The Amazing Race

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe. Go!"

Phil Keoghan, starting off every season.

Emmy-winning Reality Show created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster and aired on CBS since 2001. Hosted by Phil Keoghan, the show could vaguely be considered the Reality Show version of Around the World in Eighty Days.

Eleven or twelve two-person teams go on a journey around the world, following clues and performing tasks in order to be the first to arrive at the designated Pit Stop; the last team to arrive is usually (but not always) eliminated.

The most common types of tasks that the racers must perform along the way:

  • Detour - A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. For Seasons 1-4, one route was typically shorter but harder (or scarier) to use while the other was longer but relatively easier. Starting with Season 5, it became more of a choice between two conflicting skill sets, such as Brains vs. Brawn, or something highly technical vs. grunt work. However, up until about Season 12, the tasks were still unbalanced enough that teams could easily see that one was much faster than the other. The producers have gotten better at this in recent seasons, and it's now uncommon to see all the teams choose the same Detour.
  • Roadblock - A Roadblock is a task that only one team member can perform; the choice must be made with only a vague clue to hint at the task. As of Season 6, the rules specify that no individual racer can perform more than a set number of Roadblocks, meaning the tasks must be split between teammates somewhat fairly.
  • Fast Forward - A special task that allows a team to bypass all other tasks and head directly to the Pit Stop. Fast Forwards are only awarded to the first team to complete the task, and teams are limited to one Fast Forward per race. The earliest seasons had Fast Forwards available on every leg, but due to the expense of setting them up they were only offered once or twice a race.
  • Yield/U-Turn - These allow one team to hinder the progress of another. The Yield (Seasons 5-11) makes the affected team wait for approximately 30 minutes before they're allowed to continue the race, while the U-Turn (Season 12 and onward) forces them to go back to the Detour they just finished and complete the other task. If the targeted team is already past the Yield or U-Turn at that point, it has no effect. There have been some variations on the U-Turn, such as the Blind U-Turn (Season 14), where the team using it can remain anonymous, and the Double U-Turn (Season 17 and beyond), where two teams can each hinder a group behind them.
  • Speed Bump - Also introduced in Season 12, the Speed Bump is a short penalty task assigned to teams that placed last in non-elimination legs of the race. The Speed Bumped team must complete the task before they are allowed to continue. (Prior to this, non-elimination penalties involved confiscation of money and possibly possessions, or a time penalty on the next leg if they did not come in first.) Season 19 introduced a task called a Hazard, which is functionally similar but given to the team who finished last on the race's first task.

So far there have been three "gimmick" seasons: "Family Edition" (Season 8), which expanded teams to four people (including kids) and limited itself to traveling North America; "All-Stars" (Season 11), bringing back several previous racers; and "Unfinished Business" (Season 18), a second All-Stars encompassing Seasons 12-17, but with the twist that none of the returning teams have won.

The show has done well with both critics and fans, with the possible exception of the aforementioned Family Edition, which sacrificed exotic world locales and interpersonal drama for a competitive family road trip.

Amazing Race, like all reality shows, consists of a camera crew following the teams as they race across the globe; accordingly, for legal and political reasons, all participants must be US citizens, and legally able to travel outside of the US. The show is much less frustration-wrought than, say, Survivor -- less emphasis is placed on knocking the other team out of the proverbial race, which allows for a more 'relaxed' atmosphere while showcasing some of the absolutely gorgeous scenery and geography in many of the world's most exotic countries.

Heck, it's even mildly educational, owing to the fact that some of the clues require calculation, riddle- and puzzle-solving, and a passing familiarity with the notable landmarks in a given country.

Fittingly, other countries have produced their own versions of the show: Foreign Versions:

  • The Amazing Race Asia: Having run four seasons, this version is open to English-speaking citizens of South and East Asian countries or foreign nationals living in Asia (Russian and Middle Eastern citizens are not eligible). Contestants travel throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. The final prize is US$100 thousand, compared with the US version's million dollar payout.
  • The Amazing Race en Discovery Channel: Having two seasons, this version is open to Spanish-speaking residents of Latin America and the Caribbean (Cubans, French Guianians, Puerto Ricans, and most citizens of the Lesser Antilles need not apply). Contestants only travel throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. A third season titled The Amazing Race Latinoamérica is currently airing. The final prize was US$250 thousand.
  • The Amazing Race: A Corrida Milionária: A one-off season that was open solely to Brazilians and traveled throughout all of Brazil, and a couple of stops in Chile. The final prize was R$500 thousand (about US$325 thousand).
    • The Brazilian version is dubiously known for having one of the teams and their production crew robbed at gunpoint and being forced to stop racing until the local police could retrieve the camera and personal belongings of the crew. The team dropped from 4th to last, and were granted a non-elimination leg penalty. They were ultimately unable to recover and were eliminated two episodes later, after having come in first place on the leg before the robbery.
  • HaMerotz LaMillion: With two seasons and a third in the works, this version is open solely to Israelis and traveled around the Eastern Hemisphere. The final prize was ₪1 million (approximately US$147 thousand).
  • The Amazing Race: China Rush: Having two seasons, this version traveled to locales in the People's Republic of China. The first season was open to English-speaking expatriates living in the PRC and the second included anyone from outside of China who can speak English or Chinese. The final prize was a trip around the world financed by a travel agency.
    • This was preceded by the knock-off[1] Shanghai Rush which was open to Chinese citizens and foreign nationals and traveled solely throughout the districts of Shanghai, performing tasks at each stop rather than Detours or Roadblocks.
  • The Amazing Race Australia: Open to Australian citizens, the first season followed similar rules to the Asian versions in that they do not visit the Americas. Teams have been announced for a second season. Final prize is A$250 thousand.
  • The Amazing Race Norge: Currently airing, this version is open solely to Norwegians and traveled around the Eastern Hemisphere. The final prize is a new car for each person and NOK 500 thousand (approximately US$100 thousand in total).
  • The Amazing Race Central Europe: Cancelled version that would have been open to residents of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

Not to be confused with Amazing Freaking Grace, though that hasn't stopped some from making that pun anyway.

Tropes used in The Amazing Race include:

