The Challenge’s Ten Most Disappointing ‘Fallen Angels’

Henry L DiMaria
10 min readFeb 20, 2023

It was a major accomplishment for rookies Olivia & Horacio to make it to the final challenge. Seeing them there had many fans excited, especially since the players that have been controlling the past few seasons have been so repetitive. This season’s finalists include Tori, Devin, Aneesa, and Nany have all been on the past three seasons in a row. The other finalists, Jordan, and Bananas, are Challenge legends who we have seen many times over. Therefore losing the rookie phenoms in the manner that we did, due to a freak injury was incredibly disappointing.

The way Horacio & Olivia went out of the game was incredibly disappointing and made me feel similar to when a player has a great season only for them to be eliminated right before the final, making them known as a ‘Fallen Angel.’

‘Fallen Angels’ is a term I borrowed from the Survivor/ Big Brother fan communities, and for these players, it was a major disappointment to not see them have the chance to run the final. Here are the players who I felt were the ten most disappointing to go out in this way.

Honorable Mentions:

Tina Barta-Battle of the Sexes 2

Dan Renzi-The Inferno II

Norman & Becky-Battle of the Seasons (2002)

Theresa Jones (née Gonzalez) (Free Agents)

10. Aneesa Ferreira (The Duel)

At this point Aneesa was still very early in her Challenge career, having only previously appeared on Battle of the Sexes, Battle of the Sexes 2 & The Gauntlet 2. On The Duel she had a great season and proved herself to be a legitimate competitor, especially in eliminations where she won three against Paula, Robin & Diem. In most seasons what Aneesa accomplished on The Duel would have been enough to make the final, however, unlike most seasons, (particularly at that time), The Duel had only two men and women make the final challenge. She was forced into a situation where she had to face Svetlana, whom she had created a close friendship with over the course of the season. Aneesa lost in essentially a guessing game in the I Can elimination and therefore didn’t get a chance to run a final, which was disappointing even if I doubt she would have been able to keep up with Jodi.

9. Darrell Taylor (Invasion of the Champions)

Darrell is a Challenge legend who won four seasons in a row over from The Gauntlet through Fresh Meat. He had then taken some time away from the show, having last appeared ten seasons earlier on Fresh Meat II where he and CaraMaria were the first boots. On Invasion of the Champions, Darrell came back and proved without a doubt why he is one of the best. Darrell went in all three champions’ elimination rounds beating Zach in Pole Wrestle and Bananas in Balls In. Eventually, the day came when he had to go up against CT for the only Champions spot in the final. CT memorably nearly broke the Knot So Fast elimination by tying a knot so tight that allegedly production needed to use a chainsaw to get him free. Considering the final, I am confident Darrell would have been the favorite to win against the same competition of Nelson & Cory, just like CT did. The story of him coming back after the disgrace of getting DQed for fighting on The Ruins and going out first on Fresh Meat II to go into all three champions elimination rounds would have been a great story.

8. Big T ( Double Agents)

Coming into Double Agents, Big T had been entertaining but had gone home early in both of her prior seasons. She had a much more successful season in the competitions on Double Agents where she won two dailies while paired with CT and beat Aneesa in the Fire Escape elimination. More importantly though, Big T was one of the biggest characters of the season and quickly rose from being more of an afterthought to becoming a fan favorite. She had a great underdog story, having been one of the smallest competitors and overcoming CT leaving her as a partner in an embarrassing fashion. Unfortunately, Big T was sent into a Hall Brawl for the final women’s elimination and she was unable to overcome Amber’s dramatic advantage in size and strength. Big T really came into her own on Double Agents and it was disappointing to see her go out right before the final.

7. Da’Vonne Rogers (War of the Worlds)

Da’Vonne came onto The Challenge with a significant fan base from her two times as a Big Brother houseguest. After her rookie season on Final Reckoning, she quickly became a favorite among Challenge fans too. She showed herself to be a strong competitor on War of the Worlds by winning the opening purge for the veterans, making two Tribunals, and winning three eliminations, beating other strong competitors like Jenna & Dee. Da’Vonne was also one of the most rootable players on War of the Worlds owing to her dynamic personality and the entertainment she brought to the show.

Finally, she had to deal with Bear as her partner for the majority of the game and that alone is reason enough to think she should have had some good karma on her side. Eventually though, Da’Vonne was eliminated- not even in an elimination round but because she finished last in the final purge. She had a great season and was even the second-highest placing woman veteran, so it would have been great to see her get a shot in a final.

6. Chris “CT” Tamburello (The Duel)

Nowadays CT is a five-time challenge champion and of course one of the most celebrated Challenge competitors. At the time of the Duel, he was still just a young hothead, but he was the same dominant physical competitor we know now. Even though he was great in his previous two seasons, CT had back-to-back runner-up finishes on The Inferno,(as part of the Real World team) and The Inferno II, (As part of the Bad Asses team). On The Duel he had a great season, winning three daily challenges and taking out Evan in the Ascender Duel. Outside of the competition, CT was a major character throughout the season since it was where he formed his relationship with Diem.

