The Challenge is one of the longest-running reality shows on TV, and it has quite a colorful history. What began as a random show filled with Road Rules and Real World vets in an RV is now a reality TV institution.
Who knew so much drama could happen when pitting former, current, and future reality stars against each other? Here are 8 surprising behind-the-scenes facts that even the biggest Challenge fan may not know.
8. ‘The Challenge’ originally had a different title
Many Challenge fans weren’t even born when the show first premiered in 1998. But back then, it wasn’t known as The Challenge. When the show first hit MTV on June 1 of that year, it was originally titled Road Rules: All Stars. It was both a spinoff and combination of The Real World and Road Rules.
MTV gave birth to modern day reality TV with The Real World back in 1991, and Road Rules premiered four years later.
The idea for Road Rules came after three cast members from season 2 of The Real World road tripped across the country in an RV to get to their Los Angeles house.
The show didn’t officially become The Challenge until season 19.
7. T.J. Lavin didn’t show up until season 11
The Challenge went through a lot of changes during its early seasons. In addition to having multiple names, the series has also had a few different hosts. At first, it didn’t have a host at all. Instead, cast members who had been kicked off their respective series would deliver messages and give assignments to the competitors.
This began with David “Puck” Rainey from The Real World: San Francisco, and The Real World alum Eric Nies also had a stint as co-host. The show eventually started to use outside hosts, like skier Jonny Moseley and actor Verne Troyer. It wasn’t until season 11 that The Challenge got their regular host, T.J. Lavin.
6. There’s an episode of ‘The Challenge’ that only aired once
According to Mental Floss, there’s an episode of The Challenge titled “Couple Fashion Show” that featured a dress-up competition at a fetish club. However, the episode never aired again after its original broadcast.
5. The contestants don’t know the filming location in advance
Over the years, The Challenge has filmed all over the world in amazing locations. One thing that makes the show so much fun is that the cast travels to new places and competes in unique challenges.
But, contestants actually have no idea where the filming location will be. They don’t get this info until they get to the airport. Once they’re signed in, the contestants receive a plane ticket. That’s the moment they find out where they’ll be going.
4. There was a mission deemed ‘too dangerous’ on ‘The Challenge’
Emer Harkin, a longtime producer-turned-co-executive producer, says that there’s nothing they’re afraid to try in regard to challenges.
“There’s literally never been a challenge that we’ve created that we haven’t pulled off,” Harkin says.
But, there was one specific time during season 4 when a mission was deemed “too dangerous.” The first and only mission to get scrapped in the show’s history was “the human catapult.” They shut it down after one tester broke their leg and another broke an arm.
3. ‘Movie Night’ isn’t what you think it is
The contestants are often looking for things to do in the house, as there’s hardly any entertainment. As a result, some of the most exciting moments happen when two contestants fight.
When a fight breaks out, someone in the house will yell “movie night.” That’s the signal for all of the players to come running to watch the fight play out. Some have actually admitted to starting fights because they’re so bored.
2. A lot goes on in the ‘off season’
According to GOAT Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, The Challenge is “more difficult in certain regards than professional sports.”
“From a mental standpoint, you take any other sport: football, baseball, soccer, basketball. While the competition may change, teams may change, the X’s and the O’s are always the same. The game is the same. The Challenge, we never know what we’re going to do from day-to-day,” Bananas told Mashable.
Because of this, many competitors literally train for the show when they’re not filming. And, some even go so far as to reach out to other potential contestants and try to make deals and alliances in advance.
1. ‘The Challenge’ expects contestants to get injured
To be fair, The Challenge producers take a number of special precautions to prevent injuries from happening during filming. But, that hasn’t kept injuries from being quite common during competition.
As a result, the show decided to incorporate them into the show to create drama. If a contestant gets hurt during a challenge, there’s no special treatment, disqualifications, or do-overs. The injured contestant is simply vulnerable to elimination.
The Challenge is available on Paramount+.
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