All Versions

  • All There in the Manual:
    • The full rules of the Race are never fully disclosed to the audience during the show, and they find out about many rules only when a team breaks them. According to former Racers, however, the teams spend a good bit of time being briefed on the actual Manual before the Race starts.
    • The audience only sees a single fairly brief page in the task envelopes that the teams open at each box. Again, teams have stated that there are usually supplementary sheets as well, with more details, limitations, and requirements for successfully completing the task.
  • The Alleged Car: Some of the cars the teams are given turn out to be this, and it's obviously quite deliberate.
  • Anticlimax: Sometimes no matter how carefully producers arrange things teams will make mistakes and the outcome to an episode or a season will be perfectly obvious.
  • The Artifact: The Fast Forward. For the first four seasons, there was one on every leg, in theory giving each team a chance at one free pass. However, for budgetary reasons (as it was not cost-effective to set up all these single-use tasks, especially when half of them never got used, and therefore never made it onto the show), starting with Season 5 (and in all the foreign versions) the Fast Forward was cut back to only one or two per season, although the "one per team" rule still applied. With all the strategy drained out of it, the Fast Forward has mostly become a cheap and/or easy win for a team that was already in the lead, as no team outside of the lead pack would dare risk it, as to not get it would mean certain elimination (as happened to Terence & Sarah on US Season 13, or Joey "Fitness" & Danny on US Season 20).
  • Back for the Finale: All eliminated teams show up at the Finish Line to cheer on the final three teams, with only a few exceptions. (Such as a team losing a passport)
  • Backseat Driver: All the time when teams are tasked with driving themselves. As a bonus, because of the way the camera crew positions themselves in the car, the non-driving teammate is always positioned directly behind the driver.
  • Blindfolded Trip: Sometimes the teams are given charter buses or planes to sign up for, but are not told their ultimate destination.
  • Boring but Practical: Some of the Detour choices can end up being a choice between an exciting but more skill-intensive task and this. In the worst-case scenario, the viewers don't get to see the exciting task at all. This was less apparent with earlier seasons when "fear" was a supposed "con" of the more exciting tasks and the boring tasks were more time-consuming.
  • Born Lucky: A few teams manage to have extremely lucky streaks, just finding the right cab drivers, or even being bailed out by friendly locals.
  • Born Unlucky: In contrast, some teams have terrible luck, always finding the worst cab driviers and getting bad information from locals.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: When the producers realized teams were no longer intimidated by jumping off things, they started making the teams climb them instead, such as in the US Season 10 premiere where the teams had to climb the Great Wall of China to get to the Pit Stop on top.
  • Confession Cam: A variant, as teammates almost always do them together.
  • Crossdresser: Deliberately invoked. When required to wear an outfit, uniform, or costume, teams are often given the exact same set of clothing, regardless of gender orientation.
  • Culture Equals Costume: Costumes play a big part of the race; locals hired to run tasks and pit stop greeters will usually be in traditional costumes, and often racers will be put in costume as part of a task. Averted, of course, for everyone else the racers encounter.
  • The Day the Music Lied: Happens when a team realizes they've made a mistake, generally accompanied by a Record Needle Scratch or alternately a Gong of Stupidity for particularly bone-headed moves.
  • Difficulty Spike: The Race intentionally tries to make the tasks start off relatively easy; but they get more and more difficult as the season goes on (Partly because a lot of difficult tasks early-on would be hell on the editors.) However, generally a third of the way through the season there's a notable difficulty spike.
  • Directionless Driver: Comes up more than you would expect, but there seems to be at least one team per season who would prefer to work off of maps than ever ask for directions from locals.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Some cab drivers, especially in countries where traffic is prone to be like this in general. In US Season 4, Tian & Jaree's driver in India drove on the wrong side of the highway at night with his lights off.
    • During US Season 3, while in Portugal, Andre & Damon were this without a driver:
  • Eat That
  • Eliminated From the Race: The Trope Namer.
  • Elimination Catchphrase: "I'm sorry to tell you, you've both been Eliminated From the Race."
  • Elimination Statement: Generally much more positive and supportive than on other Reality Shows.
  • Epic Race
  • Face Plant / The Pratfall: Racers fall down... a lot, and 95% of the time it's played for laughs, and plenty of times they even get back up and start laughing themselves.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Especially hilarious when the cameraman sees whatever the racers don't.
  • Failing a Taxi: Will happen from time to time, and is always played for drama. Most of the time it happens because teams will be tasked with finding a cab in an area that doesn't have many.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Generally when a team talks about how much they miss their family back at home, especially early in the race, you can expect them to get eliminated that episode.
  • Fetch Quest: Get Object A, take to Location B to receive your next clue, return to starting point to retrieve your teammate.
  • Final Exam Finale: The finale of most seasons includes a puzzle as the final task, usually asking the teams to identify things from the race and put them in order. These items can include flags, locations, Pit Stop greeters, or the order of elimination from the previous legs. Here's an example from US Season 9, involving flags.
  • Follow That Car!: Just about every episode of the show has some variant of this trope. The second season finale was even titled "Follow That Plane".
  • Friendship Moment: The whole point of having teams of two instead of individual racers.
  • Global Ignorance: It is a travel show, after all, and not all of the contestants have exactly been geniuses.
  • Graceful Loser: It's actually rare for a losing team not to be graceful in defeat, and many teams in the Final 3 are just happy having gotten to run the whole race.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Clues are hidden this way all the time, though most notoriously in US Season 19, when the clue was a giant flashing sign written in Chinese that many of the teams spotted then disregarded at first.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Some of the couples teams are like this.
  • An Insert: Showing off clue packets and other items involved in tasks. Known as "Exposition Hands" by the fans.
  • Jerkass: There's generally one every season.
    • Jerk Jock: This type included, and they're usually paired with a girlfriend.
  • Landing Gear Shot: Given that The Amazing Race is a race around the world, it uses this trope all the time when using planes.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: There are a number teams who struggle early on, though manage to stick around and turn it on late in the season to become major threats.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Justified, as teams have to carry their entire wardrobe on their backs.
  • Linked-List Clue Methodology
  • Luck-Based Mission: "Needle in a Haystack" tasks. One of the most hated tasks.
    • Whether you get a good or bad taxi driver can have a significant impact on how you do in a leg. In earlier seasons, this sometimes factored heavily in the finales. Later seasons have been designed so that performance on the tasks has a better chance to offset an unlucky choice of cabbie.
  • MacGuffin Location: Everywhere, every episode.
  • Mercy Kill: Of the non-lethal variety. When a team gets so far behind that it would be impossible for them to catch up to the other teams, they are given a clue that sends them right to the Pit Stop for their elimination. If they're really stuck (usually trying to complete a task) and can't even get to the next clue, the host will come to them.
  • Metal Detector Puzzle
  • Mix and Match: Travelogue Show + Reality Show
  • Mobstacle Course: Happens in big cities, especially in India. Sometimes used as a task where teams have to find a specific person within the mob.
  • Mood Motif: An overabundance of them. When they're not using a Regional Riff, it's probably this. The most notable are those used for the first and last place teams coming into the Pit Stop.
  • Mythology Gag: Although they don't necessarily point it out, many of the later international editions would either recycle locations and tasks from the US edition, or recycle tasks from each other. Australia Season 1 utilized this the most, as every other leg featured a task or location borrowed from the US or Asian versions.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The show is quite fond of this trope. One notable example came in US Season 17, where one Road Block had racers using chopsticks to find pieces of fake food hidden in a gigantic table of real food. The catch was that if they picked wrong, they had to eat the food they chose. Naturally, this started becoming a huge problem when a few teams started making several dozen wrong guesses in a row...
  • No Damage Run: Seventeen teams have made it to the Final 3 without ever being in danger of elimination (that is, finishing in the bottom 2 on any given leg), and eight of them can be considered FlawlessVictories, that being Meghan & Cheyne on US Season 15, Kisha & Jen on US Season 18, Ernie & Cindy on US Season 19, Rachel & Dave on US Season 20, Adrian & Collin on Asia Season 2, Shay & Guy on Israel Season 1, Mauricio & Carlos on Latin America Season 2, and Nicolás & Cristóbal on Latin America Season 3. The others are:
    • Both Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita did it on US Season 1, but due to the way the course was set up it was impossible for them to finish below 2nd place after leg 9, and considering at least half a dozen teams have lost their No Damage Runs after leg 9, there's no telling what would have happened had the other teams been allowed to catch up.
    • Dustin & Kandice did it on All-Stars, but finished 2nd overall.
    • Margie & Luke on US Season 14, only to finish 3rd when Luke choked on the Final Puzzle.
    • Perri & Maristela also did it in the Brazilian version, but unlike other teams who made it to the Final 3, they were actually disqualified halfway through the final leg for quitting a task.
    • Toño & Lili pulled a No Damage Run on Latin America's Season 2, but finished 2nd overall.
    • Rovilson & Marc pulled one in Season 2 of the Asian version, along with one of the best run games in Amazing Race history, never placing below second and coming 1st in 8 out of 12 legs, but ultimately a struggle in the final Roadblock put them in 3rd place for that season.
    • Jill & Thomas, US Season 17, also made it to the Final 3 unscathed, though whether or not they were never in danger of elimination is debatable. They then finished 3rd in the finale.
    • Anaelle & Akiva did on Israel Season 2, and were in the lead most of the final leg, but struggled with the final task and ultimately fell to 3rd.
  • Non Gameplay Elimination: Generally happens at least Once a Season, mostly due to the tight shooting schedule and loads of travel making it impossible to wait around for a single lagging team to finish a leg. Specific examples listed under the regional folders.
  • No Sense of Direction: At least one team a season gets eliminated after getting tragically lost. Has led to a few Shocking Eliminations.
  • Odd Name Out: Take a look at the names of all the tasks and related material: Detour, Roadblock, Yield, Intersection, U-Turn, Speed Bump, Express Pass, and...Fast Forward? One has to wonder why no one thought of calling it a "Shortcut" instead.
  • "On the Next...": Somehow manages to combine Trailers Always Spoil, Trailers Always Lie, and Pseudo Crisis all into a 15 second clip.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Tasks like this are becoming more and more prevalent as the seasons pass, some of the clues as well.
  • Path of Most Resistance: Showed up on a lot of early Detours, where one was scary or physically challenging, but fast, while the other was safe, but tedious and time-consuming. Used very frequently on the first four seasons, but not too often anymore, as the longer option was rarely taken.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy: Some couple teams come off like this under the stresses of the Race, though most don't tend to act that way in real life.
  • "Previously On...": Usually only the finale references more than the previous episode.
  • The Power of Friendship: One of the main themes behind the race, with "teamwork" being one of the main skills necessary to win the Race that Phil brings up in his pre-Race speech every season. Sure, teams like Zach & Flo (3), Freddy & Kendra (6), and Eric & Danielle (11) have managed to win with less than stellar teamwork, but bickering and in-fighting usually kills a team's chances.
  • Pseudo Crisis: Both in episode and in the previews.
  • Read The Freaking Clue: Read it all.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: Actually averted most of the time; the majority of teams in later seasons make it clear that they have seen previous seasons. That said, failure to Read The Freaking Clue properly still happens way more often than it should.
    • Expect to hear a variation of "We did all that work on the last leg, only to have every team get on the same flight," at least once per season, despite equalizers having been a staple of the race since the beginning.
    • Some teams don't seem to realize that there's going to be a thrill challenge somewhere. Or that there will actually be tasks where they have to swim, or that the final leg of the race is going to have a puzzle. Same with people who don't know how to drive a stick shift.
  • Recurring Traveller: Phil Keoghan, Allan Wu, and all the other hosts, showing up at the Pit Stops to officially check the teams in.
  • Regional Riff
  • Rubber Band AI: For various reasons, production creates "bunching points" or "equalizers," usually involving operating hours or transport schedules, so no team gets too far ahead or behind: Logistically, it's easier to keep the crew in a single country at a time and you don't want to tie up locals in assisting/judging tasks for days on end. Dramatically, having wins or losses be a Foregone Conclusion every week is boring.[2]
  • Sadistic Choice: The producers learning how to balance Detours means that instead of choosing between a hard Detour and an easy one, there are now times when teams have to choose between two brutally hard ones.
  • Scenery Porn: The world is a very beautiful place!
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful: Heavily subverted. A lot of female teams talk about using their looks to their advantage. However, this rarely comes into play, and bringing it up pretty much guarantees a team's elimination down the line.
  • Sibling Team: There's a couple of them every season.
  • Standard Snippet: When coming across a musical task, expect it to involve one of these.
  • Surprise Difficulty: Even racers who have been fans of the series for years have finished the first leg in shock of how difficult the Race actually is. Even racers who've won other Reality Shows have commented on it.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The U-Turn, which replaced the Yield.
  • The Taxi: The second most common form of transportation (after airplanes), with entire seasons turning on teams getting good or bad cab drivers.
  • Technology Marches On: Cell phone and smartphone proliferation has had a huge effect on the race metagame. Racers are barred from carrying phones themselves, but it's become increasingly easier to borrow a local's phone to call a cab or Google information about their clue or something.
    • This very thing helped Nat & Kat win US Season 17, as in the finale they made sure their cab driver had a phone the could use to figure out their puzzle clue, while the other two teams just jumped in a random cab. Jill & Thomas in particular got hopelessly lost as a result.
    • When Kaylani & Lisa lost a passport before even leaving the States in US season 19, Twitter and other social media helped get it back to them. Something like this would have been impossible in early seasons.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Not every team finds themselves ultimately getting along, Tara & Wil (US Season 2) being the best example.
  • Tempting Fate: All the time, mostly on legs when a team in the front of the pack boasts about how good they've been doing, that generally means they're about to struggle for the first time. It's almost expected to happen now.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Never shown, but frequently talked about, especially when teams spend the night in a remote location.
  • This Is A Race: Usually used to justify breaking an alliance. Also quite possibly the most quoted non-Phil line in the series.
  • Those Two Guys: Since all teams are pairs, you will end up seeing several of these.
  • Time Passes Montage: Usually when an "operating hours" equalizer is involved.
  • Title Drop: Oh, so many references to the race being "amazing". Additionally, at least in the US version, the episode titles are almost always something that one of the racers says during that leg.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Several female teams have fallen into this, though sisters Mary & Peach from US Season 2 are probably the best example. This seems to be a bad combination for female teams, as the girly girl tends to lag, forcing the tomboy to carry her weight.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Both inverted and played straight, depending on the episode. The safest team on any given leg is usually the one made to look like they were in danger in the trailers at the end of the previous episode, which makes it all the more shocking when they play it absolutely straight.
  • Travel Montage: Given that traveling is the main premise of the game...
  • Universal Driver's License: The show takes full advantage of the fact that many people believe this trope to be Truth in Television, making teams operate things like doubledecker buses, armored personnel carriers, and shipyard cargo cranes, as well as extending it to things like dogsleds and donkey carts. Count on at least one shot each season of a team member saying something like, "How hard can it be?" just before they screw up royally.
  • Viewers are Morons: Generally, the audience is told the location of the Pit Stop when the first team receives their final clue. However, when a Fast Forward is taken, viewers are told both after the Fast Forward is won and after the final clue, even if the two events are only a minute or two apart.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: A part of most eating tasks. Occasionally a Vomit Indiscretion Shot (or, at times, as close as it could get without trying to cram the cameraman into the bathroom stall with the racer).
  • We Wait: The producers are famous for subjecting the contestants to a variation of this trope (commonly referred to as "equalizers"). At the beginning of many legs of the race, Phil says "Racer A and Racer B, who arrived first at 1:53 p.m., will now depart at 1:53 a.m." (Actual times vary, of course.) And with the last place team, he says "Racer M and Racer N, who arrived at 4:14 p.m., will now depart at 4:14 a.m." Then the teams race to the airport to find that the first available flight to their destination doesn't leave until noon. Or they race to some local tourist trap that doesn't open until 10 a.m.
  • We're Not Here To Make Friends
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Put a million dollars on the line, and anything can become epic. In US Season 16, they did this with pouring champagne, and it actually worked.
  • Who Is This Guy Again?: Teams are usually referred to by the names of both contestants. Because of this, viewers have the tendency to forget which team member is which on homogenous teams, especially when they resemble each other (such as US Season 2's Chris & Alex, US Season 7's Brian & Greg, or US Season 10's Tyler & James). Then there's the several pairs of identical twins who have run the Race (Shola & Doyin, US Season 2; Derek & Drew, US Season 3; Kami & Karli, US Season 5; Liz & Marie, US Season 19; Elliot & Andrew, US Season 20, but they also had differing hair styles; Nicolás & Cristóbal, Latin America 3; Frank & Ivar, Norge; Michelle & Jo, Australia 2).
    • In an attempt to make this easier on the viewers, when next to each other, such as on the mat, or in post-leg interviews, teams sit or stand in the same order as their names will appear on the screen. Meaning the racer whose name is first is always on the viewer's left.
  • Whole Costume Reference: All the time with locals and Pit Stop Greeters.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: If a racer expresses a phobia at any time, expect them to have to face that phobia before the end of the season.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Racers tend to react like this when the race brings them in the presence of great natural beauty. Of course, there's also the subversion, usually brought on by bad interactions with locals, where racers declare that foreign cultures suck.

