Birds of a feather may flock together, but on The Challenge, bonds aren’t necessarily the result of similitude.
On War of the Worlds, bonds have reasonably developed between like-minded competitors: Dee and Ninja have become BFFs after learning of their shared personalities, JP and Turbo’s bromance — the result of shared backgrounds — was cut way too short and Bear and Georgia became practically attached at the hip as soon as the game began.
Still, perhaps most interesting connection that has manifested was one we didn’t see coming at all: Wes’ friendship with Hunter. Yup, while Wes typically only has time for brainy, seasoned players like himself, he’s forged an undeniable bond with Hunter, one of the newer additions to the game who’s a self-proclaimed disaster when it comes to puzzles. And somehow, the tie has survived the game, and Hunter can count himself among the few players whom Wes hasn’t double-dealed.
And while odd couples are unusual on The Challenge, they certainly aren’t unprecedented. Look back at nine of the most unexpected friendships that ripened on The Challenge below, and tell us if there are any obvious ones we missed in the comments!
Veronica and Katie
What a difference a few years can make! Veronica spent the early aughts trying to oust Katie from shows like The Gauntlet and The Inferno, and Katie responded not-so-amenably (“You are a short, scrawny, acne-faced-ridden f*cking c***, and you can go f*ck yourself,” she once notably spat). Just a few years later, though — when Katie and Veronica both became team outcasts on The Ruins — Veronica revealed that she and Katie had become buds and that she couldn’t possibly conceive of voting Katie into an elimination round a single additional time.
Cara and Susie
Susie, who once famously admitted she partook in “no sex, no drugs, no rock ‘n’ roll,” hit it off immediately with Cara — a former Playboy Playmate of the month — on Gauntlet 2. It’s not that these two had such disparate personalities that surprised us (they didn’t), it’s that Susie came from a background that featured nearly oppressive moralism (less than a year ago, she admitted on her podcast that she didn’t know what pot looked like), while Cara was totally uninhibited, later appearing in The Girls Next Door and Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches. The two were nearly inseparable on Inferno III, where Susie refused to send Cara into an elimination round, causing uproar within her team.
Emily and Frank
Both dauntless competitors, Emily and Frank’s starkest differences lay in their dispositions: While Emily typically tried to steer clear of drama, Frank typically found himself in the center of it (thus: Hurricane Frank). In a completely uncharacteristic move, Emily once even jumped into a fight between Jordan and Frank on Rivals II in defense of Frank, proving her adoration of him transcended her typical compulsion to keep cool and walk away from fights. The two still routinely upload images of hangouts and visits on Instagram.
Nehemiah and Beth
If Nehemiah was all about the zen during his Challenge tenure, then his closeness to Beth on The Duel seemed especially confounding. The Beth/Svetlana/Aneesa/Wes/Nehemiah alliance was strange to begin with, but Beth and Nehemiah took their strategic bond one step further, developing a friendship in which a seeming pacifist couldn’t get enough of the game’s most infamous troublemaker. And Nehemiah seemed to be the only player in the game to ever work his way into Beth’s heart — while Beth usually swore fellow competitors off, she lamented that she’d miss Nehemiah upon the Real World: Austin export’s elimination.
CT and Cara Maria
These days, the Boston bros are as thick and thieves, and it’s been an understood facet of any recent season that they have each other’s backs. But you don’t need to look further back than Rivals to remember that these two once hated each other. In one particularly heated moment, CT jumped into an argument between Cara and Jenn to call Cara’s boyfriend (Abram) trash and completely degrade her. Because ultimately, Massholes need to stick together…
Coral and Evan
It was never a surprise that Coral and Evan were great partners and one of the strongest duos in Challenge history: She hand-picked him — without so much as an introduction — as her newbie teammate on Fresh Meat, and, together, they proceeded to steamroll over the competition. It was, however, a bit of a shock that they evolved into great friends too. In 2006, Coral was already a totally resolved, strong woman from the city, while Evan was a corn-fed, 20-year-old hockey player from Canada. In spite of such seeming polarity, though, Team Brown got on like gangbusters, sharing a sense of humor that transcended their differences, a similar approach to game play and complete and mutual respect, something they both struggled to secure elsewhere on the series. It was a shame that Coral’s final appearance on The Challenge — Gauntlet 3 — left her seemingly ironclad camaraderie with Evan on the rocks.
Kailah and Jenna
While Kailah is the type of girl you could picture getting suspended in school for smoking in the bathrooms or tagging a wall with graffiti, Jenna seems like she’d have been the consummate golden child and a soft-spoken friend to everyone. And that’s why the evolution of Kailah’s friendship with Jenna has been particularly interesting: Even Jenna once observed that she didn’t understand why everybody “hates Kailah” (Jenna, on the other hand, is one of the cast’s most beloved contenders). Still, they haven’t let judgment get the better of them: Whether they’re flying high or on a sinking ship, theirs is one of the most unbreakable alliances in the show’s history.
Sarah and Kenny
Sarah seemed like a glutton for punishment on The Ruins when — in spite of the fact that Kenny ribbed her like it was his job — she kept going back for more. Finally, though, when Kenny saw that he hurt Sarah, he made amends, and their friendship developed into something real — so much so that Kenny considered Sarah his most loyal ally on Fresh Meat II (unfortunately, Wes caught on to this and sent Sarah home early). While Kenny can be loud and abrasive, Sarah has been more the kind, measured type, making the bond they forged all the less likely.