Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today: Benjamin Franklin may have coined the adage, but Challenge contestants — particularly on the most recent season, Total Madness — have been living by the statement.
Season 35 — which mandated that players win at least one elimination round to qualify for the final mission — players schemed not to avoid Purgatory, but to weasel their ways in. Cast members like Tori, Jenny and Jordan campaigned to get the inevitable over with, and while it worked out well for some, the choice to step up early sometimes meant competitors left early too.
Still, Total Madness wasn’t the first time that players took the difficult road — and took it early — instead of waiting for the winds to change. Since Jodi boldly called out Veronica way back on Inferno II, players have proven that, sometimes, they’re not content taking the easy way out and will aim to strike the strong and strike them early. Take a look back at seven players who refused to wait for tough elimination rounds, and tell us what you thought of the final Total Madness results!
Jodi picks Veronica (Inferno II)
The plan for the Good Guys team was simple: If the Bad Asses team picked Jodi as their Inferno nomination, Jodi would return the favor by picking Veronica, whom the Good Guys perceived as one of the game’s toughest women. It was a big risk for Jodi, who could have just as soon picked a seemingly easier opponent like Tonya. And while her bravery was noble, it sadly didn’t pay off — Veronica handily eliminated Jodi in “That’s a Wrap.”
Aneesa picks Robin (The Duel)
Aneesa’s performance on Season 13 is one of her most impressive ever, and her choice to square off against Robin is demonstrative proof. When Aneesa found herself at the bottom of the totem pole on Episode 10, she had the option to battle against someone smaller like Kina or Diem to increase her chances of winning. Instead, she picked Robin, who’d offended her with some cutting low blows, and sent the Real World: San Diego housemate packin’ after puzzle game “Ascender.”
Jordan picks Bananas (Free Agents)
Jordan forewent The Draw — a random lottery that would sentence one player to an elimination round — on Season 25 just so that he could square off against his then-nemesis, Johnny Bananas. It was a power play for the ages that, unfortunately, did not go Jordan’s way, as “Wrecking Wall,” a race to the top of a makeshift ladder, found eventual winner Bananas winning without breaking a sweat.
Devin picks Bananas (Vendettas)
Like Jordan before him, Devin was insistent on getting the chance to send Bananas, whom he called “spineless,” home on Season 31. And once Devin convinced Troika member Tony to set up the battle, he finally got his chance. After a nail-biter round of memory game “Not So Bright,” Devin proved nerve pays off, and he got his wish of personally sending Bananas packin’.
Cara and Marie pick Shane and Nelson (Final Reckoning)
Season 32, which included the wild variable of the Redemption House, constantly found players getting the boot only to return an episode or two later (or, in Natalie and Paulie’s case, an entire season later). So when Cara and Marie found themselves vulnerable to elimination for the first time in Episode 14, they decided to swing for the fences and call out Powerhouse team Nelson and Shane. Sadly, the guys handily defeated the ladies in strength game “Meet Me Halfway,” but Cara and Marie would almost immediately return to the game after a successful (and quick!) run in the Redemption House to claim a fourth-place finish in the final mission.
Jenny enters Purgatory first (Total Madness)
Was there a clearer path to a championship than Jenny’s on Season 35? Jenny, who campaigned to be the Tribunal pick for the game’s first women’s elimination round, got her wish thanks to then-pal Dee, and Jenny took out Jenn in “Flip the Switch” in a matter of seconds. Jenny, who never had to face a second elimination round, eventually got her very first championship as a result of her early boldness.
Tori tries to Step Up (Total Madness)
One of Season 35’s most eager players, Tori, who just missed out on the War of the Worlds 2 championship cash, didn’t waste a minute trying to work her way into Purgatory. She was pissed when Jenny got a bid to go up against Jenn before she did, but got her chance to prove her worth when she volunteered to go into an elimination round as the house’s vote. Tori thought she had her Red Skull wrapped up when she squared off against Jenna in “Dust to Dust” (a lot of the cast thought Jenna had mentally checked out because of relationship issues), but Barbie Beast was reborn, and unfortunately, Tori’s choice to be bold did not pay off.