United States Version A-E

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Teams had to go through these in Paris (Season 1) and Vienna (Season 4).
  • Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male: Generally averted, with Ken & Tina (Season 13) probably being the best example. Sure Ken had cheated on her in the past, but fans disliked her for her behavior towards him anyway.
  • Abusive Parents: Ronald made his daughter Christina cry early in Season 12. He got better over the course of the season though.
  • Action Girl: Dustin & Kandice, Seasons 10 and 11. They were better at physical tasks than most of the men they were racing against, and became the measuring stick for every female team that came after them (and most female racers in general).
    • Tian (Season 4) not only completed ever Roadblock for her team, but, on leg 7, she was the first woman ever to participate in Bull Racing, and even made the local newspapers as a result.
    • Rebecca (Season 6) and Meghan (Season 15) both count, as they were both paired with boyfriends who became increasingly useless over the course of the season, forcing them to take charge.
    • Brook (Season 17) never seemed to run out of energy, even when her teammate Claire was practically begging her to slow down, and mentioned that she had done marathon running and rock-climbing in the past.
  • Action Mom: Karen (Season 5), a.k.a. the dark haired one of the "Bowling Moms", and Margie (Season 14).
  • Actor Allusion: While introducing Season 9's final Roadblock, which involved finding and putting the flags of every country they visited in order, Phil was shown standing in front of the New Zealand flag in one shot (were he was born), and in between the flags for Canada and Antigua and Barbuda in another (two countries in which he lived).
  • Adorkable: Dave & Lori (9) and Mark & Bill (13).
  • Aesop Amnesia: Over the course of Season 12, Ron learned to control his temper, and not to be so abusive towards his daughter. When he came back for Season 18, he seemed to forget all those lessons, and reverted to his old self.
    • It is common for couples to learn how to work out their differences only to completely forget how by the next leg. The fastest occurring case of this was with Wil (2), who promised to be more humble at the end of one leg, yet it only took five seconds for him to be rude to the boat driver at the start of the next leg.
  • All There in the Manual: Zev & Justin's elimination by lost passport in Season 15 was properly explained in an online video, where the team admits that they took a wrong turn and must have lost the passport in the dark (which also justified not showing it in the actual episode).
    • In Season 17, leg 7, Nick & Vicki were coming off of finishing last in a non-elimination leg, but inexplicably did not have to do a Speed Bump. It was leaked on Nick's Facebook page after the episode aired that the judge for the piano Detour on the previous leg had accidentally rejected their entry when they had actually completed the Detour correctly. So, the leg was hastily turned into a non-elimination leg with no Speed Bump penalty. However, it was later reported that lack of a Speed Bump was due to a production error that effected several teams, the maestro, did not, in fact, make an error, and that the leg was pre-planned as a non-elimination leg.
  • Alpha Bitch: There will be at least one woman who falls into this every season, Beauty Queens are especially prone to this.
  • Always Second Best: Danny & Oswald were the last team eliminated on both Seasons 2 and 11.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Sung in the Season 15 finale. By an Elvis impersonator. In a wedding chapel. In Las Vegas.
    • Season 17 included Connor & Jonathan, a pair of college students/a capella singers, and their introduction clips showed them singing the song as "Amazing Race". Surprising it took so long for the show to make that joke, really.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Rob & Amber's elimination on Season 11.
  • Anime Hair: Cheyne, Season 15. He had fans wondering how much hair gel he had to bring with him to keep his hair looking that spiky throughout the entire race.
  • Anticlimax: Unfortunately, three finales have ended with the winner being very apparent with lots of airtime still left to go:
    • The Season 1 finale's final fifteen minutes were mostly filler, as the top two teams got on two different trains in the Finish Line, while Joe & Bill were still stuck in Alaska.
    • Season 17, Nat & Kat so thoroughly dominated the final leg that it was clear they were going to win halfway through the episode, and they didn't see another team past the midpoint of the leg.
    • Season 19, Ernie & Cindy completely dominated the finale when the other two teams made vital mistakes early in the leg, to the point where they didn't see another team after leaving the first task.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Both played straight and averted, though the most prominent Asian racers (Ronald & Christina from Seasons 12 & 18, Tammy & Victor from Season 14, Kat from Season 17, and Cindy from Season 19) tend to fit this trope.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis:
    • Colin (Season 5) ran all of two legs before he reinvented the Race's entire Metagame. Some of his strategies included:
      • Being the first team to realize there was no downtime on the race. If he and Christie were not at a Pit Stop or sleeping, they were doing something to give them an advantage over the other teams.
      • They (along with Charla & Mirna) were the first team to take advantage of multiple flight bookings. Several times they got an advantage over other teams because they continued to look for better flights while the other teams sat around talking. They also maxed out their credit card multiple times booking alternate flights just in case one was delayed.
      • They figured out the importance of researching their next destination, even if they did not know where they were traveling within that city or country.
      • They were the first team to strategically ditch their bags instead of carrying them around everywhere, tiring themselves out, especially on the final leg when the extra clothes/possessions were no longer necessary.
      • They called ahead for a car in the Final Destination city, so that they were guaranteed to have a fast driver waiting there for them.
    • Nat & Kat (17) who, among other things, memorized a song by turning into a number pattern and managed to find a piece of fake food in a full buffet of real food in a matter of minutes.
  • Back for the Finale: All eliminated teams show up at the Finish Line to cheer on the final three teams, with only two exceptions:
    • In Season 13, 4th place team Toni & Dallas were absent from the Finish Line, as they had yet to recover their lost passports.
    • In Season 15, Eric & Lisa were eliminated before even leaving the US, and instead of going to the Elimination Station, they chose to leave the Race, and were therefore were not present at the finale.
  • Bar Slide: A task in Season 6 had the teams do this while aiming for a target on a bar made entirely of ice.
  • Base Breaker: Jaime & Cara cited themselves as Base Breakers in the pre-race interviews for Unfinished Business, saying that they were a team people loved or hated, there was no middle ground with them.
  • Batman Gambit: Used by Rob during the four pounds of meat Roadblock in Season 7. After deciding that eating four pounds of meat was impossible, he quit the task and took the four-hour penalty. Since the penalty did not start until the next team showed up, he used that to his advantage, waiting for his own penalty to start before convincing two other teams to also quit the task, counting on their squeamishness to cause them to follow his lead. Cue Evil Gloating about how he could not get eliminated that leg.
    • In Season 5, Chip & Kim built up Colin & Christie's egos and made them over-confident, trusting that any sort of struggle later would cause them to self-destruct. Earlier in the Season their plan was to encourage the rivalry between Colin and Mirna in order to get them to focus more on each other than the race, however Charla & Mirna got eliminated too quickly for this to come to fruition.
  • Bad Liar: In Season 18's penultimate leg, Flight Time & Big Easy and Zev & Justin had a flight that would put them in Brazil half a day in front of Kisha & Jen and Gary & Mallory, but when Mallory asked the Globetrotters if they had found a better flight, Flight Time's horrible lie all but gave away that they had, and all four teams got on the same flight.
  • Badass Grandparents: Fran & Barry, Season 9. The oldest team to ever win a leg, and not a cupcake leg either, as the Roadblock involved searching through a bunch of holes for a bag of meat in the middle of the desert. Phil was visibly shocked when they were the first team to come in. On another leg, they complained that the race was ruining their sex life.
    • Bill & Joe, Season 1, invented most of the show's basic Metagame and went into All-Stars with the other teams seeing them as one of the biggest threats.
    • Donald, Season 12, carried his grandson Nicolas into the Final 3.
    • Teri & Ian were in their fifties during both Season 3 (where they placed second overall) and Season 11 (where they placed seventh, but were generally doing well outside of the leg they were eliminated in). A major theme of Season 3 was how everyone overlooked them as a threatening team when they were too busy trying to knock Derek & Drew out of the race. In Season 11, Bill & Joe also commented on how Teri & Ian were more competent at racing than they were generally given credit for. At one point on Season 3, four teams put unleaded fuel in their diesel cars. Ian was the only one who took the initiative to fix the car by draining the unleaded fuel out of the tank.
    • Bill & Cathi, Season 19. Being a farmer, Bill blew through a Roadblock involving transporting 200 lb. bales of tobacco across a warehouse via handcart, easily beating former NFL tight end Marcus Pollard in the process. Cathi was no slouch either, carrying an entire bedframe on her back to the Pit Stop on that same leg. Two legs later, they were U-Turned and shrugged off the additional task without dropping a spot.
  • Bald of Awesome: Kevin & Drew (Season 1, though not so much during All-Stars), Shola & Doyin (2), Chip (5) Uchenna (7 & 11) & Joyce (7), Barry (9), Donald (12), and Flight Time & Big Easy (15 & 18).
  • Bi the Way: As stated in Brandy's (16) bio:

People would be surprised to learn: That I'm bisexual

  • Binocular Shot: Season 5, Episode 12, the racers had to identify the Philippines flag through binoculars. At one point, Brandon looked through the binoculars with the lens cover still on one side, and a single circular frame, offset to one side of the screen, was shown.
  • Big Eater: Chip was notable for how quickly he finished Season 5's two eating challenges.
    • Uchenna (Season 7) scarfed down the infamous 4 pounds of meat like it was just an everyday meal. Debbie also put it down quickly enough that she almost made up the four hours she and her teammate spent lost driving around.
  • Big Fun: Kevin & Drew (Season 1, but they turned into a couple of grumpy old men during All-Stars)

Kevin: Swing, you fat bastard, swing!

  • Black and Nerdy: Azaria & Hendekea (12) and Justin (19).
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: Exploited and subverted in a Season 3 Fast Forward, where John Vito & Jill are tasked with eating squares out of a giant wheel of cheese, and both quickly become queasy from the massive amounts of cheese they're expected to eat.
    • A task on the Season 14 premiere had teams carry large wheels of cheese down a steep hill. Though it did not look too difficult on the surface, poor balance and the cheese carriers breaking under the slightest provocation led it to being one of the most memorable tasks in race history.
  • Blindfolded Trip: Used in the Family Edition, where teams were put onto a bus to be taken to a mystery location (Huntsville, Alabama), attributing to the Weaver Family's infamous Waffle House breakdown.
    • Season 11 had one where they took the teams to Auschwitz.
  • Book Ends: Season 9 began and ended at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.
  • Boom! Headshot!: Hilariously averted on Season 17 with Claire, who took a watermelon, fired from a ballista at point blank range, to the face, then got up and finished the leg, getting 4th place (out of 11).
  • Brains and Brawn: Toni & Dallas, Season 13. Guess which one lost their passports?
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Though different from the usual kind. The show normally ignores stuff surrounding the production, but Season 19's premiere showed how spoiler hounds tracking racers' progress on Twitter helped Kaylani & Lisa recover their lost passport.
  • Breather Leg: Each of the first four seasons had a non-elimination leg between the final elimination leg and the finale. Since there were no penalties given out to teams saved by the non-elimination, most teams considered this a free leg, and on Season 3, Zach even deliberately threw the second-to-last leg just to appease Flo. The non-elimination leg in the Final 3 returned for Seasons 7 and 9, but with penalties in place for non-eliminated teams, it was no longer a Breather Leg.
    • Though the penultimate leg in Season 17 was technically an elimination leg, the 4th place team had fallen 9 hours behind due to a penalty from the previous leg preventing them from making a flight. This basically made the leg a Breather Leg for the other 3 teams, who could then treat the leg as a free non-elimination leg.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Blake & Paige (2), Tramel & Talicia (3), Azaria & Hendekea (12), Nick & Starr (13), Tammy & Victor (14), and Justin & Jennifer (19).
  • Bowdlerise: Season 4, in most foreign airings there is no mention of Reichen & Chip being "married", plus their kiss at the Finish Line is edited out.
  • Busman's Vocabulary: In Season 19, former NFL player Marcus can always be counted on to pull out a football metaphor.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: Rob & Amber (7 and 11) stated in their Reality News Online interview that they had to look up on the Internet to remember who Susan & Patrick (7) were after receiving a spiteful letter from them during All-Stars. Similarly, Brook & Claire (17) were totally unaware of Katie & Rachel (17) and their grudge against any other all-female team winning. This occurs in general due to teams often being far apart from each other on the race, leaving little room for interaction, especially between teams who made the Final 3 and teams who finished 8th.
  • Buxom Is Better: Most of the male racers on Season 1 didn't pay much attention to Emily until she showed up to the first Pit Stop in her sports bra. All the excited jumping didn't hurt either.
    • Hayden, Season 6, sported notable cleavage throughout the Race, to the point where it was probably her main identifying characteristic.
    • There's a reason that one of the nicknames for Dani & Danielle, Season 9, is "The Double-Ds". Besides the name pun.
  • Call Back: The "Switchback" Roadblock in Season 15, repeating the infamous hay bale task from Season 6, though this time it was placed right next to the pit stop and they made it a non-elimination leg.
    • The "Switchback" Fast Forward in Season 20, repeating the head shaving task from Season 7 (Season 5 was not mentioned).
    • On the Season 4 premiere, Chris called his girlfriend Amanda "Flo" when she started lagging behind, in reference to Flo's constant lagging and complaining in the previous season.
    • A blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment on Season 12, after Ronald & Christina win their first leg, Phil tells them they've both won a catamaran. They both celebrate, with Ronald referencing Charla & Mirna's (Season 11) reaction to the exact same prize by going "We know what that is!".
    • On leg 2 of Season 19, upon getting out of a cab in Indonesia, former NFL tight end Marcus Pollard said that he now knew how Big Easy felt having to ride in tiny vehicles on his two seasons.
    • On the Season 20 premiere, when Bopper refused to pull over in order to let Mark throw up because, "when you got loot on the line like this, you pee your pants if you have to," referencing Jen's potty break back in Season 14.
    • All-Stars and Unfinished Business both had a number of Call Backs to the teams' original seasons, especially during the team introductions:
      • On leg 4 of All-Stars, the Roadblock had racers searching through bags of mail for one of two letters written to them by a team from their original race.
      • One of Justin's shirts on Unfinished Business featured a "Duck Whisperer" graphic, referring to leg 2 of Season 15, when Zev easily corralled his ducks during the Roadblock.
      • Luke wore a shirt in the finale featuring a nickname he had earned on Season 14, that being "The Sinister Deaf Kid".
  • Call It Karma: Some racers, especially in recent seasons, seem to think that winning the race is all about racking up more Karma points than your opponents (Some of the fans aren't much better).
    • Call It Karma teams especially hate the Yield and the U-Turn, and will vilify any team who uses them, regardless of the context. This is despite that, aside from Freddy & Kendra (who both Yielded and were Yielded by Adam & Rebecca on Season 6), only one team has won the race after being Yielded (Eric & Danielle, Season 11), while six have won after using the Yield or U-Turn (Chip & Kim, Season 5, the Linz Family, Season 8, BJ & Tyler, Season 9, Tammy & Victor, Season 14, Nat & Kat, Season 17, and Ernie & Cindy, Season 19).
    • Wil (Season 2) was the first major proponent of Call It Karma, and would mention it every few legs.
    • Ari (Season 12) proudly stated in his intro, "Karma's a bitch, but I'm a bigger bitch," and then, "Karma bit us in the ass," after he and Staella become the first team eliminated thanks to a stubborn donkey.
    • TK & Rachel, Season 12, decried another team for using the U-Turn, citing it was bad Karma. This was done in the post-leg interview, after TK & Rachel had already finished second-to-last on that leg, only beating the U-Turned team.
    • Brian (Season 15) outright stated that he believed winning the Race was about racking up more Karma points than his opponents; as did Dave & Cherie (Season 20).
    • Season 16's Michael actually wore a Karma shirt despite the fact that he and his teammate had U-Turned a team, were constantly badmouthing other teams for their bad attitude, and were generally egotistical to the point of Tempting Fate.
  • The Cameo: Season 1's Kevin & Drew appeared briefly at the beginning of Season 8 to give the teams one of their first clues in New York.
    • Wayne Newton gave the racers their final clue leading them to the finish line in Season 15.
    • Allan Wu, host of Amazing Race Asia, gave the teams a clue in Season 16, and the finale took a trip to Industrial Light & Magic, complete with an appearance from Darth Vader.
    • Bob Eubanks gave the teams their final clue after they completed the game show style Final Puzzle in Season 17.
  • Cassandra Truth: Wil in Season 2. He never missed an opportunity to tell Tara that helping out Chris & Alex was a bad idea, and they should be concentrating on the race instead of helping another team. Though he was ultimately proven right, he was portrayed as a villain since he frequently antagonized most of the people he met.
    • Subverted on Season 20 with Art & JJ. They told everyone that Nary & Jamie were cops, not teachers, in the hope that it would put heat on them and cause the other teams to distrust them. The other teams didn't disbelieve them, they just didn't care because Nary & Jamie were nicer, and proceeded to tell Nary & Jamie exactly what was going on.
  • Catch Phrase: Almost everything Phil says, though in more recent seasons, Phil's stopped using most of his catch phrases (most notably the Detour and Road Block ones, as seen above). He still uses a few, though (The last team to check in *Dramatic Pause* may/will be eliminated).
    • Ian (3 & 11) would yell, "We're comin', Phil," on approach to each Pit Stop. He also had, "Hoorah!"
    • Jet & Cord (16 & 18): "Oh my gravy."
    • Brook's (17) Catch Phrase might as well have been, "Claire! Claire! Come on, Claire!" with as much as she yelled it.
    • Cindy's (19) "Oh my god."
  • Chewing the Scenery: Almost every season has at least a few racers who act completely over the top. This may be due to stress, the cameras, or just their natural personality, but oh boy do we see them.
    • Flo Pesenti and Ian Pollack from Season 3, Jonathan Baker from Season 6, and Rob Mariano from Season 7 are all great examples.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy (15 & 18) at least acted as if this applied to them, as their entire race wardrobe consisted entirely of Globetrotter gear.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Amanda (Season 4) suffered a severe case of road rage on the way to the airport in the premiere, and started cursing out all the other teams. Made funnier by the fact that she was small and cutesy, and looked like a total Gosh Dang It to Heck type during the team introductions.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: By accident (or maybe not), the Final 3 teams on Season 7 all ended up being associated with different color clothing (Uchenna & Joyce: yellow, Rob & Amber: red, Ron & Kelly: light blue). After that, teammates would generally wear same color shirts, if only for the first leg or so. Teams have started referring to each other by the colors of their shirts in the first leg (as teams are not allowed to interact prior to the start of the race), and even calling themselves "The <insert color here> team".
    • Prior to this, teams were denoted by both numbers on their backpacks and different colored bandannas. However, the numbers were rarely, if ever seen, and the bandannas, when worn, were not always in a noticeable position, and often times were even completely discarded by the teams.
  • Continuity Nod: The final puzzle on Season 17 had the teams searching for the pictures of the eleven greeters who had met them at the mat at the end of each leg. In amongst the eleven right pictures were dozens of wrong pictures, which were all greeters from previous seasons of the race.
    • The Season 18 premiere had the teams fly to Sydney, Australia, where the audience was welcomed to Sydney by the Pit Stop greeter from the Race's initial trip to Australia in Season 2. The Establishing Shots for the episode also featured the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, both locations of tasks in Season 2.
    • In Season 20, when the teams competed in a Japanese Game Show Roadblock, the host for the task was the same person who hosted the Japanese Game Show Roadblock all the way back in Season 15.
  • Control Freak: Cindy (19).
  • Cool Old Guy / Cool Old Lady: Many of the "oldster" team members end up being fan favorites, especially Meredith & Gretchen of Season 7, Donald of Season 12, Gary of Seasons 17 and 18, and Bill & Cathi of Season 19.
  • Crazy Prepared: Nat & Kat (17) prepared for the race like they would a professional sporting event, and did research on any sort of fatigue or stress they would put on their mind and body over the course of the race. Once on the course, they took overly detailed notes on every single leg in preparation for the final puzzle that had decided most recent seasons.
    • Cindy (19) as part of her Control Freak nature, made Ernie prepare with her for any possible situation, including studying geography, intensive language courses, and rock climbing.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Nick & Starr (13), Meghan & Cheyne (15), and Rachel & Dave (20) all won more than half the legs in their respective seasons, including rattling off four wins in a row at one point. It didn't hurt that Seasons 13 and 15 both had fairly weak casts, while Season 20 didn't have much beyond Art & JJ.
    • Colin & Christie (5) had a streak of eight legs where they were only out of first place at two points (both following eating tasks in which they were passed by Chip and his bottomless stomach), and they won several legs by over an hour.
  • Cutting the Knot: On Season 11, Danny became frustrated while doing a Roadblock that involved finding and collecting old newspapers from locals in a Malaysian neighborhood, so he just went to a store and bought a bunch of papers to complete the task (though this would cause them further problems later in the race).
  • Daddy's Girl: Mallory (17 & 18) is a text book example of this. Heck, Mallory even stated that she's the youngest, and only girl, of four.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Dan & Jordan on Season 16. They did not get much attention preseason, and because Dan was vocal that he did not want to be on the race, and only came on because it was his brother’s dream, most people dismissed them right away, and they were a favorite to be eliminated on the first leg. They were never one of the strongest teams, nor were they one of the weakest. Their only win came while completing a Fast Forward, thus they mostly spent a lot of time in the middle of the pack, rarely thriving, rarely struggling, and were summarily dismissed by both the fans and the other racers. But when it came time for the final leg, they ran a perfect leg to beat "obvious favorites" Jet & Cord and "villains" Brent & Caite, who had finished 1-2 for the previous two legs.
    • Kisha & Jen on Season 18. When the teams were announced for Unfinished Business, they were not one of the stronger teams that previously made the Final 3, nor were they one of the other notable fan favorites. In fact, most fans mostly remembered them either for Jen's fight with Luke, or Jen getting them eliminated when she stopped for a bathroom break in Season 14's penultimate leg. Though many considered them a good bet for early elimination, they hung around in the background for most of the Race, not creating any waves, while all of the high-profile teams eliminated themselves, and then made their move in the final leg to win it all.
  • Dartboard of Hate: A variation occurred in Season 4, during a Taekwondo Detour in South Korea, Kelly was having trouble breaking her boards, so Jon told her to picture his face on the boards, and his line was even used as the episode title quote.

