014: While Montenegro and San Marino finally earned their first qualifications in a smaller-than-usual field, it still was by a very tight margin for Valentina: her song beat Portugal's by a single point in the first semi. In the second semi, Israel's Mei Finegold, another major fan-favorite and possible contender for the win, found herself finishing second-to-last, which led Israel to revamp their selection system and return to the final the following year.
    • 2015: Denmark became the fourth country to strike out the year after hosting (following Latvia in 2004, Serbia in 2009, and Norway in 2011), while the Netherlands' promising two years of rebounding screeched to a halt when Trijntje Oosterhuis (and her questionable choices in wardrobe) struck out in the first semi. Ireland's Molly Sterling, also a favorite to return her country to the final, just missed out as well, as did Malta's fan-favorite Amber.
    • 2016: A shocking double-whammy of first-time non-qualifiers, as both Bosnia and Herzegovina (returning to the contest for the first time in four years, and the last time to date) and Greece missed out for the very first time. It was also a bad year for the Nordic countries, as all besides Sweden (who automatically qualified as the host country) failed to advance (and within them, Iceland and Norway were both favorites to qualify). Compare this to Sweden's last hosting gig in 2013, when all four managed to advance.
    • 2017: While not exactly related to qualification, it was the third year in a row where a country with a spotless qualification record was absent from the contest entirely (Ukraine in 2015, Romania in 2016, and Russia this time). Several major fan-favorites lost their expected slots in the final, with the most egregious examples being Finland's Norma John, Estonia's Kooit Toome and Laura, and Switzerland's Timebelle. Meanwhile, Latvia's Triana Park, who were considered contenders for at least the top ten, shockingly found themselves at the bottom of the scoreboard in the first semi.
    • 2018: Considered by fans to be the most difficult qualification round in Eurovision history, there were inevitably several dark horses and huge shocks. The first semi-final, in particular, has been dubbed by fans as the "Semi-Final of Death," often described as an "absolute bloodbath." The vast majority of the first semi's entries were well-received, so it was extremely difficult to tell who would advance and who wouldn't. Ultimately, it was bad news for Belgium, who had notched three top ten finishes in a row and were looking set for a fourth before shaky vocals and poor staging sent Sennek home early. Armenia and Greece were out of the game for only the second time in their respective histories, while Azerbaijan missed the final for the first time after ten straight years of uninterrupted qualifications (or, in 2012, automatic qualification as the host country). Additionally, Switzerland found themselves denied of a potential rebound for the second year in a row.
      • The second semi was considered a bit more of an even split between good and bad entries, but there were still shocks to be had. Romania and Russia both received their first-ever non-qualifications, likely due to unusually poor staging choices for the usually-successful countries (and a notably poor vocal from Russia's Julia Samoylova, who didn't really have her heart in it after being constantly manipulated by the Russian delegation and missing her ticket to represent them in Kiev the year before). The only other notable non-qualifier in the second semi was Poland, who had managed to turn a poor qualification record around for four years running until just missing out in 2018.
    • 2019: For the second year in a row, there were many examples of countries with poor qualification records rebounding (The four nations with the longest runs of non-qualification at the time - Iceland, North Macedonia, Switzerland and San Marino (NM were last in the final in 2012, the other 3 last in the main show in 2014)- all ended these losing runs in Tel Aviv) as well as the Czech Republic scoring their first-ever back-to-back qualifications), but a few more of heavy favorites exiting prematurely. The most notable ones in the first semi were Poland's Tulia and Portugal's Conan Osiris, both big fan-favorites for their rather unusual offerings. While the former came desperately close to claiming a spot in the final (missing by two points to Belarus), Portugal wound up polarizing voters, with the juries placing him last in spite of neighborly top marks from France and Spain's televotes. Additionally, Hungary's nine-year qualification streak came to an end when returning contestant Joci Papai (who had brought them their most recent top-ten finish two years prior) couldn't live up to the past hype (meaning that of the five returning contestants, he was the only one to miss the final - and ironically enough, he and Russia's Sergey Lazarev were the only ones that had qualified on their previous attempts!).
