The Challenge Season 38, crowd-sourced & co-designed

9 min readJan 14, 2022


Hey all,

[no spoilers at all]

All Stars 2 is done — congrats to the winners, who played well all season but didn’t totally kill the final, and that’s all I’ll say about it. The episode ended with a teaser for All Stars 3, only showing TJ and that it filmed in Panama. If you’re curious about the cast, check out the article I wrote earlier this week: The Challenge All Stars 3 Cast Details & Insights.

That’s enough self-promotion for now 😜 To kick off the off-season, I ran a fun lil activity on The Challenge subreddit and shared it to The Challenge Discord, in which we crowd-sourced what we want Season 38 to look like.

How? Well, people commented whom they wanted as returning cast members and newbies, and others upvoted and downvoted to determine whether they hoped to see that player next season. Same deal with the format, twists, and filming location. I’ll be publishing the highest vote-getters in this article. [TL;DR at the bottom]

And before I look at the results, I’ll determine that I think the cast should be 32 people big with only 6 rookies. This may change, depending on the most popular answer for format, but that’s what I’m saying now, to be unbiased.

We have a whole bevy of fresh, exciting talent from Spies, Lies, and Allies who could return in lieu of total newbies. And that’s in addition to underused people from Double Agents (e.g. Natalie Anderson and Gabby), Total Madness (such as Asaf and Jay), and even the War of the Worlds seasons (Sean, Ashley Cain, Jenny, and Georgia, for instance). Oh, and let’s not forget previous one-hit-wonders like Cooke and Marlon that we’ve all been clamouring to see again, or All Stars crossovers like Kendal, Kellyanne, Nehemiah, and Jonna.

That’s my reasoning for keeping the number of rookies small. Disagree? “Well that’s you, and I’m sorry” 🎶

Let’s get to it.


The top 5 vote-getters were:

  • Battle of the Exes III — 151 points
  • Free Agents 2 — 134
  • Battle of the Shows — 131
  • Past Meets Present (OGs paired with Current Challengers) — 108
  • Duel III — 107

But because of the voted-on cast, an Exes 3 is not the best fit for the crowd-sourced season. I still went and tried to make it work for Exes 3 and Battle of the Shows, below, but ultimately, we are going with Free Agents 2.

And the cast?

Returning Women

Michele Fitzgerald — 287 pts

Natalie Anderson — 281

Laurel Stucky — 265

Jenny West — 253

[Emily Schromm — 253, but she’s an unrealistic casting choice, due to her Reebok contract, so she does not make this cast. maybe on All Stars 4?]

Michaela Bradshaw — 199

Georgia Harrison — 174

Kailah Casillas — 154

Melissa Reeves — 152

Kellyanne Judd — 148

Da’Vonne Rogers — 134 [not as unrealistic as you’d think 👀]

Heather Cooke — 123

Tori Deal — 115

Cara Maria Sorbello — 114

Honourable Mentions: Amber Bozotra (113), Sylvia Elsrode (111), Emy Alupei (106), Priscilla Anyubu (91), Sarah Rice (78)

[the Rest of the Best with at least 50 pts: Berna Canbeldek, Jodi Weatherton, Jonna Manion, Esther Agunbiade, Nia Moore, Amber Martinez, Nicole Zanatta]

Returning Men

Jay Starrett — 308 pts

Ed Eason — 302

Wes Bergmann — 297

Jordan Wiseley — 296

Kelz Dyke — 272

Theo Campbell — 262

Kyle Christie — 228

Darrell Taylor — 223

Tony Raines — 222

Cohutta Grindstaff — 199

Marlon Williams — 169

Joss Mooney — 169

Nam Vo — 160

Honourable Mentions: Corey Lay (153), CT Tamburello (151), Rogan O’Connor (143), Hunter Barfield (142), Devin Walker (141)

[Rest of the Best with at least 50 pts: Johnny Bananas, Nelson Thomas, Brad Fiorenza, Emanuel Neagu, Hughie Maughan, Ashley Cain, Frank Sweeney, Yes Duffy, Nehemiah, Derrick Kosinski, Fessy Shafaat, Gabo Szabó]

New Women

Louise Hazel — Champs vs Pros & Champs vs Stars 2 — 202 pts

Sammie Cimarelli — The Circle US season 1— 116

Lauren O’Connell — Survivor Edge of Extinction — 115

Honourable Mentions: Chloe Veitch (108), Kelley Wentworth (105), Sydney Segal (92), Cydney Gillon (61), Diandra Delgado (44)

New Men

Brett Robinson — Big Brother US 20— 90 pts

Mark Jansen —Big Brother US 19 — 71

Dean Kowalski —Survivor Island of the Idols — 65

Honourable Mentions: Derek Xiao (61), Xander Hastings (60), Wendell Holland (60), Tychon Carter-Newman (57), Kyland Young (52)