Jon: That's me. That's my face. Just hit my face. Hit my face!

  • Deadpan Snarker: Season 3 brothers Ken & Gerard were snarky towards practically everyone (especially Ian), but perhaps surprisingly they did so in a playful and non-vindictive way.
    • Also from Season 3, Aaron & Arianne were a much more straightforward example in a very non-playful and vindictive way.
  • Deal with the Devil: According to Danny & Oswald, this is how they saw their selling their Yield to Dustin & Kandice in Season 11 when they found themselves out of money. They seemed to lose all heart and will to win the race after the deal.
  • A Death in the Limelight: This has become a way for fans to determine who will be eliminated at the end of the episode.
    • The most egregious example has to be from Season 15, when the other eight teams were ignored in favor of devoting an entire episode to Zev & Justin. Zev & Justin had more airtime, both on the course and in interviews, than the other eight teams combined.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Zev & Justin seemed to be set up for a run late into the race on Season 15, including a burgeoning rivalry with Maria & Tiffany, that is until they lost a passport.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Completely averted with Jon on Season 4, who did the final Roadblock naked.
  • Delicious Distraction: Ron picked up this trait in Season 18. Several times he lost his concentration, even mid-task, and tried to get his daughter to stop to get food.
  • Description Cut: Has been done several times, typically when one team says something about the placement of another team that turns out to be completely wrong. Examples:
    • Season 1, Episode 5:

Joe & Bill (reaching the Roadblock and seeing nobody else there): The fatties [Kevin & Drew] got lost.
(cut to Kevin & Drew dancing it up at the Pit Stop oasis)

    • A slightly different, but still deliciously ironic, one from Season 2, Episode 11:

Wil: {{[[[No Accounting for Taste]] Tara and I}}] have the best chance of winning, because I got Tara. I got sunshine.
(cut to pouring rain outside)

    • Season 5, Episode 4:

Mirna: It would be nice to have dinner, we're starving.
(cut to Christie and Nicole breaking down as they try to eat 2 lbs. of caviar)

      • A similar cut was done with Susan & Patrick (7) on their way to the 4 lbs. of meat Roadblock.
    • Season 7, Episode 9: The entire first half of the episode played out like this. Rob was feeling so overconfident with Lynn & Alex gone that he asked older couple Gretchen & Meredith if they had gotten on the earlier flight, just to mess with them. Gretchen & Meredith freaked out and went running to Uchenna & Joyce. The two couples borrowed someone's phone, and actually found a flight that would get them in two hours earlier. Rob, after "confirming" there were no faster flights to Istanbul, sat around mocking the "idiot" teams that were already in the air, getting a two-hour jump on him. Even Rob & Amber fans found this episode immensely satisfying to watch.
    • Season 10, Episode 8:

Tyler (at the Fast Forward): No team is going to finish a Detour and a Roadblock ahead of us.
Rob: We're going to be so far ahead.
(cut to Dustin finishing the Roadblock, her and Kandice about to take first place on that leg)

    • From leg 1 of Unfinished Business:

Kris: Amanda will be good at that, she’s good at word puzzles and things.

  • cut to a confused looking Amanda*

Amanda: What? Great, doesn’t make sense.

  • Determinator: Lena, on the hay bale Roadblock on Season 6. She unrolled hay bales for 8 hours, long after all the other teams had come and gone. She unrolled over one hundred bales without finding a clue, and did not stop until Phil came out to the field to eliminate her and her sister. It's the reason Lena & Kristy are so well remembered despite only lasting three legs.
    • Zach Behr, one half of the winning team of Season 3. He basically won the Race by himself, doing all the Roadblocks except for one, and having to deal with and console Flo and her constant nervous breakdowns and convince her not to quit the Race when they were almost through with it.
    • Vanessa (20) performed a running Roadblock with a sprained ankle. Despite Ralph repeatedly telling her to take a penalty, she flat out refused to do so and managed to complete the task.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Poor Zach (3), he didn't get the girl, but at least he still managed to win the Race.
  • Digital Avatar: Used in the Industrial Light & Magic challenge in the Season 16 finale.
  • Dog Walks You: A Season 5 Detour had the teams walking a group of dogs through three checkpoints, it quickly turned into this.

Alison: Mine keep having sex!

  • Doom Magnet: You would not believe just how many tragedies have happened in places that were just featured on the race:
    • Season 1: The series premiere, which left from New York City, aired on September 5, 2001. I don't think I need to explain that one.
    • Season 6: The racers traveled through Sri Lanka only months before it was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
    • Season 8 went through New Orleans a month before Hurricane Katrina hit, which was actually doubly tragic, because the Schroeder family, who were actually from New Orleans, got eliminated there--and then their home was severely damaged a month later (Fortunately, the Rogers family was kind enough to take them in for a while).
    • Season 16 is the race's biggest example: The prize for winning the first leg was a trip to Vancouver, including a skeleton ride at the Whistler Sliding Center. A fairly obvious tie-in with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games... only one of the Olympic athletes died going down that track on the day of the opening ceremony, mere days before the episode aired. Also, that and the next leg went through Chile - aired a week before it was hit with an 8.8 earthquake. Then, after the fourth leg, one contestant (Louie) was put under investigation under suspicion of being involved in a police run cocaine ring in Rhode Island. The next leg was packed with comments from Louie & Michael talking about how their jobs as cops prepared them for the race. Then, leg 10 features He Pingping, the shortest man in the world, only to have him die between the episode filming and airing.
    • Season 18: In a less direct example, Phil's hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by a major earthquake mere hours after the premiere. It then took a more direct turn when the 2011 Japan earthquake hit right after the Tokyo leg aired.
    • Season 20: Shortly after the premiere, one of the show's facilitators (the people who set up the challenges) was poisoned and died in Uganda while working on another show.
  • Down to the Last Play: The Season 2 Finale was decided by a footrace from the cabs to the Finish Line. Wil & Tara made it out of their cabs seconds before Chris & Alex did, but Tara was asthmatic, and the physically fit Chris & Alex ran right past her and won the million dollars.
  • Dramatic Pause: Phil Keoghan does it quite a lot, both in his narration and his appearances at the end of each episode telling contestants whether they're eliminated or not. Teams have actually broken down in giggles in the middle of his pause and told him to just get on with it already (Ken & Gerard, Season 3, and Kisha & Jen, Season 14).
  • Dresses the Same: Deliberately invoked as a joke by Zev & Justin in the Unfinished Business premiere, when they showed up to the starting line wearing Globetrotter gear.
  • Driving Stick: There are times when the contestants are given stick shift cars to drive. Often, neither member of a team knows how to drive stick well. Sometimes it's open for debate whether either one can drive a stick-shift at all. Teams have been eliminated from the race over this.
    • Season 16's Dan & Jordan actually celebrated when they were given a car with an automatic transmission.
    • Kynt & Vyxsin cited this as the biggest thing they worked on before coming back for Unfinished Business, having been undone by it in Season 12.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Season 16 had Steve & Allie crash their front right fender at a curb. When loose parts were making an awful scraping sound while driving, Steve used some Duct Tape (that his wife packed him "just in case") and were able to tape up the loose pieces and motor along to a respectable finish.
  • Dumb Blonde: The producers manage to cast at least one ditzy female in most seasons. They are usually, but not always, blonde.
    • Subverted hard in Season 10, where the suspected dumb blonde team, Dustin & Kandice, a pair of Beauty Queens, ended up being one of the most dangerous teams to ever run the race.
    • Taken to new heights in Season 16, with Jordan Lloyd and Caite Upton.
    • Subverted again in Season 17, with Brook, who, along with brunette Claire, were considered an airhead fodder team pre-race, but finished 2nd overall behind Doctors Nat (who was also blonde) & Kat.
  • Dumb Muscle: Nick & Vicki (Season 17). They made at least one brainless comment every episode and Failed a Spot Check regularly, but if a task was physical, they breezed right through it.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Paolo Family, Season 8.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Season 1 had a couple of features that were changed in later seasons, the most notable being that Phil only showed up at the mat to greet the last team instead of being there to greet every team like he would in every season thereafter. Also, the first episode was edited challenge to challenge, meaning each task was shown to completion before moving onto the next one, making it impossible to tell what order the teams were in, especially since it was the only season not to give team placements over the course of the leg, only showing what position teams were in when they checked into the Pit Stop; the route flags were yellow and white instead of the yellow and red of later seasons (the yellow and white flags would be brought back for Family Edition, and in countries such as Vietnam, that have a yellow and red flag); clue boxes and the Pit Stop mat were not standardized, and changed to reflect each country; and poor course planning resulted in two of the final four teams falling hopelessly behind with no chance of catching up to the two lead teams, something that the producers have taken steps to avoid since then.
    • The first four seasons as a whole had a lot more exposition than later ones, with teams (and Phil) talking about things like rules (both written and unwritten), money usage, travel, and how each little move affected their placement in the Race. Such exposition was cut out in later seasons as that information was expected to be common knowledge among fans by then. Many episodes in those seasons would also start with shots of the teams interacting at the Pit Stop, and Confession Cams were done solo instead of in pairs.
    • Originally, penalties were issued at the beginning of the leg following when they were earned (unless the penalty eliminated the team, then Phil would call the penalized team and the last team to check in into a meeting to tell them the new results). However, after Season 4, the rules were changed so that teams could not check in until all earned penalties had been served.
  • Edible Ammunition: The watermelons teams shot at suits of armor using a giant slingshot in Season 17.
  • Education Mama: Overachiever Cindy (19) apparently came from one of these "Asian Tiger Mom" households, and it shows.
  • El Spanish-O: The contestants are guilty of this every season, especially when they get into Eastern Europe or Asia.