The final daily of the season had competitors paired for the first leg and then split halfway. CT’s partner Jodi conserved her energy and let him burn out and once they separated, CT was passed by Wes. As a result, he ended up in the final Push Me elimination against Brad. He physically smoked Brad but was DQed for ripping the flag out of the ground (which was much easier) instead of properly unclipping the carabiner. It sucked to see him lose the elimination in that way especially after being a top competitor and major character all season.

5. Derrick & Diem (Fresh Meat)

Derrick and Diem are two of the most universally beloved Challenge competitors. They were paired up together for Fresh Meat when Derrick selected her ninth in the Fresh Meat draft. The pair stayed under the radar through the beginning of the game before winning three daily challenges in a row and establishing themselves as one of the top teams heading into the end game. On the back of Diem’s cutthroat gameplay, they used their power to orchestrate getting their toughest competition into eliminations and appeared destined to make the final. Going into the last daily challenge it was down to them, their closest allies, and teams that had performed poorly in the dailies. One of those weaker teams, Tina & Kenny, pulled out a win and threw Derrick & Diem into “The Exile” against Darrell & Aviv.

Derrick & Diem lost due to Darrell & Aviv generally being a very strong team and because they had a major disadvantage with 75 more pounds of weight that they had to carry. Watching the pair go out right before the final was especially hard considering each of their individual circumstances. Derrick had shown himself to be a tenacious competitor who was full of heart. Diem came onto the season in the beginning stages of battling ovarian cancer and despite that hardship proved to be one of the best this season. Having them go out right before the final was a major disappointment.

4. CT & Adam (Rivals)

The theme of Rivals was truly epitomized by Adam & CT being paired together. They had been at each other’s throats since they were roommates on The Real World Paris and of course, had the most infamous brawl in Challenge history. At the time of Rivals, CT was one of the best competitors to never win, and many considered Adam a good guy they wanted to root for. The pair was immediately the target of the dominant JEK alliance (since they were intimidated by CT) as they plotted to throw them into elimination every chance they had. CT & Adam still managed to win two dailies and took out a team of two former champions, Evan & Nehemiah, in the Rail Slide elimination.

Unfortunately, CT & Adam did not make it all the way. Instead, they ended up in the final elimination where despite CT’s best effort, a boneheaded mistake by Adam cost them the season’s final elimination by seconds. Since CT & Adam were one of the best pairs of the season it would have been exciting to see them run the final against Kenny & Wes and/or Bananas & Tyler, (who were the teams plotting against them all season). Finally, having the team with arguably the biggest rivalry coming in making it all the way and run the final would have been a much more emblematic end for a Rivals-themed season.

3. Diem Brown(The Duel II)

The fact that Diem came so close but never was able to become a Challenge Champion will forever be a disappointment. She had deep runs in all three of her seasons prior, (as I previously mentioned), losing the final elimination of Fresh Meat, losing the second-to-last elimination of The Duel, and being a victim of Big Easy’s collapse in The Gauntlet III final. The Duel II was a season where she went through the ringer night one with the infamous CT & Adam brawl. She also had a bit of a tough time when she was pulled into the drama between Evan & Paula. Diem’s biggest weakness was always her size but she won a physically tough elimination, Push Over, beating a bigger competitor in Jenn. Diem had to go into the final elimination against the strong rookie Brittini again playing Push Over, but this time she was unable to overcome the size difference and just missed out on the final.

2. Landon Lueck (The Duel II)

Landon is one of the most accomplished competitors in Challenge history with three wins in just four seasons but arguably his most impressive season was the only one he lost. The Duel II was an individual season and Landon won an incredible half of the daily challenges going five for ten, add into that a dominant win over Issac in Spot On. He played his typical fair and straight-up game but got snaked by his allies who conspired to vote for him in the final elimination when he left the room to get paper for a secret ballot. He went into the Back Off elimination against Brad and although he performed better physically, lost due to a sneaky play. Landon is both one of the biggest Good Guys and a fantastic athlete, missing out on seeing him have the chance to run an individual final was a disappointment.

1. Derrick Kosinski (The Gauntlet 2)

In my opinion, The Gauntlet 2 was Derrick’s story, and the fact that he was the last man eliminated right before the final was a brutal blow. To start off the season he was considered by many others on the Veterans team to be a hot head and the low man on the totem pole. As such he was thrown in the first elimination against team captain Adam, winning over the Gauntlet champion and making him the new Team Captain. As Team Captian, he was forced into elimination every time his team lost on a male day.

Derrick proved himself to be a great leader throughout the rest of the season winning over his teammates and went in and won an additional three eliminations, including two wins where he overcame a size disadvantage compared with his opponents in Beach Brawl. Unfortunately his team lost the final daily sending him to a fifth elimination against Timmy where Derrick was unable to overcome his size disadvantage this time in Reverse Tug-O-War and went home right before the final. Not having Derrick who had become the heart and soul of the Veterans team for the final was one of the most disappointing times a competitor was eliminated right before the final.



Henry L DiMaria

I blog primarily about The Challenge but occasionally stretch into other reality TV @HenryLDiMaria