Road Rules: All Stars has come a long way. That was the name that the original Challenge went by when it debuted on MTV in 1998, but the name isn’t the only thing that’s changed through the years. For the first four seasons, the show included a ton of travel, in which Real World alum went on a road trip and participated in competitions, much like Road Rules. Beginning in season 5, Battle of the Seasons, one location was used.
Until season 12, the show included former Road Rules and Real World cast members. However, Fresh Meat introduced new contestants who had never starred in reality TV. Although critics were initially worried about the format change, the season introduced the franchise to some of the most prominent people, including Diem Brown, Kenny Santucci, Evan Starkman and Evelyn Smith. In 2010, The Challenge hosted Fresh Meat II for season 19, bringing in now-Challenge legends Laurel Stucky and Cara Maria Sorbello.
In season 26, Battle of the Exes II, the cast expanded again, bringing in cast members from Are You the One?; in the next season, Battle of the Bloodlines, the cast brought in a relative to compete with them. As of season 35, the cast includes cast members from Big Brother, Ex on the Beach, Geordie Shore, Survivor, Bad Girls Club, Vanderpump Rules, American Ninja Warrior, Floribama Shore and Bachelor Nation.
The locations have also changed. After the Road Rules-style ended after season 4, most seasons took place in large mansions with hot tubs, gorgeous kitchens and outdoor space. That changed in 2008 during season 16’s The Island. Instead of missions, elimination rounds and the competitors had to live on an island with very few supplies. In season 35, the entire cast had to live in an underground bunker — something that many people found to be more difficult than The Island‘s living conditions.
“On The Island, you’re out in the sun every day, you can lay out. This was, like, you’re underground in a bunker in the middle of the Earth. It was a five-minute walk just to get outside. If you went outside it was 30 degrees and it was overcast all the time,” longtime competitor Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio told Us Weekly exclusively ahead of season 35, Total Madness. “You were never really exposed outside life. It really, really, really wore on you. It took a while for it to wear on me. Some people cracked immediately. … I woke up one day and I just felt something that I’ve never felt before. And it was just like, I don’t want to call it depression but this is what true despair feels like. It was like the game within the game.”
The series also has launched multiple spinoffs. Chris “CT” Tamburello and Lilianet Solares‘ wedding got its own special and three seasons of The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars brought in celebs and pro athletes to compete for money for charity.
So, with the ever-changing game, who has dominated? Who has not? Us Weekly is breaking it all down.
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