Brandy (Season 16): How many languages have we butchered? ... My high school French is coming back to me, but it really is getting jumbled in my head with Spanish. Frenglish.

    • Mirna (5, 11) became famous for her mangling of the English language, such that her "version" of Spanish was called Mirnish.
    • In Season 8, while asking for directions in Costa Rica, Linda Weaver asked a local "On righto or lefto?"
  • Elimination Montage: Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy got one of these upon getting eliminated from Seasons 15 and 18, as did Michael & Kevin on Season 17, Zev & Justin on Season 18, and Bill & Cathi on Season 19.
    • Joey "Fitness" & Danny were given a straight montage in Season 20, but it was then subverted later in the season with Mark & Bopper on leg 9, where they had fallen so far behind that the other teams had finished the leg while they were still on the first task, who received one running up to the Pit Stop, and even got their second goodbye speach of the season, only to then be told it was a non-elimination leg, only to be played straight with Mark & Bopper when they were eliminated in the very next episode.
  • Emmy Bait: Considering they've won the eight of the nine Emmys given out for "Outstanding Reality-Competition Programming", it's obviously worked.
  • Enemy Mine: Sometimes, a team irritates and/or frightens the other teams so thoroughly that they unite together in their mutual hatred/fear of that team. The most prominent examples of this are Colin & Christie in Season 5 and the Weaver family in Season 8; each one had the other remaining teams practically competing to see who would have the privilege of Yielding them. Dustin & Kandice were scary enough that they had this happen to them twice, the second time against experienced racers in All-Stars.
    • In Season 17, Kat & Nat and Brook & Claire did not care if the other team won, just so that a female team finally won the race.
    • Brendon & Rachel had one against Art & JJ in the Season 20 finale, though Rachel & Dave didn't seem to share the sentiment completely.
  • Epic Fail: Dana & Adrian were eliminated from Season 16 without even completing a single task. While they were the third team to be eliminated without completing a leg, the other two were at legitimate elimination points, whereas Adrian was foiled by a Roadblock.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Averted by Joe & Heidi (16), who were then eliminated.
  • Everything's Better with Chocolate: Subverted in Season 5, where a Roadblock forced teams to bite through 11,000 chocolates looking for one with a white center (of which there were only 20). The racers quickly got tired of the chocolate overload.
  • Everything's Better with Llamas: Detours in Seasons 7 and 16. Seasons 1, 5, and 12 also had camels, but those just weren't as fun. Later seasons even include a shot of a llama in the opening.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Season 17 had two fake bears, one on a dogsled course, one in a circus.
  • Evil Gloating: Rob, on every episode he was on, on both Seasons 7 and 11.
    • Caite in Season 16 obviously qualifies after having an axe to grind against Carol & Brandy since the start of the race, due to an insult she heard, not from the "mean lesbians" themselves, but second-hand through Louie & Michael. She finally got her chance to strike back by successfully U-Turning them, leading to their elimination. She gloated to the other teams at the airport in the very next leg as they waited to board their plane to Shanghai. It was from this point on that she was portrayed as the villain.
  • Evil Laugh: Manipulative Editing will give this to any "villain" team, though Rob's (7 & 11) at least appeared to be real.

United States Version F-M

  • Failed a Spot Check: Guaranteed to happen multiple times in every season.
    • Jet & Cord had one in the finale of Season 16 that ultimately cost them the race. The Industrial Light & Magic task involved one teammate walking through a virtual reality world, following instructions from their teammate (similar to the game Knightmare, though much easier). At the end of the task, the instructor was given their next clue on the computer screen, but it was swirling in circles. To get the clue, the other team member had to spin in circles, thereby making the words stay still on the screen. Jet & Cord failed to figure this out for the longest time despite Jet's path during the challenge being blocked by a spinning Jordan. Cord did not notice either, as he was too busy taunting Dan.
    • Season 3, Episode 5: Four of the eight remaining teams fail to notice the sign on the inside of the gas cap door indicating that the cars they are driving take diesel, and fill up with regular gasoline instead.
    • Season 4, Episode 3: Teams were required to claim a horse-drawn carriage by pulling the pass off the door handle. Kelly & Jon and Reichen & Chip got in the carriages without pulling the passes, only to have another team, who read the clue, pull the pass off the door handle and kick them out of the carriage. Kelly & Jon failed to notice even though Reichen & Chip were making a big fuss about it two carriages back from them.
    • David & Jeff from Season 4, despite actually being fairly competent overall, had several moments of this that the editors just loved to draw attention to (and let's face it: when you end up as the only team other than Bill & Joe who were still in Hawaii when the other two teams crossed the Finish Line, people are not exactly inclined to remember you as a paragon of competence). The most memorable instance of this was in Episode 9, when they drove right past where the Detour clue was located and had to repeatedly ask Jon & Al where it was, even as the camera guys helpfully showed that the clue was located within sight of their vehicle.
    • In the Season 9 premiere, Fran & Barry repeatedly walked right by the clue box, though their cameraman pointed it out for the audience every single time.
    • Season 17, Episode 3: Almost every single team who chose the option of decoding phrases into symbols for the Detour couldn't find the decoder key located on a wall just around the corner from where they were (the sole exception being Connor & Jonathan, who completed it before the others showed up). All of them ultimately opted for the second Detour option, and the cameras kept on showing them running right past the decoder key - if they had just glanced behind them, they would have seen it.
    • Season 17, Episode 7: Every single team had trouble spotting a colorful figurine of a building in an otherwise drab colored tower they were scanning the skyline from. In fairness, the figurine was placed behind the racers, in the exact opposite direction of the skyline.
    • Exploited in Season 19, Episode 2, when one task included a sign of additional directions that weren't in the clue. Eight of the eleven teams missed it and had to backtrack, causing the three who did notice to jump as many as seven places to the top of the standings.
    • Vanessa & Ralph (20) took several minutes to find a clue in a rug shop despite said clue being perched in plain sight on top of a rug.
  • Fake Balance: The first nine seasons favored physically strong teams (the first four seasons especially so). It was exceedingly simple for fit teams to power their way through the race, waiting for fatigue to take out the smarter teams. However, since then the game has tilted more and more towards favoring intelligent teams, as (1) teams have learned that cardio is far more useful than brute strength, and started preparing accordingly, (2) while physical teams can still dominate and string wins together at the beginning of a season, they are put at a huge disadvantage late in the season when the puzzles and mental tasks get harder, while the strength tasks remain relatively the same, and (3) budgetary cuts at the beginning of Season 12 (see Screwed by the Network under the Trivia tab) forced production to shorten the race by two legs and a whole week of filming time. Though the twelfth leg would be added back in Season 14, the actual length of the race has remained around three weeks (as opposed to the month it took for the first eleven seasons), meaning the fatigue the teams are working under in the final leg is much less than it used to be.
    • Since Season 12, only three physically inclined team have won the race (Meghan & Cheyne, Season 15, Kisha & Jen, Season 18, and Rachel & Dave, Season 20), and they all had the advantage of having all the mentally inclined teams getting eliminated prior to the finale, nor did any of them have to face the big puzzle that's normally found in the final leg.
  • Fan Disservice: Not just for the fans in Season 20, as one Detour had the teams scrub oil off of hairy, nearly naked men.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Notably subverted on Season 20 with Mark & Bopper. In Episode 4, Bopper starts the leg by talking about his sick daughter back home, throwing up huge red flags that this is their Death in The Limelight episode. Through the rest of the leg, the trope appears to be being played straight, as they make a mistake that puts them on a flight an hour behind the other teams, and only see another team at one point. They roll into the Pit Stop last, give their final speeches to Phil, even have Art & JJ give them half of their prize money for the leg... only then to have Phil tell them it's a non-elimination leg (the longest he's ever drawn that announcement out).
  • Fatal Flaw: For Colin (5) it was his ego, and Chip & Kim were able to exploit this to throw him off his game and steal victory away from what was, at the time, the most dominant racer the show had seen.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Host Phil Keoghan, usually in the midst of a Dramatic Pause. It's become so iconic, it almost could be considered his Signature Move, and teams such as David & Mary (Season 10), Kisha & Jen (14), and Carol & Brandy (16) have come to the mat in anticipation of the eyebrow. He even used his eyebrow pops alone to tell one team in Season 17 that they were team number 2.
  • Faux Action Girl: Most of the athletic female teams come off as this, especially when you consider that Kisha & Jen are the only ones to make the Top 4, which they did twice (Seasons 14 & 18). Generally, the strong physical female teams tend to get eliminated earlier than the ones who rely more on their intelligence.
  • Fiery Redhead: Jaime, Seasons 14 & 18, to the point where her own teammate (also a redhead) was wary of setting her off.
    • Kelly from Season 4 was also one of these.
  • Foiler Footage: The 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams generally keep racing, even after their elimination, in order to thwart spoilers. This has not always been successful.
  • Foreshadowing: Done both subtly and not-so subtly. There are times when you can tell a team is going to be eliminated just by what they say at the beginning of the leg, while there are other lines that take on a lot more meaning once you've seen the end of the season.
    • One example of the subtle variety came from leg 2 of All-Stars, where, upon leaving the Detour at the same time as Eric & Danielle, Rob said that even on Eric's best day, he had no chance of beating them.
    • Mallory, at the end of Season 17, after the winner had already been decided, and all that was left to do was take the final cast picture, gave this line right before the trailer for "Unfinished Business" was shown:

Mallory: I've had some of the best times, I think, that I've ever had with my dad... I just feel so lucky. Can we do it again?

  • Fun with Subtitles: In episode 2 of Season 20, Nary & Jamie explain that they're hiding their real jobs as federal agents and telling the other teams that they're teachers instead. At this, the "Federal Agents" caption is crossed out and "Schoolteachers" is added in next to it.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: A knee injury hampered Steve & Dave (4) from running at all, so they never really had a chance after leg 1.
    • After Season 18, it came out that Kynt cracked his rib and sprained his ankle while falling of a ladder during a Roadblock in leg 5, yet hid the injury from the production staff for fear that they would get eliminated due to the injury. He ran the rest of the Race before getting medical treatment, which caused him to suffer greatly on any tasks that required physical exertion.
    • Bopper (20) wrenched his knee in leg 7, forcing him to wear a knee brace for the rest of the race, and preventing him from participating in the dance Roadblock that would eventually cause his and Mark's elimination.
    • Vanessa (20) sprained her ankle on leg 10. In leg 11, because Ralph had already used all his Roadblocks, Vanessa was forced to do it, and it involved running.
  • Gender Blender Name: Season 16 featured both a male and a female racer named Jordan.
    • Season 7 featured a grandfather named Meredith, which got him the nickname Grandpa Girlname on Television Without Pity. Some of the teams got this mixed up as well, leading to mistakes such as "Meredith and her husband..."
    • Kris was the name of both a female racer in Season 6 and a male racer in Seasons 14 and 18. To make things even twistier, the latter team (Amanda & Kris) is widely considered to be an Expy of the former team (Kris & Jon).
  • Genki Girl: Brook (17) and Mallory (17 & 18).
  • Genre Savvy: Before appearing on Season 7, Rob & Amber studied the top teams from the first 5 seasons (Season 6 had not aired yet) and copied their tactics. This is common now, at least if you want to be successful, but back then they were the first team to prepare so thoroughly.
    • The teams on the Season 14 finale spent their final plane ride reviewing the previous legs to prepare for the Final Exam Boss puzzle that had been used in the previous two seasons. From that point on, taking notes on every leg became a common strategy.
    • Jordan played a textbook perfect final leg on Season 16, using strategies and knowledge he got from watching the previous seasons, to upset the much stronger Jet & Cord.
    • On leg 5 of Season 19, when given a clue to disassemble a spirit house and take it with them, five of the eight teams took notes on the positioning of the pieces of the house in case they have to put it back together later, and the other three had team members who at least suggested it (unfortunately, in one of those cases, the team just decided to take mental notes, and in the other two the team member making the suggestion was rebuffed, and all three doing the Road Block had to go back and look at another spirit house).
  • Gentle Giant: Big Easy (15 & 18) is easily the biggest contestant the show has ever had (to the point where his size is often a disadvantage), yet he was also one of the nicest.
    • In Season 15, he was indirectly prohibited from participating in one of the race tasks because of his height (the task required one of the racers to get on an amusement park ride that the 6'9" basketball player was much too tall for).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: On Season 19, Ernie & Cindy said that they had been to Bangkok recently, but it wouldn't be an advantage as they wouldn't be able to find anything... except ladyboys.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Discussed by Nary & Jamie on Season 20 while building a shower.
  • Granola Girl / Guy: BJ & Tyler (9) and TK & Rachel (12).
  • Global Ignorance: Oh, you bet this crops up. Occasionally the producers make a task based on it.
    • Despite being constantly reminded that they were going to Chile, Season 16's Jordan (the female one) proceeded to request tickets to Santiago, China.
    • Season 12:

Nate: Jenn and I know absolutely nothing about Taiwan, except... we think Thai food's pretty good.

