The Challenge 38: What Could Have Been

8 min readOct 11, 2022


Absolutely ZERO spoilers for RoD placement / eliminations / winners!

The 38th season of The Challenge premieres so soon!! And while there are some hype returns to the flagship show — Laurel! Jordan! Turbo! Darrell! — ultimately, the cast and theme is subpar.

So here’s an article about what this season COULD have been, with the competitors we actually got on the show, in addition to the alternates and almost-cast.

But first, why I say the cast and theme is subpar:

  • Season 37 added a whole TWENTY NEWBIES to the franchise. That’s the size of the entire Inferno 1 and 2 casts. And so many were promising… And then we only get Michele on the next szn
  • Instead of using exciting new cast members from SLA and before (e.g. Natalie A, Ashley C), we once again get a bunch of total randoms. Who wants to see Kaycee’s brother on The Challenge? Literally nobody
  • Alumni from The Challenge: USA were not eligible to compete here, when they have nothing but potential. Can you imagine Angela on S38 with Tyson or Tyler? Xavier with Alyssa? Ben & Sarah?
  • Multiple pairs are stretches, like Aneesa & Jordan, Analyse & Tommy B, both German pairs, and how Tamara is not actually Turbo’s girlfriend
  • Szn 38 is our THIRD consecutive season with male-female pairs. Where is the innovation? It’s all gonna feel samey
  • Wasting a Ride or Die theme on a mixed gender season leaves out so many pairs that fans have wanted to see compete together for years, such as Cory/Nelson, Amanda/Ashley, Joss/Rogan, Jenna/Kailah, Johnny/Kyle, Sarah/Susie, and Cohutta/Abram
  • Nobody wants to see Nany or Aneesa again, let alone in a repeat partnership with Johnny or dragging down one of the best players respectively

First option: Invasion of the Champions II

I personally LOVED Invasion and saw it as such a fresh and necessary reset to the franchise. The “challenge” with having a sequel season is the unavailability of women champs. But that’s not the case for Ride or Dies, when we actually got a perfect 4 and 4 for an Invasion 2:

Women Challenge Champs: Laurel, Amber, Kaycee, Veronica

Men Challenge Champs: Jordan, Turbo, Johnny, Darrell

So take those 8 and bring them in later — and throw the rest of the cast on a season together before the show up. It could be that easy.

However, the cast would figure it out. So a twist I have in mind is — first feature the non-winners like on Invasion 1, then have the Challenge Champs invade, as they would expect. And THEN later have a team of people who won other reality shows invade AGAIN. I know, right? “This changes everything!”

People already on the cast who qualify here:

Women Champs from other shows: Michele (Survivor 32), Olivia (Love Island US 3), Kaycee (but she’s already used)

Men Champs from other shows: Devin (Are You the One Second Chances), Turbo (but he’s already used)

So then you have to find other people to fill in. An easy one is Josh Martinez (Big Brother US 19), who was an alternate on-location. Same deal with Libho Geza & Thimna Shooto, the winning pair from Love Island South Africa.

Natalie Anderson and Tommy Sheehan were on recent seasons as well, both Sole Survivors from season 28 and 39 respectively. Tommy S apparently was considering being on Ride or Dies with Lauren Beck, but she declined. If it was Invasion 2, he would’ve been an easy get.

You could also tap into alumni from The Challenge USA, which was bursting with winners! Justine Ndiba (Love Island US 2), Sarah Lacina (Survivor 34), Ben Driebergen (Survivor 35), Tyson Apostol (Survivor 29), Xavier Prather (BB US 23), and James Wallington (The Amazing Race 32).

Even the alternates for Challenge USA had winners: Olivia, mentioned above, and Mike Holloway, the winner of Survivor 30.