      • The second semi was considered the stronger of the two, which meant, like the first semi in 2018, there were bound to be at least a few shocking misses. Ultimately, Romania and Armenia found themselves with two non-qualifications in a row for the first time, which was embarrassing for both but especially so for Romania, given that they had a spotless track record prior to 2018, though Armenia fared worse despite being seen as a potential top 10 entry from a nation that is very well-liked by fans, until the bereft staging was revealed - it placed 3rd bottom in the heat, 3 places below Romania. Lithuania's Jurij Veklenko, whose song was considered a borderline qualifier, played this very straight, as only one point kept him from qualifying over Denmark. Additionally, while the non-qualification didn't come as a shock to many fans given its low-key nature, Austria's entry was sent home for the first time since 2013.
    • In December 2020, after a year with no Eurovision due to Covid, Eurovision Again hosted a live streamed Eurovision involving the best songs not to qualify (though nations who failed to qualify just once, such as Azerbaijan, Russia and Sweden, were ineligible), with 26 songs, one from each country. This list ranged from Slovenia in 2005, and Belgium and Monaco in 2006, to Switzerland and Greece in 2018, and Romania and Poland in 2019 (failures to qualify from Albania, Armenia, Austria, Cyprus, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Serbia didn’t feature, even though they have had some popular ones, such as Armenia’s in 2019). Whilst it placed below unfavoured Montenegrin and Sanmarinese entries in its heat that year in real life, Iceland’s 2016 entry Hear Them Calling won this online contest of sorts - this in the year many, particularly in the Periphery Demographic who watch the show on final night only, hoped the country’s prospective act in the actual contest over this period, Dadi-Gagnamagnid would win the contest that was cancelled (though they placed 4th when they partook in Eurovision for once and all).
    • In 2021, Semi final 1, Australia were eliminated for the first time, not helped by travel restrictions forcing Montaigne’s pre-recorded live on tape performance to be passed off as her actual one rather than perform on-stage, whilst Croatia uniquely failed to qualify with their popular song placing inside the top 10 in both televote and jury lists, but more narrowly in both than the 3 entries who were in the top 10 in only one of the lists, and hence fell 5 points short. Romania were also a shock Semi final one elimination, as their act Roxen had elicited a lot of fan hype in their proactive, rapidly-developing career, and had been expected to fare well in 2020. Heat 2 had fewer shock eliminations (as the moderately well liked Czech and Latvian songs delivered terrible on-stage performances, and hence their eliminations were seen as deserved), though Denmark failed to qualify from last slot, only the 4th in all in the 2-heat format (after Netherlands in 2009, Serbia in 2013 and Latvia in 2017), specifically due to an abysmal jury score (and not due to being their first own language entry in the contest proper since 1997, as only one country didn’t give the song televotes), and were the only Nordic nation not to be in the final, the first time since 1996 this happened.
    • 2022: several unexpected and/or unpopular eliminations occurred in semi final 1, when Albania’s Ronela Hajati, Austrian DJ Lum!X (who had 2 major Spotify hits in the previous year) and Latvian Citi Zeni (with their sexually explicit ode to veganism and environmentalism) were eliminated, with Ronela a particular shock. Fans had been long desperate for Albania to utilise its reggaeton scene, rather than select power ballads that are marginal qualifiers every year, and were delighted when they got their desired entry, from Ronela, the most followed act in the heat. However, not helped by controversy over her provocative style, and difficulties in the rehearsals, she failed to qualify despite widespread fan support. Second semi final exits weren’t as surprising but, whilst they weren’t seen as having a chance until rehearsals, the Irish, Israeli and San Marinese eliminations were unpopular. The Cypriot song was initially popular, but later rehearsals and live performances were poor and it was also eliminated. Israel and Cyprus had both been in every final from 2015-2021 inclusive when the event was held, with their title battle in 2018 having been one of the show’s most iconic
  • Dragula: The elimination of Dahli in Season 2 Episode four was viewed as this by some fans. Up until that episode, she was always among the top contenders even if she was never a winner. While she did perform extremely poorly in the elimination, many fans expected the Boulets to give her another chance in the face of contestants with a much higher loss-win ratio. The elimination was controversial enough that the Boulets commented on it in a subsequent episode.
