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Series / The Challenge

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The Challenge (Formerly known as The Real World/Road Rules Challenge) is what you get when you take several people from sister shows The Real World and Road Rules and make them compete against each other for cash prizes. What usually happens is arguments, sex, fighting and then some eliminations leading to a cash prize. Each season is often mixed up however by a constantly changing rule-set and reward system.


Is often talked about thanks to its constant recycling of contestants with at least one openly admitting that they are there to avoid getting a real job.

The seasons (In order)

1. Road Rules: All Stars

  • Notable for, while being part of the series, has no Road Rules cast members participating and is more akin to a normal season of Road Rules, just with ex-Real World cast members taking part.
2. Real World/Road Rules Challenge
  • The first real season but the second actual season (If that makes any sense). Taking six Real World cast-members and six Road Rules cast-members and getting them to face off against each other.
3. Challenge 2000
  • Take the previous season and change the cast members for different ones and repeat.
4. Extreme Challenge
  • Another season of six vs six, Real World vs Road Rules battles. Notable for having one Missing Episode which featured dressing up as famous couples in a fetish shop.
5. Battle of the Seasons
  • The first season of the show to place in elimination of teams. During this show, sixteen pairs of two (One male, one female) competed against each other to see if Road Rules or Real World were better. Notable for Emily (Road Rules) actively eliminating threats, much to the anger of everyone else. Also notable for Mike "The Miz" getting drunk and starting up his whole wrestling persona.
6. Battle of the Sexes
  • Take the format of the previous season and instead make the two teams "Men vs Women". Notable for Puck almost getting kicked off the show for a spit-fight, Puck getting married, Puck trashing the hotel and quitting because of his wife getting deported... Heck just anything involving Puck.
7. The Gauntlet
  • The first show to remove the points value of the previous seasons and the first to add elimination challenges. After each mission, both Real World and Road Rules had to vote somebody into elimination. The loser went home empty handed while the winner stuck around, often to their own teams annoyance.
8. The Inferno
  • Once again, two teams of made Real World and Road Rules cast members face off. Notable for a distinct elimination practice of after having voted a member of the opposing team into the Inferno, they could potentially have the chance to win a "Life Saver", protect themselves from elimination, and then select their Inferno replacement.
9. Battle of the Sexes 2
  • Back to the 'Men vs Women' format, this time ditching the points system and changing to a captain system. Before each challenge each team would nominate three captains. Win and those captains decide who is going home from their team. Lose and everyone else votes one of the captains off the show.
10. The Inferno II
  • Because 'Road Rules' wasn't around anymore the team themes had to be changed from here on out. This challenge saw contestants placed into 'Bad Asses vs Good Guys'.
11. The Gauntlet 2
  • Originally meant to be 'New School vs Old School' contestants, this season was shifted around a little when not enough 'Old School' contestants wanted to appear. Instead it was Veterans (Contestants who had been in 2 or more challenges already) vs the Rookies (First time or one-shot contestants). In a change from usual team challenges where the eliminations could remove somebody from either team, here if you lost a main challenge, you and only your team would lose a member. Several other twists also appeared.
12. Fresh Meat
  • Featured alumni competing in male-female pairs with new castmates who did not previously feature appear in The Real World or Road Rules. The winning pair of each mission chose one pair to go into elimination, while the remaining players voted for the other pair to go into the "Exile" elimination round.
13. The Duel
  • Promoted as an "every man for himself" challenge, everyone competes individually, and there are only two winners (one of each gender).
14. The Inferno 3
  • Similar to Inferno II, this challenge also had teams of "Bad Asses" vs "Good Guys".
