|Genre||Reality game show|
|Created by|| Mary-Ellis Bunim|
|Presented by||T. J. Lavin|
|Starring||(Season-specific) the winners of a given season|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||25|
|Running time|| 30 minutes
|Original run||June 1, 1998 – present|
|Preceded by|| The Real World|
The Challenge casts are season specific as the cast varies from season to season. The casts can only be made up of A.) contestants originating from one of The Challenge's related TV programs or B.) contestants originating from one of the few Challenge seasons that have allowed previously unknown contestants. These shows and seasons are: The Challenge's two precursor programs, The Real World and Road Rules; The Challenge's spin-off television program, Spring Break Challenge; and The Challenge's own Fresh Meat seasons (only the seasons Fresh Meat, and Fresh Meat II have introduced new cast members that have never before appeared on The Real World, Road Rules, or Spring Break Challenge). Many of the seasons differ in terms of which of the six aforementioned series they've obtained contestants from. For example, some seasons have obtained contestants from different seasons of solely The Real World and Road Rules; some seasons have obtained contestants from different seasons of solely The Real World; some seasons have obtained contestants from all the above; etc.
A season's typical multitude of cast members are usually divided up into separate teams according to a certain criteria, which varies from season to season. The criteria that teams have been arranged by over the show's history have ranged all across the board, from gender of the contestants and original show of contestants to bad guy/good guy status of contestants and ex-romantic partners of contestants. Each of the opposing teams compete in numerous missions in order to win prizes and advance in the overall game. Following each mission, a team or a cast member is voted into an elimination round to take on the least successful team from the previous mission. In elimination rounds, they must compete against one another to determine which one is eliminated from the season. Each season has its own, very distinct elimination round, distinguished from those of other seasons in title, design, and general atmosphere. Determining which two teams or two cast members are sent into the episode's elimination round frequently leads to drama and contestants playing the game dirty; this is due to the show's contestants being in charge of who is thrown into elimination rounds. Like that of The Real World, sporadically throughout the course of each episode, various contestants are seen privately expressing themselves through reality TV confessionals about the events taking place on the show.
Some seasons, however, have used entirely different formats from the typical: The Island is one Challenge in particular that adopted many features atypical to Real World/Road Rules Challenge, instead taking concepts like that of another reality television game show Survivor; as another example, the first season (Road Rules: All Stars) ironically only included contestants from The Real World and consisted of a much smaller cast before the show was completely reconstructed by its second season. Except for season one, a monetary prize has always been the award for winning the final mission.
TV show's conceptionEdit
During the filming of The Real World: Boston and Road Rules: Islands, the two casts met while the Real World cast was vacationing in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Producers set up a face-off where both teams would compete for a cash prize. The intensely competitive challenge brought in high ratings and this set ideas in motion to produce yet another spin-off series. After another face-off called AquaGames, hosted by Kit Hoover and Mark Long, between The Real World: Seattle and Road Rules: Down Under in 1997, a year followed until 1998, when the Challenge series was born with Road Rules: All Stars, and featured cast members from five different seasons of The Real World.
After All Stars, producers decided to include former castmembers of Road Rules in the series as well. In the next season, two six-member teams were sent around the world in a competition to see which show could best the other in head-to-head competition. The series followed the format for three years and brought in hugely successful ratings.
Following the hugely successful boom of reality television in the new millennium, producers decided to add new elements to the series. In 2001, production began on Battle of the Seasons. This season, the first to depart from the previous six-member structure, brought in a large group of former cast members to compete in one location. During the filming of this season, it was heavily rumored that the Challenge would borrow heavily from the hugely popular reality television show, Survivor. Cast members were "voted off the island" and for a short time during production, it was rumored that the cast was sleeping outside in tents. (This later proved to be false as the cast stayed in a five-star resort.)
Beginning with the first Battle of the Seasons, MTV added a fantasy challenge game to their website. Players "draft" cast members, a la fantasy baseball and cast members are given points for performing certain tasks, such as cursing or "hooking up."
After switching to the "vote off" format, the series would alternate between "Battle" seasons, including two seasons of Battle of the Sexes and themed Challenges which included the Gauntlet and Inferno seasons. Both the Gauntlet and Inferno seasons contained "showdown" matches between members of the two opposing teams. The cast member who lost the showdown would be sent home. The Gauntlet seasons featured an intra-cast dynamic as teams were forced to vote off cast members within their own groups into the showdown, while the Inferno seasons featured an inter-cast dynamic as teams were forced to vote off cast members from the other group into the showdown.
In 2005, Bunim-Murray Productions decided to invite new people to the Challenges who were never a part of either Real World or Road Rules and called them 'Fresh Meat'. This decision was forced, in part, because of the status of Road Rules at the time. While Road Rules had stopped production until further notice after its thirteenth season, Real World had just finished wrapping its sixteenth season in Austin, Texas. Road Rules had a fourteenth, and final, season in 2007. One additional 'Fresh Meat' season has followed with cast also being integrated in The Challenge from the 2010 Spring Break Challenge miniseries.