  • In Strip Search, judges Mike and Jerry were incredibly impressed by the comic strips that both Tavis and Lexxy had created, but after much angsting eventually decided to eliminate Lexxy. In the next elimination between Nick and Mac, they had a hard time deciding again but this time because they didn't like either submission. They eventually declared that the winner that round was Lexxy — they declared "Screw the Rules, I Make Them!" and sent both Nick and Mac home while reinstating Lexxy, since they felt she had proven herself more qualified than either of them.
  • The Masked Singer:
    • The Lion was seen as someone to beat along with Peacock and Bee for almost all of season 1, yet missed out on the finale by one episode.
    • The Black Widow being outed as Raven-Symoné in Week 7 of Season 2 prompted conspiracies among fans that she'd asked the panel to vote against her so she could recuperate from her injury, as she was generally seen as one of the strongest singers who'd received rave reviews from the judges beforehand.
    • Also from season 2, when Butterfly and Thingamajig faced of in a Smackdown, many fans thought that the former won by a landslide with her take on "Believer", which is still considered to be one of the best songs ever sung in a Smackdown, yet the judges cut her in favor of Thingmajig.
    • Despite a few bumps earlier in the season, the Leopard's performance of "Big Spender" in the Season 2 semi-finals was so spectacular, many people were shocked that he was sent home — including the panelists!
    • Season 3 delivered a one-two Gut Punch - in episode 3 we lose Miss Monster, Living Legend-class singer Chaka Khan, and just two weeks later, it's the Mouse, an even bigger legend, Dionne Warwick!
      • Perhaps a more downplayed version in the Season 3 quarter-finals, as everyone brought their A-game at that point, but it’s Kitty, one of the vocally strongest singers that season, who gets eliminated that night. And it’s Jackie Evancho, which explains her vocal power.
    • Perhaps most shocking yet, in the Season 4 Group B qualifiers, the Gremlin decides to eliminate himself (he claims his costume was too uncomfortable, but it’s very likely he would have been eliminated anyway).
    • Seahorse was seen as a top contender, and was expected to make the finals, if not win the whole shebang. She would fall just one episode short of the finale.
    • Season 5 continues the trend with the Russian Dolls, who, despite being very good at their songs, get taken out in the quarterfinals.
    • The elimination of Pufferfish in the second episode of Season 6 became this once she was revealed to be Toni Braxton. The other singers also seemed to feel this way, going off how shocked they were when Pufferfish was announced to be going home.
    • Pepper had been a strong performer ever since she debuted as a wild card, being a clear front runner of Group A along with Bull. Many had assumed that she was an easy lock for the Group A finale, only for her to be taken out in the semifinals.
    • The week after that, it's Skunk, one of the strongest and most consistent performers all season, who falls short just one step away from the finals.
    • The week after that, it's Banana Split who falls after a season of strong and unique performances and who many had pegged as finale bound for almost the whole season.

  • FIFA World Cup (Association Football):
    • In 2002, France didn't make it past the first round, despite winning the previous World Cup, in 1998. And it was in true Epic Fail fashion, being eliminated without so much as scoring a goal!
    • In 2010, defending champions Italy also crashed in the group stage, managing to score fewer points than New Zealand.
    • In 2014, Spain was eliminated in the first round, despite having one of the stronger teams and being the winner of the previous World Cup.
    • The 2018 qualifiers had two: Italy, one of the most successful national teams in the history of the World Cup; and the United States, ending a streak of at least showing up since 1990.
    • Germany in 2018, even given for a clear decline in form and the retirement of all their true leaders prior to the World Cup, as they hadn't exited in its first round since just before World War II began.