So an Invasion of the Champions II was more than possible, with

2 waves of champs invading

Laurel, Amber, Kaycee, Veronica, Jordan, Turbo, Darrell, Johnny B (8)

Michele, Olivia, Natalie A, Thimno, Devin, Josh, Libho, Tommy S (8)

People who would have made the cast if this were the format — meaning no need for a suitable partner:

Kailah, Tori, Nany, Nurys, Colleen, Analyse, Georgia (dropped by production), Melissa R (dropped when Brad dropped), Berna (didn’t have a partner), Michaela (didn’t receive enough money)/Esther A (passport issues)— 10

Fessy, Jay, Nelson, Nam, Johnny M, Sam, Theo (dropped by production), Corey L (alternate), Kelz (dropped when Priscilla dropped), Emanuel (dropped when production dropped Emy) — 10

But if that’s splitting hairs, then could just include Kim, Horacio, Tommy B, and Emmy anyway — doesn’t matter.

Second option: same-gender Ride or Dies

The last time we had all same-gender pairs and therefore four champions was Rivals II, which was 13 seasons and nearly ten years ago. Would be so great to have this again, instead of the same-old M/F pairs and two winners.

Obviously, the cast we got was built around male-female allies / loved ones, so it’s difficult to switch it up for same-gender besties. There are some that could go together easily, like Josh & Devin and Tori & Aneesa — but it’s not a neat fit. So the second option is a fan cast for a fictional “Allies” format — the opposite of Rivals. So it could be:

Cory & Nelson, Johnny B & Kyle, Josh & Fessy, Joss & Rogan, Jordan & Marlon, Kyland & Xavier (Challenge USA), Ed & Mitchell Eason (The Circle 2), Devin & Mark Jansen (BB19, Ex on the Beach 3), Jay & Billy Reilich (Ex on the Beach 3)

Alts: Darrell & Derrick K, Paulie & Cody Calafiore (BB16, BB23)

Mark, Cody, Billy

Ashley & Amanda, Kaycee & Nany, Tori & Aneesa, Kailah & Sylvia, Priscilla & Bettina, Michele & Natalie A (Survivor 40), Angela & Alyssa (Challenge USA), Laurel & a woman friend/relative, Diandra & Nurys (AYTO 6)

Alts: Esther A & Berna, Justine & Kyra (Challenge USA)

Alyssa, Angela, Natalie, Michele
Sylvia, Kailah, Nurys, Diandra

Third option: Ride or Dies recast

There are so many better teams that could have been on the season as-is than what we got. It’s baffling how we didn’t get so many of these heavy hitters. Apparently some were contacted / supposed to be on but didn’t make it for various reasons. But this is what it could have been:

Theo & Georgia, Paulie & Cara, Jonna & MJ, Emy & Emanuel, Kailah & Sam, Fessy & Kaycee, Priscilla & Kelz, Devin & Tori, Nelson & Ashley, Laurel & Jakk, Jordan & Nia, Michaela & Jay, Michele & Corey L, Josh & Nany, Berna & Turbo, Alyssa & Xavier (BB23), Tyler & Angela (BB20)

And then there are some even more out-there teams that are possible: Louise Hazel & Casper Smart, Jenny & Rogan, Natalie A & Jeremy Collins, Ben & Sarah, Tony & Nicole Z, Mitchell Eason & Khat Bell (The Circle 2), Nick Uhlenhuth & Kai Ghost (The Circle 3), Jacey-Lynne Graham & Gino Giannopoulos (BB Canada 10)…

Fourth option: Crowdsourced Fantasy Season

Free Agents 2, filmed in Greece, with the fantasy cast as follows

In order of popularity, the women would be:

Michele, Natalie A, Laurel, Jenny, Michaela, Georgia, Kailah, Melissa, Kellyanne, Da’Vonne, Cooke, Tori, Cara Maria, Louise Hazel, Sammie Cimarelli, Lauren O’Connell

(right after, Amber B, Sylvia, Emy, Priscilla, Sarah R)

And then men would be, also in descending order of popularity:

Jay, Ed, Wes, Jordan, Kelz, Theo, Kyle, Darrell, Tony, Cohutta, Marlon, Joss, Nam, Brett Robinson, Mark Jansen, Dean Kowalski

(right after, Corey L, CT, Rogan, Hunter, Devin)




I write about MTV’s The Challenge, with a queer / social justice / critical analysis bent. #UnspoiledGang