Top 10 Moments in MTV Challenge History Where Players Chickened Out

Jordan Wiseley flipping all the Kill Cards on Free Agents is one of my all-time favorite Challenge moments from a character standpoint. When Jordan walked into the elimination arena, he saw production put up the Wrecking Wall hoping he would waffle on his declaration of flipping all the cards. He would surely lose to Bananas in Wrecking Wall simply due to his disability (having five fingers helps when punching a wall and climbing). Looking at defeat straight in the eyes, Jordan still flipped all the kill cards because he said he would do it, and I respect that so much. It takes a lot of courage, stubbornness, and idiocy to do that; he didn’t play a scared game. My favorite Challenge competitors are the ones who make big plays and put their games on the line to give themselves a better chance of winning.

This article isn’t about the plays I love, though, no it’s the opposite. It’s about the people who chickened out in big moments when the stakes were high, who were afraid of the moment when given an opportunity, or played a game that displayed consistent cowardice. If there is a moment not on this list that you think deserves to be on here, comment on whatever forum you got the article from. I either forgot the moment, overlooked it, or potentially categorized it as a bad/dumb play rather than a scared play. There is a thin line between dumb and scared, and sometimes they blur.

Before we jump into the Top 10, here are some Honorable Mentions:

  • Gabby Allen choosing not to throw herself in to face Amber Martinez in Hall Brawl on Double Agents
  • Spies, Lies & Allies Rookies not infiltrating Double Vet pairs until the 10th opportunity.
  • Brandon Tindel quitting Rivals 3 because he’s a little bitch.
  • Players afraid to play the political game on Rivals 2 (Theresa & Nany) and Dirty 30 (Britni), so their burn votes burned them.

Let’s get into the actual list now.

10 All The Players Who Didn’t Turncoat (Theo & Georgia) on War of the Worlds 2… and The Complainers Who Didn’t Even Try

It took until the eleventh elimination of War of the Worlds 2 for a player to finally turncoat. Everyone was so afraid of getting targeted as an outsider on a new team or being an enemy of their old team that they couldn’t see they were already in a terrible game position. Why not take a chance and change things? The most egregious example of this was when Theo & Georgia won their second elimination each the same night and had the opportunity to swap. Georgia & Theo not switching to Team USA was bonkers, considering they would be fighting from the bottom regardless. The game would have been flipped number-wise if they had turncoated and joined the anti-Paulie/Cara alliance.

Seriously, at its worst, it would have been a 7 to 7 deadlock tie between Jordan/Zach/Tori/Nany/Josh/Theo/Georgia against Paulie/Cara/Ninja/Kam/Ashley/Leroy/Turbo. Turbo, Leroy, and Ashley were all potential swing votes that could have been easily influenced. Instead of Georgia and Theo getting thrown into more eliminations where they would eventually lose, they could have gotten revenge on their enemies.

Kudos to Jordan & Tori for having the cajones to switch sides and take fate into their own hands. Likewise, I must note, Zach Nichols complained about his team all season when he could have gone down and turncoated if he hated them so much. Why didn’t he? Because Zach’s afraid to blame himself for anything in life, he’d rather play scared.

9 Tori and Jordan’s Skull Paranoia on Total Madness

While I complemented Tori and Jordan for their bravado on War of the Worlds 2, I need to knock them for how scared they played on Total Madness. On its face, the Red Skull twist was simple; you qualify to run the final if you win an elimination. Jordan and Tori became so consumed with finding the perfect skull match-up for Tori that they became shells of themselves. The same woman who was willing to go against Georgia or Jenny in anything the previous season was now trying to get a headbanger elimination against Jenn Lee or Big T. There’s no other way to put it; Jordan and Tori played a scared paranoid game. In the end, Tori went into an elimination thinking Jenna Compono would throw it and then lost in an embarrassing fashion.

8 Ryan Stealing KellyAnne’s Key on the Island

When people think of the Island, what comes to mind is Evelyn and Johnny stealing each other’s key back and forth, ultimately leading to the final play, where Kenny cuts a deal with Evelyn where if she steals Dunbar’s key, they will give her a spot in their boat for the Final. Evelyn made a deal with the Devil, and it paid 75,000 dollars.

A weak moment I don’t ever see people talk about is Ryan Kehoe stealing KellyAnne’s key and submitting to Kenny’s alliance for the privilege to exist. For context, Ryan won one of the last Island face-offs of the season, and he could have stolen any player’s key for the opportunity to run the Final. Ryan could have shaken up the game by stealing a key from anyone in the power alliance (Kenny, Johnny, Derrick). Forget about any of that; he stole KellyAnne’s key because he was too afraid of gaining the ire of Kenny’s alliance and friends. Which would make sense if Ryan had a spot in Kenny’s boat and had a good shot of winning? Nope. Kenny’s boat was not only full, but it had too many people expecting to be on it already; rather than playing to win, Ryan played the safest and most scared way possible.

Looking back, there is an alternate world where if Ryan stole Johnny’s key and Evelyn stole Kenny’s key in the final two episodes, the entire Challenge universe we live in today would be way different.

7 Josh letting Rogan obliterate Jay on Total Madness

I’m going for another under-the-radar moment. Josh and Swaggy had the opportunity as the Tribunal on Total Madness to put themselves into the Balls In elimination where Rogan murdered Jay. They knew it would be a physical elimination and could have gotten their Red Skull. I’m going to give a pass to Swaggy as he was a rookie, and Jay was one of his best friends in the house. While Josh was “friends” with Jay, his choice not to go in reeks of fear. Every week, Josh kept waiting and waiting for the perfect elimination until it was quite literally just him and Kyle as the only two guys left in the game without skulls.