The Season

credit to Allan Aguirre

So using a critical eye and some of the honourable mentions, from this exercise a possible Exes 3 cast would be:

  • Michele/Jay (dated in real life)
  • Tori/Kelz (flirtmance on SLA)
  • Nia/Jordan (sexual tension on Real World)
  • Wes/Kellyanne (dated IRL)
  • Ashley Cain/Melissa (hooked up Ex on the Beach UK 2)
  • Kyle/Cara Maria (showmance on Vendettas)
  • Laurel/CT (showmance on Rivals I)
  • Berna/Nelson (showmance on SLA)
  • Hunter/Kailah (I seem to remember them having a fling but I could be wrong)

However, we have no possible, highly-voted partners for everyone else, including the HMs, so… No dice.

[And also, people would complain about Nia/Jordan, and want Tori/Jordan to be involved — but then there goes the partner for Kelz and Emanuel 😅]

We actually have the beginnings of an outstanding group for a potential Battle of the Shows. It could be:

Real World: Kailah, Kellyanne, Cooke, Sylvia, [Emily or Sarah], Jordan, Wes, Tony, Cohutta, Marlon

Survivor: Michele, Natalie, Michaela, Lauren, Emy, Jay, Dean, Emanuel, Xander, _______

But then things get tricky. Who’s the last Survivor guy? Ricard got 23 votes, but people like Nick, Matthew/Ashley, Christian, Jeremiah, and both halves of AYTO8 Jax received more.

And what could the third group be? Or do we make it 4 teams of 8? And if so, who do we cut from RW?

Big Brother has Da’Vonne, Amber B, Brett, Mark, Derek, Tychon, and Kyland, but it needs one less man and two more women. Are You the One has Tori, Nelson, Hunter, Devin — even more lacking.

And then there’s Love Island (Georgia Priscilla Theo), Ex on the Beach (Melissa Rogan Joss), The Circle (Ed Sammie Chloe), Too Hot to Handle (Kelz Chloe), and Fresh Meat (Laurel Cara) — with the rest having only one representative. Not nearly enough to form an 8- or 10-person team. Oh, how the mighty Road Rules has fallen 😢

So therefore, Season 38 will be:

and filmed in

Santorini, Greece! 🇬🇷

It got 91 points, with honourable mentions being Costa Rica (80 pts), Australia (70), Whistler (62), Tokyo (43), and Valparaiso (42).

Format Rules & Twists

It’s Free Agents 2, so each mission will be different — some individual, some paired, and some played in teams, like on Dirty 30, Vendettas, All Stars 1, and the first half of All Stars 2.

Last place automatically goes into elimination, something people are always wanting on the subreddit. This is easy and clean when the mission is individual or pairs, mind you… But once it gets to teams, what happens? TJ’ll have to figure that one out.

Oh, and who else goes into elim? The three highest vote-getters from the house vote flip a Kill Card to determine whom will face off against the last place losers in the mission that week.

We’re also bringing back the War of the Worlds 1 Relic, which means that the winners of the elimination are automatically safe from the next one they’re eligible for. This will (hopefully) prevent scapegoating like we’ve seen with Jay on Total Madness, Brandon Nelson and Camila on Cutthroat, and Wes and Casey on Fresh Meat 1.

How does this work with the Kill Card? Weellll, TJ will also have to hatch a plan to decide on that rule interaction.

Once the Top 3 men and women get to the final, the winners are determined by the total time it takes them to complete each stage/checkpoint — like on Free Agents 1 — instead of it being the first two to cross the finish line during the last stage. Seems fair, no?

And then the biggest twist of all — *rubs hands like TJ* — there is no excessive use of pyrotechnics 🎆 I know, craziness! But that’s what the people voted.


Free Agents 2 with

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

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

Filmed in Santorini 🇬🇷 with last place going into elimination against one of the top 3 house vote getters, determined by Kill Card, with the elim winner being safe from the next one, and the final decided by overall checkpoint time 😤


Oh, and does this pass the new rule for 50% people of colour on the cast? Natalie, Michaela, Kailah, Da’Vonne, Cooke, Louise, Jay, Kelz, Theo, Darrell, Marlon, Nam = 12/32. Close!

And if you swap in some of the HMs like Amber B, Sylvia, Diandra, Corey L, Cydney, Derek X, Wendell, Tychon, and Kyland — then you pass it with flying colours! 🏳‍🌈

[Plus, we are kidding ourselves if we are expecting the BB four to not be on next season — Bamber, Kaycee, Fessy, and Josh, all people of colour who bring either strong competition, big drama, or both]

Thanks for being part of this, y’all 😘




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