    • Season 17:

Phil: Nick & Vicki, what's the name of this country?
Vicki: We're in London, right?
Phil: That's right, the country of London.

    • Also in Season 17: The teams were visiting a school in Ghana and tasked with identifying Ghana on a map. It went about as well as you would expect.
    • In Season 20, Mark was excited about going to the tropical country of Italy.
    • Also in Season 20, Rachel asked when they were going to get to the German state of Bolivia (they were in Bavaria), the editors played with it by replacing the German Regional Riff with a South American one.
  • The Glomp: Coal dust covered Danny & Oswald attempted to do this to Phil on Season 11, but Phil fled from them to prevent this.
    • Claire did this to Phil on leg 8 of Season 17 when she and Brook found out they were 4th, not last. Likewise, Brook did this to the Chinese Chef when Claire finally completed the Fake Food Roadblock in Hong Kong.
    • Art (20) did this to Phil when him and JJ advanced to the Final Three.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Season 2, Tara & Wil and Chris & Alex constantly ragged on Blake for being an idiot, despite this, he made several brilliant strategic moves, including being the first team to beg for money, getting his bags on a flight when all the other teams had to check theirs, and getting preferred parking on a ferry, most of which were decried by the above teams as "cheating".
    • Part of Rob getting Uchenna & Joyce and Gretchen & Meredith on a faster flight in Season 7 (See Description Cut) was him talking about how Uchenna & Joyce couldn't do anything for themselves.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: Lake (Season 9) became infamous for this due to his tendency to react to anything going wrong with a hearty "Dagnabit!" Nate & Jen (Season 12) also used "Gosh!" and "Fudge!" a lot. Good Southern Christian boys Jet & Cord (Seasons 16 & 18) also used swears like "Daggummit!" and "Gosh darnit!"
    • It's rumored that the reason for Nate & Jen's uncharacteristically mild cursing is that they were spoken to by producers after an early leg and told that if they didn't stop swearing so much, there would be no usable footage of them.
    • Marcus (19) would utter a very loud "SHOOT" when him and Amani were stuck during the race.
    • Vanessa & Ralph (20) favored "cheese and crackers" as their exclamation of choice.
  • Ha Ha Ha No: The man holding the clues at the Estates Theater in Season 15 did this when a team gave him the incorrect item.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Manipulative Editing and the stressful nature of the race will make it seem like several racers a season have one of these, but Jaime (14) above all others was infamous for going from calm to a rampaging monster at the drop of a hat (Though this was lessened on Unfinished Business).
  • Half Truth: Discussed by Marcus in the Season 19 premiere when talking about keeping that he had been a professional football player a secret. Technically, as a tight end, it was his job to protect the quarterback, so it was not lying to say he was in "protection," and as he was retired at that point, if asked if he was a football player, it was technically correct if he said no.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Frat boys Eric & Jeremy of Season 9 spent roughly 90% of their screen time talking about how much they liked girls. Seriously, you could probably make a drinking game out of it. In fact, fellow All-Stars racers Joe & Bill and Danny & Oswald knew Eric used to dance in gay bars.
  • Hide Your Gays: Despite the Race including at least one openly gay racer in most seasons, there are still racers that they never mention are gay, such as Luke (14 & 18), Kisha (14 & 18), Aaron (3), and Ari (13), though in Ari's case it was probably never divulged because he was eliminated in the first leg, as his sexual orientation was openly discussed in the Elimination Station videos.
  • High School Sweethearts: a big part of Meghan & Cheyne's (15) story.
    • Bill had this exchange with Cindy, about him and Cathi, on Season 19:

Bill: She was 12 and I was 13, and we met in middle school.
Cindy: Aw, so cute.
Bill: Went together for 8 years and got married on the day of graduation from college.
Cindy: Wow, we just met in a bar.
Bill: Well that's okay too.
Cindy: Over a shotski.

  • History Repeats: Both All-Stars and Unfinished Business had teams get eliminated (or just in bad situations) in the exact same way they did on their original season:
    • John Vito & Jill (3 & 11) got lost prior to their elimination.
    • Joe & Bill (1 & 11) fell over twelve hours behind the lead teams.
    • Dustin & Kandice (10 & 11), through a combination of their racing skills and their non-social attitudes, had the other teams obsessed with their elimination.
    • Amanda & Kris (14 & 18) were U-Turned into elimination.
    • Kynt & Vyxsin (12 & 18) got tragically lost, got into a fight, and ended up issued with a penalty in a non-elimination leg (though the second time was due to them missing the pre-arranged flight).
    • Margie & Luke (14 & 18) lost the race when Luke fell apart on a Roadblock.
  • Ho Yay: Greg got a bit overexcited over the apparent "closeness" Debbie & Bianca exhibited at LAX on the Season 7 premiere.
    • Jamie, Season 20, on her and Nary setting up a camp shower:

"This is what a lot of guys at work have been wanting, is Nary and I in the shower together. Well, they got it, but we ain't looking so hot right now."

  • Holier Than Thou: The Weaver Family, Season 8. They believed they were the only team who deserved to win because they were the only good people on the Race. Everyone else, on the other hand, found them insufferable and were pulling for any team but them to win - including the other teams to such an extent that by the final leg, the other two remaining teams (the Linzes and the Bransens) were united in the agreement that they wouldn't mind if the other team won, as long as it meant that the Weavers wouldn't win.
    • Charla & Mirna (5 & 11) were a less severe case of this, but that still didn't stop them from condemning the other teams for being untrustworthy and back-stabbing them. Season 5 even saw Mirna rant that all the other teams were jealous of them. Their "feud" with Dustin & Kandice (11) was full of this.
  • Hollywood Atlas: A lot of the challenges are stereotypical of the current location. (eating caviar in Russia, climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, throwing a boomerang in Australia, selling beer in Germany, etc.)
    • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted in Season 16; a leg in France had WWI-themed tasks and described the bravery of the French soldiers against Germany.
    • Viva Las Vegas: Season 15's finale took place in Vegas. It involved traveling from casino to casino, an Elvis impersonator in a wedding chapel, a visit to Cirque de Soleil, Wayne Newton, and counting out a million dollars in poker chips. The season also featured Maria & Tiffany, a pair of professional poker players (however, they were eliminated before the finale).
  • Holy Backlight: In Season 5, used on, of all things, an airport departures board when Brandon & Nicole were talking about their faith. To underline the effect, they also added a sound effect of a heavenly choir. On the next leg, the same sound effect was used, along with a shot of a line of white-robed nuns descending an escalator, when Brandon & Nicole were able to secure seats on an earlier flight that hadn't been available the day before.
  • Honor Before Reason: In Season 2, Tara chose to put her alliance with Chris & Alex over the Race, and even over her own teammate, and it eventually cost them the Race.
    • Erwin & Godwin (a.k.a. the Cho Bros, from Season 10) formed the infamous Six-Pack alliance with David & Mary and Lyn & Karlyn (two teams most perceived as fodder). They then proceeded to sit around at tasks, after they were already done, waiting for the other teams in their alliance. Even their own alliance members thought this was stupid.
    • The formerly engaged team of Dennis & Erika (Season 5) became the first team out when Dennis, who wanted to prove that he wasn't a "scumbag" after another team called him that earlier in the leg, let all the other teams get cabs before him and Erika. He did get a Consolation Prize, however (other than the trip given to them by Colin & Christie after the race), in that this act appeared to re-spark his relationship with Erika.
  • Hospital Hottie: Doctors Nat & Kat (17).
  • Hot-Blooded: Jonathan (6) did everything with insane intensity, including bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet during Phil's entire intro speech.
  • Hypocrite: In Season 20, both Vanessa and Rachel (of Brendon & Rachel) made blatantly insulting comments at each other both behind their backs and to their faces. Vanessa would later go on to say she wanted to set an example for her kids, while Rachel seemed oblivious to having done the exact same thing on Big Brother.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Both Chad and Nick made a number of comments over the course of Season 17 about how they felt of the possibility of losing to either Nat & Kat or Brook & Clair. Thomas, who finished third behind the two female teams in the finale, averted this, as he admitted that the female teams were the two best teams.
    • Flight Time & Big Easy begrudgingly acknowledged Kisha & Jen's racing skills in the Season 18 finale, though their hyper-competitiveness meant they probably would have had this reaction to any team beating them.
    • Chip (Season 5) usually groaned "The moms freakin' beat us" whenever the Bowling Moms finished a task or leg ahead of them.
    • Joey "Fitness" & Danny (Season 20) didn't take it well when they lost a hay bale stacking Fast Forward to Rachel (to the point where it did seem to matter to them that, Dave, a combat pilot, was also working against them).
    • Rachel Reilly (Season 20's other Rachel) later gloated over how much it was killing Art & JJ that she beat them at a cricket Detour.
  • Iconic Item: Rob's Red Sox hat (Seasons 7 & 11) and Jet & Cord's cowboy hats (16 & 18).
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Season 2 onwards; it's usually a line overheard on that leg of the race.
  • Idiot Ball: Erwin & Godwin, despite both having grad degrees, picked up and ran with the Idiot Ball for most of Season 10. First they brought squirt guns into the Seattle airport post-9/11, brought along a fake cell phone to prank the other teams into believing they were booking flight during a train ride inspiring the other teams to do the same thing with real cell phones, and then sat around at tasks after they were done, waiting for the other teams in their Six-Pack alliance.
  • If You Can Read This...: The final challenge of Season 16 required the teams to place psychedelic posters of the eliminated teams in the order of their elimination. They also had to place three posters representing the three non-elimination legs. These posters featured host Phil Keoghan's complete Opening Narration that was played along with the show's opening theme in Season 1.
  • Important Haircut/Bald Women: Joyce shaving her head for the Fast Forward in Season 7, which was the point at which Uchenna & Joyce stepped out of the background and became serious contenders.
  • In-Series Nickname: Some team nicknames become so prominent, that they're used in place of the team's actual names by the other racers. This includes The Guidos (Bill & Joe, Seasons 1 & 11), The Clowns (Jon & Al, Season 4), Mirna & Schmirna (Charla & Mirna, Seasons 5 & 11), The Hippies (BJ & Tyler, Season 9), The Beauty Queens (Dustin & Kandice, Seasons 10 & 11), The Goths (Kynt & Vyxsin, Seasons 12 & 18), Dandrew (Dan & Andrew, Season 13), and The Cowboys (Jet & Cord, Seasons 16 & 18). Two different teams (David & Mary, Seasons 10 & 11, and Mark & Bopper, Season 20) have been called "Kentucky".
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Mel (Seasons 14 & 18) liked to pull these out:

Mike: Do you speak any Thai, dad?
Mel: Yeah, um, Mai Tai.

Mel: That was a pun.

Mike: I know.

  • Informed Ability: Every season teams talk up their abilities before the race starts, only to fall flat on their faces once they're on the course.
    • The worst offender is probably Lance (Season 15), who was a lawyer, yet showed none of the brains that he claimed to have pre-race. It was even Lampshaded by Maria & Tiffany in the second leg.
  • Insistent Terminology: A deleted scene from Season 18 showed that Jet is very insistent on referring to their fanny pack as a "satchel".
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: A favorite form of Stunt Casting for the producers, but they usually overwork this angle, driving it into the ground. Includes a woman with dwarfism (Charla, Seasons 5 & 11), a woman with one leg (Sarah, Season 10), a deaf man (Luke, Seasons 14 & 18), and a man with Asperger's syndrome (Zev, Seasons 15 & 18).
    • Averted in Season 17; Nat is a Type 1 diabetic but the subject rarely came up. Similarly averted when Luke and Zev returned in Unfinished Business.
    • In Luke's case, his deafness was hyped to the point of completely overshadowing his sexuality during Season 14, a rarity for this show.
  • Instant Win Condition: Even though it's not true, teams tend to see the Fast Forward as this (five times a team(s) has won the Fast Forward and failed to finish first; Dennis & Andrew (3) and Mark & Bopper (20) were so far behind when they took it, they still lost the leg). Subverted in Season 1 with Joe & Bill, when, after winning the Fast Forward, they decided to save money and take the bus instead of finding an alternate route to traverse the over 100 miles to the Pit Stop, solely because they thought there was no way the other teams could catch them. The next morning they rolled into the Pit Stop in last place, only to be saved by another team's even worse mistake.
  • Insufferable Genius: Azaria (12) and Victor (14).
  • Insult Backfire: After discovering that Dustin & Kandice had used their Yield power in both Seasons 10 and 11, Charla & Mirna decided to nickname them the "Yield Queens". A few episodes later, Dustin & Kandice bought Danny & Oswald's Yield to keep it from being used on them, and were the only team not upset by the whole exchange.

Kandice: We now officially are the Yield Queens. We just bought a Yield.