If Josh threw himself, he probably wins due to his sheer size advantage, and from there, only male elimination for the rest of the season was between two players who already had skulls (the Nelson/Rogan Hall Brawl). Looking back at Josh’s entire Challenge career, this was the moment where he could have easily made a Final, and not only did he not take the shot for himself, he gave it to Rogan, someone who didn’t have his back, and ended up physically hurting his “friend.” Weak.

6 The Gauntlet 3 Vet Men Not Throwing in Big Easy

CT, Evan, and most of the Veteran Men on the Gauntlet 3 were incredibly toxic towards the women of their team. They treated them as deadweight who could threaten their chance of winning and were limiting their potential winnings. It was ridiculous behavior made even more absurd by letting Big Easy slide on by when he was one giant walking red flag. Hell, by the end of the Final, he wasn’t even walking.

None of the men went after Big Easy because they were afraid it would be one of the Gauntlet’s size-based eliminations where they would lose. Except if you have a guy on your team who can’t finish a 1–3 mile final, then you might as well go home early anyway.

I’m no mathematician, but Misogyny + Chicken Shit Fear = Real Clown Shit.

5 Elimination Quitters

Not all people who quit eliminations are made equal. Everyone quits for different reasons, some entirely rational, others for less. Regardless, when you are supposed to face someone in elimination, and you choose not to, especially in the face of a strong opponent or someone you hate, then you look like you’re afraid.

For this reason, I am putting people who quit on/in eliminations under an umbrella #5 seed.

4 Jay and Jenna Quitting the Exes 2 Final

Everyone called Jay and Jenna the lay-up team of Exes 2, and then in the Final, they proved them all right when they chickened and couldn’t stomach some fish juice. Quitting is one thing; doing it in the final is another when there is a guaranteed 30 grand for finishing. There’s not much to be said here; Jay’s tears spoke for themselves.

Before anyone says only Jay quit, there was zero chance Jenna was ever going to drink that pickled fish juice. Jenna wouldn’t even touch the seafood soup they had the night before for dinner and is a complete non-factor in eating challenges for her entire Challenge career.

3 Theresa not voting in Laurel on Free Agents

Following the fifth daily challenge of Free Agents, Theresa Gonzalez rallied players to make a big move and vote Laurel Stucky into elimination. Except when it came to Theresa’s time to vote, she threw a burn vote on Jasmine, making her look like a total coward. The burn vote didn’t work as everyone knew it was Theresa’s plan, including Laurel. Not only did Theresa look scared, she made enemies out of her allies in the process. Low-key, it is one of my favorite Challenge moments ever because it’s so inexplicable.

2 Wes & Evelyn throwing Landon & CJ under the bus on Fresh Meat 2

Wes and Evelyn did a great job gathering numbers at the onset of Fresh Meat 2, and together, they successfully knocked out power players in Darrell & Sarah to kick off the game. As time went on, Laurel & Kenny proved to be a juggernaut team, winning daily after daily, and from there, Wes/Evelyn struggled at managing their alliance. In Episode 6, after the biggest pawns of their alliance had already got taken out, Wes and Evelyn hit an impasse as Jill & Pete had won the most recent daily challenge. Instead of staying strong and potentially taking on Laurel/Kenny in exile, Wes/Evelyn scrambled. They cut a deal with the opposing side to force Landon/Carley and CJ/Sydney (who were part of Wes’s alliance) in elimination together to save themselves.

It was a terrible and scared move by Evelyn & Wes as now the entire house was against the two of them, and the following week, they had to face each other anyway. The move came back to bite Wes in Battle of the Season 2012 when CJ repaid the favor by throwing Wes into the first elimination of that season. Wes or Evelyn should have stepped up and volunteered to be the power team vote, and from there, their alliance would have at least half the votes to put in Kenny/Laurel, which at that point, you only need one vote from Noor/Jenn or Ryan/Theresa to swing their way. If you’re going to go down, go down swinging. Wes and Evelyn went down looking bad.

I will say, Wes is someone who usually takes big risks most players wouldn’t even dream of (same goes for Evelyn too), sadly, their gameplay on Fresh Meat 2 just smelled like fear.

1 Paulie not facing a hobbled Kyle in Hall Brawl on War of the Worlds 1

Was Paulie not throwing himself in to face Kyle in Hall Brawl in the final elimination of the season a smart move? Absolutely. It would be idiotic to face a guy with that much size in a headbanger elimination.

At the same time, Paulie talked a lot of shit and specifically mentioned he wanted Kyle in something physical. So when the stakes were at their highest, when they knew it would be a Hall Brawl, and Kyle was looking haggard, the fact Paulie didn’t take the shot was a bit weak. Even if Paulie had lost, at least he would have been consistent rather than looking afraid of Kyle. Further proof that Paulie was just a drama queen who wasn’t about that smoke was during the three-team elimination episode when Paulie asked TJ if they could take the girls out of the equation and he could face Kyle in something physical 1-on-1. Paulie only asked that because he knew TJ would say no because, again… it was a three-team elimination.

Paulie not going down there was the opposite of Jordan’s kill card move. Just no balls. Had we gotten Paulie vs. Kyle in Hall Brawl to culminate the season, it would have been one of the best moments in Challenge history regardless of the outcome.

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Allan Aguirre

26 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.