The Most Selfless Moves in Challenge History

Michael Alvey
5 min readJul 10, 2020

One of the most moving moments in recent years on The Challenge happened this week, as Nelson volunteered to go into elimination to help Cory make the final.

Did we just see the most selfless move in Challenge history?

10. Landon Steps In To Take Out Karamo (Inferno II)- Landon wanted to be the one who went into elimination against his Real World: Philadelphia castmate Karamo, so he used his Life Shield to step in for Miz. Landon defeated Karamo in the Knock Your Block Off elimination.

9. Emily Sends Herself In Against Paula (Cutthroat)- In the final elimination of Cutthroat, the only female options to into the gulag were the rookie Emily, who had already been in once, and the vet Jenn, who hadn’t been in yet.

Rather than making Jenn earn her spot in the final, Emily stepped up since Jenn outperformed her in that day’s Riot Act mission. Emily went on to take out Paula in the Pole Me Over elimination.

I’m not sure if this move says more about Emily’s character or Jenn’s incredible political game, but either way it was a noble move by one of the greatest female competitors of all time.

8. Mark Lets Eric Go to the Final (Battle of the Sexes 2)- An OG saved an OG on Sexes 2, as Mark sacrificed himself for the jump rope king Eric Nies.

Mark wanted to let Nies pick up his first “real” win (wiki credits him as winning Road Rules: Allstars, but let’s be honest—that wasn’t a real season of The Challenge), so he stepped aside despite having outperformed Eric throughout the season.

Of course, there’s two huge asterisks on Mark’s decision. The first is that throwing the challenge was more about keeping the weak link Arissa on the Women’s team than it was helping out Eric. The other is that Mark spilt the money with Eric, Dan and Theo, so he still got paid.

Still, Mark gave up a victory and more cash to give the guys a better chance to win.

7. Kenny Saves Johnny (The Island)/Kenny Saves Pete and Jill (Fresh Meat II)- I’m going to combine two moves here from Mr. Beautiful.

Kenny could have just let Evelyn take Bananas’ key at the end of The Island, and his boat of himself, Derrick, Dunbar and Paula would have still demolished the other boat of Ev/Robin/Jenn/Ryan. But he stuck his neck out to cut a deal with Evelyn to take Dunbar’s key and save his buddy.

In the Turn Style mission on Fresh Meat II, Kenny/Laurel worked with Jill/Pete to make the final round, taking out Ryan/Theresa, Landon/Carley, Wes/Mandi and CJ/Sydney along the way.

Rather than face each other in the final round, Kenny/Laurel gave up an easy victory and let Jill/Pete win, basically volunteering themselves for exile after having won the last three missions.

They didn’t end up getting sent in because Wes and Evelyn were scared shitless to face them, but Kenny/Laurel thought they would be going into exile when they allowed Jill/Pete to win.

6. The Girls Let Diem Win (The Duel)- After one of the most powerful moments in Challenge history when Diem removed her wig before the Ring Toss mission, it would have felt wrong for anyone else to have won the challenge that day.

The girls didn’t target Diem, allowing her to have her moment in the sun. Until Tina and Beth started fighting immediately after, that is.

5. Timmy Volunteers Himself for Final Gauntlet (Gauntlet 2)- It didn’t seem fair that Derrick would have to go into a fifth gauntlet at the end of season 11, but somebody had to face him.

Before the vote, Timmy asked to be sent in because he felt Derrick would have a better chance against him than the other guys — Mark and David Burns. If Timmy hadn’t volunteered himself, David would have almost definitely been voted in.

Timmy defeated Derrick in Reverse Tug of War, ending Derrick’s Cinderella season.

4. CT Goes In For David (The Inferno)- Speaking of people saving David Burns’ ass. David couldn’t care less during The Inferno, and CT knew that his cousin would likely go home if he went into elimination against Shane.

So he used his LifeSaver to put himself in, and defeated Shane in the the grueling Don’t Toss Your Cookies elimination.

3. Alton Steps Up For Inferno (Inferno 3)- This was actually a pretty crazy move from one of the strongest males in Challenge history. Alton won the Life Saver for the first male elimination, and put himself in for Davis to face Tyrie.

This was Tyrie’s rookie season, so nobody knew he would turn out to be arguably the worst competitor in the history of the show. And the elimination was a puzzle, making it more of a crapshoot than if Alton got to face Tyrie in something physical.

Since he’s Alton, he knew that it was still very unlikely that he would lose, but putting himself in for a rookie was still an extremely selfless move.

2. CT Lets Wes Go to the Final (Champs vs. Pros)- Even though they were playing for charity and not cash in their own pockets, this was the pinnacle of the CT/Wes relationship (from a positive standpoint, that is. This will always be their best moment).

Wes had already won three eliminations on Champs vs. Pros, but Camila had a choice to have either him or CT as her partner in the final. CT told her to bring Wes since he had earned his spot in the final more than he had.

1 Nelson Sacrifices Himself For Cory (Total Madness)- I didn’t want to fall prey to recency bias, but I truly believe what Nelson did is the most selfless act in Challenge history.

With a share of $1 million on the line, Nelson could have let Bananas and Kyle determine for themselves to throw in either himself or Cory. But he stepped up and told them to throw him in, allowing Cory to be safe and make the final.

If Cory goes in against Rogan, he almost certainly loses. Nelly T gave Rogan a great fight, but he came up short and got sent home right before the final.

You see acts of friendship sometimes on The Challenge, but this was something more. This was an act of brotherhood.