  • Invincible Hero: Though half the seasons have a dominant team played up as being near invincible, these teams are rarely framed as the "hero", and on top of that is that these teams only remain invincible up until the finale, as on the Race it seems that Underdogs Never Lose. However, there are a few times they have tried this:
    • Meghan & Cheyne (15) were played as this, though most fans didn't buy into the "hero" part.
    • Season 19's Andy & Tommy were a subversion. Though they did win six of the first ten legs prior to their elimination, and though their dominance was constantly talked about, so was the fact that they were insanely lucky, and that half of their wins were due to the team(s) in front of them incurring penalties.
  • Invincible Incompetent: Dan & Andrew were played as this more and more as Season 13 played out. The other teams openly mocked them, the editors portrayed them as fools, even Phil told them that he thought they should be the next team eliminated, something he's never done to any other team. Joel McHale even got into it on The Soup, listing the basic everyday tasks Dandrew screwed up, including getting dressed and walking. Despite all this, they made it to the Final 3.
  • Ironic Nickname: Team Guido (Bill & Joe, Season 1) was a pair of middle-aged, cultured gay men, who nicknamed themselves after their dog.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Ian's wife Teri (Seasons 3 and 11) insisted on pronouncing his name "Eye-an", despite everyone else (including him) pronouncing it the usual way. This is because that's how his mother intended for his name to be pronounced, and how he was introduced to Teri.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time: The producers said this about the Family Edition.
  • It's the Principle of the Thing: During Season 5, Colin became furious at a cab driver in Tanzania for making them lose their lead by driving on a spare tire and having a blowout. He refused to pay the full $100 fare, instead offering only $50. Despite the urging of Christie, the other teams, and the airport staff to pay the fare, he continued to refuse, getting the police involved, and coming perilously close to becoming the first contestant to be arrested during the race. He finally paid the fare just because he didn't want to miss his flight.
  • Just Friends: Zach & Flo, Season 3.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Inexplicably, what happened to Rob & Amber at the end of Season 7. In the finale, after dominating most of the season, albeit in a Magnificent Bastard sort of way, the two of them were sitting alone on the plane to the Final Destination City, the race pretty much in hand... until Uchenna & Joyce begged their way onto the plane, despite the gate already being closed and the pilot already having pulled away. Uchenna & Joyce ended up winning despite running out of money and having to beg to pay their cab driver at the Finish Line, as Rob & Amber got lost looking for the final clue in Little Havana. The comeback was so improbable (especially with Uchenna & Joyce getting all their money and possessions taken away for losing the previous leg) that it had some fans claiming the whole thing was staged (of course, this rumor was started by a bitter Rob).
    • It happened to them again on All-Stars. Even before winning the first three legs, Rob's ego was flying as high as ever, and he was already declaring them the winners. Then every single thing went wrong for them on leg four, and Rob had to watch as Charla & Mirna made up a twenty minute deficit to pass them at the Roadblock.
  • Laughing Mad: Season 8, during a mystery bus trip on the third leg, through a combination of exhaustion and frustration, Rebecca Weaver absolutely lost it as she recounted their day. When the bus stopped for them to eat at a Waffle House, she started dancing in the parking lot with her mother while all the other teams looked on in shock. Then they got on the bus and the whole family joined in as she started singing. You know things are bad when the 10-year-old looks afraid for his life.
  • Leitmotif: Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy (Season 15) got the Globetrotter theme "Sweet Georgia Brown" and cowboys Jet & Cord (Season 16) had generic Western movie music. Then they both returned for Season 18...
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Teri & Ian were best described as fodder through the first half of Season 3, but found their stride with the Fast Forward in leg 6, and even won the last two legs leading up to the finale outright.
    • Dan & Jordan were an afterthought up until the Season 16 finale, where Jordan's Race knowledge became a Chekhov's Skill that allowed them to dominate the final leg.
  • Lingerie Scene: In Season 14, a roadblock required one team member to run through the streets of a Russian city in their underwear. In winter. And, in Christie's case, in a thong.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Terri & Ian (Season 3) are a married couple who've been together over twenty years and fit this trope like a glove.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Certain teams have become associated with certain garments, such as Linda & Karen's "Bowling Moms" shirts from Season 5.
    • Certain unfortunate wardrobe choices, amplified by the Limited Wardrobe, can lead to some very "memorable" outfits, such as Teri & Ian's disposable underpants (Season 3), or the Holy Trinity of ugly pants, Kelly's khakis on Season 7, Rachel's skintight gray pants on Season 12, and the multicolored nightmare worn by BJ (or Tyler) after losing all their clothes (and borrowing some from Yolanda) on Season 9.
  • Loners Are Freaks:
    • Played straight with the likes of Joe & Bill (1) and Teri & Ian (3), who were very noticeably separate from the alliances forming around them, were disliked by the other teams, nor were they very popular with the fans (though both were invited back for All-Stars, where they were more sociable).
    • Subverted with Blake & Paige (2), Danny & Oswald (2, but not 11), and Dustin & Kandice (10 and 11), who generally kept to themselves and were disliked by the other teams, but were popular with the fans.
    • Averted with Jet & Cord (16 and 18), who kept to themselves, but were liked by both the fans and the other teams. Being Cowboys probably helped.
  • Loophole Abuse: It was common to see teams such as Rob & Amber (7 & 11) and Charla & Mirna (5 & 11) convince locals to go along with them on legs, helping them navigate past the other teams. Luckily this loophole was closed after All-Stars.
  • Love Triangle: Wil/Tara/Alex (Season 2) Wil and Tara were married but separated, but Tara still started flirting with Alex.
    • Zach/Flo/Drew on Season 3. Zach and Flo were friends seeing if they could be more, but Flo fell for Drew instead.
  • Malaproper: Brent (Season 16) made such mistakes as using "anonymous" instead of "unanimous", and "barrier" instead of "bearing".
    • Jill (Season 17) not only was a malaproper, but she tended to mispronounce words as well.
    • In the Season 20 premiere, the teams are tasked with making empanadas:

Bopper: This is the first time I have ever made a pinata.
Mark: It ain't a pinata, my brotha, it's a empi-za- Well, you call it whatever you want. I don't know neither.

  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Millie & Chuck (Season 4), had dated for 12 years but said they never consummated. This was apparently notable enough that where most teams are labled "Dating", "Married", "Best Friends" or the like, the show labeled these two "The Virgins".
  • Manipulative Editing: Bill & Joe, (Season 1) have repeatedly said the same thing: The camera does not create footage. If it's on the film, it's because you said or did it. The editing, however, can add, delete, or change the context.
    • The bottom two teams in any given leg are always made to look as if they're neck and neck, no matter how far apart they really are. The one exception is in the finales, where instead it's the top two teams (or all three, in the cases of Seasons 11 and 14). Seasons 7 and 16 were especially bad, as the top two teams finished 45 and 25 minutes apart (respectively). The only exception to this was Season 1, where it was impossible to do due to the first two teams ending up on separate train rides to the finish line (and the third team still being in Alaska).
    • Several teams on All-Stars seemed very aware of this, as teams were very cordial towards the beginning of the race (except for teams like Rob & Amber and Dustin & Kandice, who just didn't care, and Mirna, who was so self-righteous she didn't realize how she was coming off). Most teams seemed to forget about this very quickly, however.
  • Manly Gay: Reichen & Chip (Season 4)
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Adam & Rebecca, Season 6. It didn't start out this way, but by the end Rebecca was referring to him as her "girlfriend".
  • The Maze: The Season 5 finale.
  • Meditating Under a Waterfall: A Season 18 Detour featured this.
  • Metagame: Traces of it developing can be seen in Seasons 1-7, though it does not come into full effect until Season 10. It had two major effects on the game, first, shifting it from a game dominated by young, fit teams (especially "alpha male" teams) and those with extensive travel experience, to a game dominated by intelligent teams. Second, it gave teams who would have had no shot on early seasons (like Ronald & Christina, who were weak at physical tasks) a legitimate chance to win.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: This was one of the complaints that Tara had about Wil in Season 2, as he tended to blow up everything to epic proportions.
  • Miracle Rally: In leg 10 of Season 14, Jaime & Cara, despite winning the first half of the Super Leg, got lost twice looking for clues on the second half of the leg, almost guaranteeing their elimination. Kisha & Jen got lost themselves, and got U-Turned, but still went into the Roadblock with a huge lead on the cheerleaders. Things looked over until Jen struggled with the Foreign Queasine Roadblock, then had herself a Potty Emergency. Meanwhile, Jaime & Cara got an amazing cab driver, Cara blazed through the Roadblock, and they managed to steal the last spot in the Final 3 while Jen was in the bathroom.
    • Kelly & Jon started leg 9 of Season 4 in last place, missed the "operating hours" equalizer that evened out all the other teams, got majorly lost while trying to find the first clue, and tried to opt for the Fast Forward only to have to drive all the way back to the Detour location due to Chip & Reichen already having taken it. However, a sleep-deprived Chuck & Millie became so lost that Kelly & Jon ended up arriving at the Roadblock the exact same time as them, managed to complete the Roadblock just barely ahead of them, and beat them in a footrace to the Pit Stop.
    • Uchenna & Joyce's karmically fueled comeback in the Season 7 finale, which they did despite having no money to start the leg.
      • Speaking of Season 7, Debbie & Bianca came close, but ultimately failed, in leg 3. They got lost early in the leg, drove two hours in the wrong direction, and then had to drive two more to get back on course. Still, when they got to the four pounds of meat Roadblock, there were still four teams sitting there (three having already quit the challenge, while the fourth was contemplating it). Debbie scarfed down her four pounds of meat (and received the only compliment Rob gave out on the entire season), yet they were ultimately eliminated by a matter of minutes.
      • Yet another example from Season 7: Brian & Greg looked done for in leg 5 after their jeep overturned and left them stranded and their cameraman injured, but Ray & Deana spent so long on the Detour that they were still there when the brothers finally arrived. Brian & Greg wisely went with the Detour choice Ray & Deana weren't bogged down in, completed it quickly enough to leave right on Ray & Deana's tail, and beat them in a footrace to the mat.
  • Mistaken for Gay: During one Season 20 Detour, the judge asked Mark & Bopper if they were engaged.
  • Mood Dissonance: On Season 3's final elimination leg, "wonder twins" Derek & Drew miss the clue box, and, in their confusion, end up making their way to the Pit Stop. The final scene had sad music playing, Derek & Drew being confused and distraught at their eminent elimination, Flo upset because she caused the elimination of her future boyfriend by telling Ken & Gerard where the clue was, and Ken & Gerard grim but resolute in their decision to ditch the twins in order to save themselves, and, in contrast to all that, Zach laughing away at the twins' mistake, happy to finally be rid of Drew.
  • Motor Mouth: Brook (17), at one point she talked through an entire boxing Roadblock.
    • Mallory, also on Season 17, was this to a lesser extent, but it really ramped up on Unfinished Business. At the end of the first leg, Phil had to tell her to stop talking because they were still racing.
  • The Munchausen: Don, Season 12, was a 68-year-old man who had, apparently, done everything before. Masonry, mining, fish-gutting, everything. It got to the point where other racers were cautioning each other to hurry up, "because God knows Don's probably done this before and will be done in five seconds." Nearly invariably, he had and he was. In the finale, they even ran a montage recapping all of Don's jobs.
    • Brook, Season 17, according to her teammate Claire, as stated when they were choosing between two Detour choices in Seoul. Apparently, in addition to marathon running, rock climbing, and boxing, Brook was also an accomplished ice skater.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: At the beginning of each season, it's the biggest and strongest teams that are generally the most feared, and who are usually picked to win by the fans. Though justified in the first four seasons, where physical strength was only challenged by those with travel knowledge, in later seasons it's much more likely for an "Alpha Male" team to eliminate themselves with a stupid mistake than to dominate a season.
    • Expect multiple teams to be far too worried about who they could or couldn't beat in a footrace, especially when it comes to the finale. This is despite the finale having only come down to a footrace once (Season 2), and almost every Season since 7 having been decided by the final puzzle. Tammy & Victor (Season 14) even U-Turned Kisha & Jen mainly on the reasoning that they couldn't beat the girls in a footrace (and even wrote "Sorry, but we can't beat you in a footrace" on their picture), even though Margie & Luke were the much bigger threat (only Luke pulling one of the biggest choke jobs in race history in the finale keeping them from beating Tammy & Victor).
    • Derek & Drew serve as an excellent deconstruction of this concept on the Race during Season 3. On the tails of fit male teams winning the first two seasons, many of the teams became immediately obsessed with beating the "wonder twins", despite Derek & Drew viewing themselves as barely hanging on for the first few legs. At the same time, Ken & Gerard talked about how no one was giving them any thought because of their pudgier physiques, and Teri & Ian were outright disregarded as fodder. While Derek & Drew did end up being formidable opponents, so did Ken & Gerard and Teri & Ian, who both edged out Derek & Drew to make it to the Final 3. The twins lost not because they got beat in some head-to-head competition, but simply because they couldn't find a clue.
    • Season 5 winner Chip was a huge proponent of this trope, especially when writing for the "Return of the Racers" blog for He constantly talked about how "alpha male" teams had a unfair advantage over all other teams, and how he and his wife never would have had a shot against one of these teams (even though they did beat the arguably stronger team of Colin & Christie). When he made a list of the strongest individual racers, the top 11 spots all went to men, with the top female racer being a physical trainer (though this was prior to Dustin & Kandice catching fire on Season 10).
    • In Season 17, Jill & Thomas actually averted this. Given the chance of U-Turning any team, they targeted diminutive Home Shopping Hosts Brook & Claire, citing them as the biggest threats left (and Brook & Claire did end up beating them in the end). Nick then went and played it straight when he had a chance to use the second slot on the Double U-Turn, wanting to target the team of Chad & Stephanie (who spent most of their time at the back of the pack) over Nat & Kat (who had three leg wins at that point), until Vicki talked him out of using the U-Turn.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Season 18 was painted as this, being called "Unfinished Business" and all. All-Stars also qualifies, at least for the teams that were not Uchenna & Joyce. Of course, for the teams returning, this also led to...
  • My Greatest Failure: This was emphasized for nine of the eleven teams returning for Unfinished Business. Only Jaime & Cara (14) and Amanda & Kris (14) were exempt, as the former finished 2nd without any obvious mistakes, and the later was U-Turned out of the Race. Those mistakes were:
    • Kynt & Vyxsin (12) having stick shift problems in Italy. However, no mention was made of their ultimate elimination after U-Turning a team that was in front of them until much later.
    • Christina (12) panicking and falling apart on the Final Puzzle.
    • Mel & Mike (14) sticking with a bad cab in Phuket.
    • Jen "pissing away a million dollars" on Season 14's penultimate leg.
    • Luke choking on the final surf board in Season 14's Final Puzzle after having 8 of the 11 surf boards placed by the time the other teams got there.
    • Zev & Justin losing a passport on Season 15's fourth leg.
    • Big Easy (15) being unable to unscramble the word "Franz," even with the "F" spotted to him, and taking a game ending penalty instead.
    • Jet & Cord (16) standing by as Dan & Jordan cut in line at the Shanghai airport in the finale, and allowing it to affect their game afterwards (see Failed a Spot Check above).
    • Gary & Mallory (17) getting lost for nine hours in Oman.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: One Detour in Season 14 required teams to listen to customers ordering food in Chinese, then repeat the orders to a chef. It was easy for Tammy & Victor since they spoke the language, but Kisha & Jen had a little difficulty: instead of ordering "New Taste Beef" they ordered "Oil Comes Again to Please the Mouth," and "Golden Pork Spare Ribs" got lost in translation as "Light Competition Red Dishes I've Played Before."
  • My Nayme Is: Kynt & Vyxsin ("Kent" and "Vixen"), Season 12 (though Kent reverted to normal spelling by Season 18); Cheyne (pronounced "Shane"), Season 15; Caite (pronounced "Katie", not "Kate"), Season 16.
  • Mythology Gag: BJ & Tyler, Season 9, paid tribute to Linda & Karen, the Bowling Moms from Season 5, by recreating their "Bowling Moms" shirts. They also shouted, "We're comin' for ya, Phil," on their way to the Finish Line, which was Ian's Catch Phrase in Season 3.
    • "We're comin' for ya, Phil," was also used by Zev & Justin in Season 18.
    • In Season 11, David & Mary wore shirts picturing Erwin & Godwin, aka the Cho Bros, who they allied with in Season 10. They later wore shirt with the word "Lost" and a picture of Phil printed on them, worn by Erwin & Godwin one season previously.
    • "It's on like Donkey Kong", originally said by Frank near the end of Season 1, has been quoted by several teams over the course of the series, such as Chip on Season 5, Cara on Season 14, and Cord on Season 16. (Chip's usage of it is probably the most well-known.)