    • In recent years however, it has been seen as less of a shock, and more of a curse afflicting European winners since the turn of the millennium, as every European country to win the World Cup got eliminated in the group stage of the next one, while the Lone South American winner (Brazil in 2002) made it to the quarter-finals in 2006.
    • 2022 presented again the same dose of unexpected elimination: Italy, right after winning the European Cup, failed again to qualify; Germany again failed to pass the group stage; Spain was eliminated by the surprise Morocco after the penalty kicks at round of 16, and so did Portugal at round of 8 after beating Switzerland by 6-1 scaring everybody. Argentina initially seemed doomed to the same after losing against the less famed Saudi Arabia during the starting match, but later managed to get to the semi-finals. And eventually becoming champions.
    • Also of note is that before 2000, both times a team won consecutive World Cups, that team would also be eliminated in the group stage of the tournament after the second win. Although in Italy's case, that could be justified by the Superga disaster killing their best players.
  • In the NCAA Men's basketball tournament, a team with a 1 seed is considered one of the four best teams in the tournament field, and in the first round they play a 16 seed, considered one of the four worst teams in the field. Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 16 seeds had been 0-135 against 1 seeds by 2018, but then the ultimate Shocking Elimination happened when 16 seed University of Maryland-Baltimore County defeated Virginia, the overall #1 seed (and thus, considered the single best team in the tournament). Even crazier, the game turned into a Curb-Stomp Battle, with UMBC running away with a 74-54 shocker.
    • The second 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed, Purdue in 2023, was an even bigger shock because they lost to Fairleigh Dickinson, a team that technically didn't even belong in the tournament; FDU had lost the Northeast Conference tournament championship to Merrimack, but since Merrimack was still in the middle of upgrading their athletic program from Division II to Division I, they weren't eligible for the tournament, so the NCAA awarded the conference's bid to FDU. And FDU led for a good portion of the game; Purdue's largest lead was 6 points. The game improved the all-time 16 vs. 1 record to 2-150.
  • The Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: All four number one seeds get upset by a wild card in the first round, the first time that's ever happened in any of the Big 4 sports. Even more shocking is that one of those number one seeds, the Tampa Bay Lightning, had the winningest season ever (62 wins, matching the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings), and managed to be swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had never won a round in two decades! (This was so unprecedented that the NHL, who runs a bracket contest every year, had to run a Second Chance Bracket contest for the first time because practically every entry in the first contest was broken.)
  • This trope is baked into the postseason structure of the National Football League. As is said, a team can win on "any given Sunday."note 
    • As of 2021, fourteen teams are guaranteed entrance into the playoffs — the four division winners and the top three runner up teams. Because the playoffs are single-elimination contests, and the line separating the sixth seed from the first seed in each conference may be very narrow, it isn't unheard of for one or both teams in that year's Super Bowl to be their conferences third seed or lower. For example, Super Bowl LVI was a contest between two No. 4 seeds.
    • Where this trope really comes into play is when a division is particularly weak and most, or all of its members have mediocre win-loss records. Irrespective of win record, the top team in that division is guaranteed entry into the postseason, meaning a playoff team can enter and win a playoff game with a sub-0.500 record in the prior regular season. This has only happened with the 2010 (7-9) Seattle Seahawks, who famously beat the reigning champion New Orleans Saints in the BeastQuake game. However, it could hypothetically happen in the 17-game era with a team holding a record as low as 3-14. Once in the playoffs, it's possible, if extremely unlikely, for a team to blunder its way into a deep playoff run.
  • Due to technological advancement by adversaries and/or rules changing, it's not uncommon to see the F1 champions struggle in the following season, sometimes even failing to score a single victory after years of domination. Some notorious examples are Williams in 1998, Ferrari in 2005, Mercedes in 2022, which all failed to get on top (exception for Ferrari but only for a controversial race at Indianapolis where almost every other participant retired because of safety concerns for their tyres).