15. The Gauntlet III
  • Similar to Gauntlet 2, this challenge also had teams of Veterans vs Rookies.
16. The Island
  • Unlike previous challenges, this one featured no missions, and each episode had three people go into an elimination round in hopes to earn a 'key' to the final challenge. The remaining players would have to chose between the two non-winning contestants, in a Series/Survivor style vote-off. Also like Survivor, they were on an island with limited supplies, unlike in previous challenges where they lived in a large house.
17. The Duel II
  • Similar to the previous Duel, it featured the same format.
18. The Ruins
  • Had two teams of "Challengers" (people who had never won a challenge before) vs. "Champions" (people who have won before). Prior to each mission, each team nominates a group of three players of each gender within the team for elimination; after that challenge, the winning team's nominated group picks the match-ups for the "Ruins," which consist of a male Challenger against a male Champion, and a female Challenger against a female Champion.
19. Fresh Meat II
  • Similar to the previous Fresh Meat, featured the same format.
20. Cutthroat
  • This challenge featured three teams, and each week they would compete in missions. The winning team of the mission was immune from elimination, while the other two teams had to vote in what players to go into the "Gulag" elimination round.
21. Rivals
  • Featured 'rivalries' of previous castmates in same-sex pairs, and they had to compete together throughout the challenge. Each challenge alternates between being a female elimination or a male elimination. In the end, there would be two winning pairs, one of each gender.
22. Battle of the Exes
  • This challenge featured thirteen teams of ex couples competing in a challenge where the winner is safe from elimination and will be known as "The Power Couple," and they are responsible for choosing one team to go into the elimination round called "The Dome," along with the team that came in last-place in the challenge. In the end, there would be one winning pair.
23. Battle of the Seasons
  • Each team consists of two men and two women from select seasons. After each challenge, there is a winning team and a losing team. The losing team is automatically sent to "The Arena," and faces possible elimination. The winning team become the Power Team, and selects one team to battle against the last-place team in the Arena. The teams entering the Arena must select one player of each gender from their own team to compete in the elimination. If the teams entering the Arena cannot decide which players will compete in the elimination, the Power Team chooses for them. The winning pair in the elimination rounds return to their season and stay in the game, while the losing pair is eliminated, reducing their season to two players.
24. Rivals II
  • This challenge featured the same format as the previous Rivals season.
25. Free Agents
  • Each challenge is either individual, pairs, or teams. The winning individual/team/pair selects someone to go into elimination, while the rest of the players participate in "the Draw" where whoever draws the "kill card" goes into the elimination round.
26. Battle of the Exes II
  • This challenge featured the same format as the previous Battle of the Exes. Notable for being the last challenge with Diem, who had to leave while filming for becoming ill again with cancer, before her inevitable death months later.
27. Battle of the Bloodlines
  • This challenge consisted of pairs of two, featuring an alum of Real World, The Challenge or Are You the One? with a relative. The winning pair of the mission selects another pair to go into elimination (the Pit) against the losing pair, with gender-based eliminations.
28. Rivals III
  • Similar to the previous Rivals installments, except this one featured opposite-sex rivals.
29. Invasion of the Champions
  • Eighteen "Underdog" players (contestants who never won before) compete for a spot in "The Oasis", and eventually, eight former Champions join the game to compete against them. The Champions compete in eliminations against each other, and the Underdogs compete in elimination against each other.
30. XXX: Dirty 30
  • Similar to Free Agents, where challenges may be individual, pairs or teams. The contestants also have a shot at "redemption" to return to the game. In honor of being the 30th season, the prize money was increased to $1,000,000, unbeknownst to the contestants.

This show provides examples of

  • Action Girl: plenty of the females on this show could qualify, particularly girls like Laurel, Cara Maria, Emily, Sarah, Kelly Anne, etc. Some older examples would be Paula, Aneesa, Rachel, Coral, Veronica, Jenn, Evelyn, and Tina.
  • A House Divided: Fresh Meat 2 could have basically been called Wes vs Kenny because of this taking effect.
  • Attention Whore: Several contestants appear to be this, if only to secure their place in future seasons.
  • Ax-Crazy: A handful of people, but Abram and CT are notorious for being this. (CT especially.)
  • Beach Episode: Several seasons have exclusively been set on beaches. Most notable ones being the Gauntlet 2 and 3 where every elimination took place on a beach. The Island showed the cast living on the beach, similar to Survivor.
  • The Berserker: CT, whenever anyone gets him mad enough.
  • Call-Back: Given the shows spin-off nature and that almost all the contestants appear in multiple seasons, this is a given. Several challenges have even been made around this, quizzing cast-members about events happening on the shows.
  • Can't Catch Up: This seems to happen a fair few times, the producers seemingly having little idea on how to balance out competition. With that we get seasons such as 'Battle of the Sexes 2' where the Men not only win all but 2 of the normal competitions, but wind up so far ahead of the Women in the final mission too.
    • 'The Ruins' as well with the 'Champions' team winning all but one competition and managing to eliminate every single male contestant on the 'Challenger' side.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: CT and Aneesa hand these out a lot during physical elimination challenges.
    • Most female competitors are downright terrified to face Evelyn in an elimination round.
    • On the other hand, Cohutta is usually the one receiving these during physical elimination challenges.
  • Disposable Woman Seems to happen every few seasons where teams will single out female competitors and even throw challenges just to get rid of them.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first season wasn't actually a proper 'Challenge' and instead placed five ex-Real World cast members into the Road Rules show. Even the next three are this as there are no eliminations at all.
  • Elimination Houdini Loads of them. Notable contestants being Sarah in The Gauntlet being nominated for elimination five times. Wes/Casey also count for being placed up five times as well. Casey during her subsequent challenges also, especially The Ruins.
  • Everybody Has Standards: TV host TJ can be a real jerk at times, but he was absolutely appalled when Johnny Bananas cheated Sarah out of her share of the prize money. TJ even goes a far to sincerely apologize to Sarah over it.
  • Failure is the Only Option: Real World Austin cast member, Danny Jamieson, has failed to win a single individual or elimination challenge at any of the six challenges he's competed in, has never competed in a final, and is often among the first contestants sent home.
    • Several other recurring cast-members fit this bill as well from Real World Brooklyns's Sarah and Key West's Paula.
  • Fanservice: nearly every person on this show is relatively attractive. Some of the challenges themselves could even qualify, when they have the contestants either strip down, or complete a task that involves some compromising positions.
  • Girl Posse: in some of the older seasons, Rachel, Veronica and Tina were referred to as the "Mean Girls", because of their close friendship with each other, and because they had no problem backstabbing the other women in the house.
  • Ill Girl: Poor Diem. She had previously survived ovarian cancer twice, before finally becoming stricken with colon cancer, and had to leave during Battle of the Exes II, before her death months later.
  • Jerkass: Plenty. Johnny 'Bananas' and Ty Ruff are arguably the most prominent examples.
  • Lady Drunk: Katie Doyle. John Devenanzio claimed on an episode of the BS Report, that she was a major factor in production's decision to stop providing the Challenge houses with an open bar.
  • Lightning Bruiser: CT is feared in challenges due to his mix of size and athleticism. Nehemiah, Wes and Abram also fit the bill for this trope.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Many new contestant has appeared in these in the early seasons hoping everyone will be fair and nice. Nope.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The infamous brawl between CT and Adam looked like it was going to go down like this, big time. Adam barely got in one decent push before CT proceeded to tear him apart, and the shots he threw in while CT was being held back only served to spike the big guy's temper. The rest of the cast (and even the production crew) had to get between them out of the fear that Adam was going to end up in the hospital.
  • Non-Gameplay Elimination: From Battle of the Sexes 2 and onwards, there has yet to be a single season without one of these. These include quitting before eliminations, being automatically DQ'ed from elimination rounds for drinking, fighting and family emergencies.
  • Product Placement: The TJ Lavin era has seen contestant uniforms morph from simple t-shirts to the contents of the most recent Under Armour catalog.
    • This isn't new though as often prizes, challenges and whole gameplay mechanics would be named after brands.
    • During older seasons, the contestants would always get a clue on their T-Mobile sidekicks, and they would always have to announce it and show the phone to the camera.
  • Transgender: Kaitlyn being male to female transgender though unlike 'The Real World', little is made of it because of competition.
  • Unstoppable Rage: CT during his fight with Adam. (mentioned above) The entire house attempted to get between the two, only for CT to simply shove his way through everyone. Even when the production crew came to back them up, they still couldn't stop him.


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