United States Version N-Z

  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe Examples:
    • Jet (Season 16), a cowboy, missed lassoing his target while doing the Roadblock on the third leg. After successfully roping in his target on his second try, Cord started cracking jokes on how everybody will be ribbing Jet about missing it the first time back home.
    • Claire (Season 17) said in an interview that no matter what she does for the rest of her life, she expects to always be remembered as the woman who got hit in the face with a watermelon.
    • After Kisha & Jen won Unfinished Business, Jen admitted in an interview that people were teasing her for their elimination via bathroom break during Season 14 (calling her "Pee-Pee Girl"), and that winning Unfinished Business hopefully would put this to rest.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The promo for "Unfinished Business" shown at the end of Season 17 prominently featured a large number of teams, more than could be in a single season, and led to a number of false cast lists popping up on various sites.
  • Nice Hat: Cowboys Jet & Cord (Seasons 16 & 18) would never be seen without their cowboy hats, and always kept them on, even while bungee jumping. On the final leg of Season 16, Jet's character avatar at the Industrial Light & Magic challenge was even given a cowboy hat.
  • The Nicknamer: Chris & Alex (Season 2) had nicknames for every team except Tara & Wil, and they were generally picked up by the others.
  • No Indoor Voice: Mirna (5 & 11) had a penchant for yelling everything at Charla.
  • No Peripheral Vision: In Season 16, Jet & Cord passed by Brent while looking for a clue box, yet did not see him despite spotting his bags against a wall, looking right over his head, and being close enough to touch him. Brent's reaction to the whole thing was hilarious.
    • In the first episode of Season 20, Misa & Maya suffered one of the weirdest eliminations in TAR history due to this. Next-to-last at the end of the episode, they hoofed it to the Pit Stop, charging through an entryway into an open courtyard. Phil, the greeter, the Pit Stop mat, and Phil's camera and sound crew were all there in plain sight, approximately 80 yards to their right. Misa & Maya did not turn their heads and therefore failed to see them. They left the building in confusion, and, while they were wandering outside, Joey "Fitness" & Danny reached the Pit Stop, and Misa & Maya were eliminated. Phil's astonished look and "Where are they going?" exclamation after Misa & Maya left were particularly entertaining.
  • No Sense of Direction: Mark & Michael (Season 14) were infamous for this, and got lost on almost every leg.
    • John Vito & Jill were eliminated this way on both Seasons 3 and 11.
  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted with Bill & Joe (Seasons 1 and 11), Kate & Pat (Season 12), and Mel (Seasons 14 & 18).
  • Non Gameplay Elimination: Two teams have chosen to quit the race after being unable to complete tasks (Marshall & Lance on Season 5 and Maria & Tiffany on Season 15), four have been subject to the "field elimination" (see below), Zev & Justin were eliminated from Season 15 for losing their passports, and many teams have been subject to the "Mercy Kill", in which they're so far behind, they're given a clue that sends them straight to the Pit Stop for elimination.
    • The four teams to be eliminated by Phil while still on the course are:
      • Lena & Kristy (Season 6) when Lena was unable to complete the hay bale Roadblock, and refused to quit.
      • Toni & Dallas (Season 13) after Dallas lost their money and passports and they were unable to make it to the Pit Stop.
      • Dana & Adrian (Season 16) when Adrian was unable to complete the very first task of the race.
      • Joe & Heidi (Season 16) after they were U-Turned and were unable to complete the Morse Code Detour.
  • The Not-Secret: Ethan & Jenna (19) wanted to keep it a secret that they had both won Survivor in order to keep the other teams from targeting them. However, at the same time they were telling this to the camera, the other teams were talking about it at the gate.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Inverted in Season 17 when, after being U-Turned, Chad started taunting Nat at the Roadblock. Though really, it might have just been because Chad didn't know the difference between an MD and a PhD.

Chad: Nat you should be able to get this easy. How's that PhD helping you?
Nat (in a voice over): For the record, I have an MD, I do not have a PhD.

  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Rob (7), after the elimination of Lynn & Alex in 5th place, as he saw them as the only real competition left between him and the million dollars. Of course, he, like the audience, overlooked Uchenna & Joyce lurking in the background...
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Unfinished Business had these for three different teams when they realized they had lost the Race. Jet & Cord relaxed and enjoyed their pot of fondue at their last Detour, Zev & Justin toasted with a pair of caipirinhas at their last Detour, and Flight Time & Big Easy slowed down to enjoy the scenery on their bike ride across Seven Mile Bridge.
    • Nary & Jamie had one on leg 7 of Season 20 when they stopped on the side of the road to watch a herd of elephants. They were then non-eliminated.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Lori & Bolo tried this at the beginning of Season 6. Luckily, they dropped it quickly.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: According to Dustin & Kandice, this is how they played the first part of Season 11. Whether they were doing this to keep the other teams from seeing them as a threat, or just to conserve energy for later in the game is unclear, although by the time they got serious and broke away from the pack, most of the other teams had dismissed them as a couple of Dumb Blondes. (It probably helped that Season 10 was still airing when Season 11 started filming, meaning the other teams might not have known exactly how dangerous the Beauty Queens really were.)
    • By the end of Season 3, Zach & Flo had become fairly certain that this was part of Ian's strategy.
    • Nick & Starr from Season 13 had very little travel experience, so they deliberately played up their youth and inexperience to get middle-aged couple Ken & Tina to see them as sort of surrogate children and help them out at the airports.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Limits on how many Roadblocks a racer could perform were instigated after Season 5, after the three women who made the Final 3 that year performed a total of three Roadblocks combined.
    • The first two seasons had no rules in place for when a team's car broke down. These were instigated in Season 3 after several time credits were issued in Season 2 (including one that saved Blake & Paige from an elimination, which they received after Paige threatened to sue).
    • After Season 3, it became standard on selling tasks, where teams had to reach a certain amount of money made, for each individual item to have a minimum amount it could be sold for. This was after Ken & Gerard completed such a task by selling massive amounts of fruit for what would average out to be very low prices, and repeatedly going back to the stall to get more to sell.
    • Ties were disallowed after Season 4, to prevent having to give out multiple prizes for 1st place ties, and, more importantly, to keep two teams from accidentally tying for last.
    • On Season 1, teams were only allowed to buy one set of plane tickets, and weren't allowed to switch, even if they found a faster flight or their original flight was delayed. This was changed on the very next season, and multiple flight bookings has become an important part of the Metagame ever since.
    • After All-Stars, the practice of bringing locals along in the team's vehicle to help with navigation and other tasks was made against the rules. (See Loophole Abuse)
    • After the teams on Season 17 were Genre Savvy enough to take detailed notes throughout the race in anticipation of the Final Exam Finale, Season 19's Final Exam Finale instructions specifically forbade the use of notes. (There was no Final Exam Finale in Season 18.) This did have a precedent in Season 12 which disallowed the use of a pen and paper to solve its final task.
    • Other minor changes were made to keep teams from taking advantage of loopholes, such as buying cellphones from locals (which Rob & Brennan did on Season 1) or switching their damaged car for another team's car at the Pit Stop (Dustin & Kandice on Season 10).
  • Odd Friendship: Sometimes, teams you probably wouldn't expect to ever be friends become just that over the course of the Race, such as the quartet of Kentucky hicks David & Mary, African-American single moms Lyn & Karlyn, Ivy League Asian brothers Erwin & Godwin, and gay couple Tom & Terry from Season 10.
    • Intergenerational Friendship: Examples include "wonder twins" Derek & Drew and balding middle-aged brothers Ken & Gerard in Season 3, married African-American couple Chip & Kim and blonde twins Kami & Karli in Season 5, bickering young couple Brent & Caite and middle-aged cops Louie & Michael in Season 16.
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Seasons 8 ("Family Edition"), 11 ("All-Stars"), and 18 ("Unfinished Business").
  • One-Hit Kill: The U-Turn usually functioned as one, especially in its early seasons, though there were often other factors that contributed to a team's loss than just the time spent on a U-Turn. The Double U-Turn was introduced so that at least one team would survive it.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, as almost every season has at least two racers with the same name.
    • Season 4 had the team Amanda & Chris, while Seasons 14 & 18 featured the team of Amanda & Kris.
    • Season 4 also had the team Russell & Cindy, while Season 2 had the team Russell & Cyndi.
    • Season 4 was particularly bad about this, as it had three Steves, two Jons, and two Davids (although one of them went by Dave).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy (Seasons 15 & 18) were never referred to by their 'real' names during the show. However, they were listed as Herbert & Nathaniel in their bio on the website and in most early promotional materials.
    • Season 20 includes a guy called Joey "Fitness" (quotes included on the onscreen captions) and a guy who goes by Bopper.
  • Opening Narration: Only on Season 1.
  • Opposites Attract: Season 19 had uptight, study freak Cindy paired with self proclaimed slacker Ernie.
  • Out of Focus: Particularly bad on the first few legs, when some teams can go entire episodes getting only one or two lines, though these are usually teams who last late into the race and will get their airtime later.
    • Brennan from Season 1 was almost never shown talking in the interview segments; all the talking came from his partner Rob. He later explained in an interview that this was probably due to his tendency to ramble on compared to his partner's terser, and hence more editing-friendly, talking.
    • Derek got pushed into the background in Season 3's later episodes in favor of the Drew/Flo/Zach Love Triangle.
    • David & Jeff finished third in Season 4, but their entire story line boiled down to "fit male team who the other teams saw as a threat." It didn't help that, due to jumping randomly on a plane without first finding tickets all the way to Hawaii, they ultimately disappeared halfway through the finale, and did not appear at the Finish Line with the other teams.
    • Uchenna & Joyce won Season 7, but did not get major airtime until leg 8.
    • Kisha & Jen got lost behind all the big personalities in Unfinished Business, and only got snippets of airtime prior to the last four legs.
    • Jeremy & Sandy (19) finished in second, but didn't get much screen time until one of the late legs.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The Japanese Game Show Roadblocks in the Season 15 premiere and Season 20 finale, including the sound effects and graphics to go along with them.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: A big theme of Season 19 was Ernie & Cindy running a successful, No Damage Run race, yet constantly feeling like a second-tier team because they did not achieve many first place finishes, and constantly made late mistakes that allowed them to be overtaken and beaten by Andy & Tommy (who managed to build up the image of an unstoppable force heading into the finals only to suffer a Shocking Elimination in the Final Four). Once the snowboarders were gone, they were far above the remaining competition heading into the final leg, and they cruised to victory.
    • Long before that, Colin & Christie did the same thing to every team on Season 5, especially Charla & Mirna, who had three 2nd place finishes before going out in 6th place due to a gamble on a flight backfiring. When Charla & Mirna returned on All-Stars, they surprised a lot of their fellow racers (and even more fans) with how competent they were.
    • Guaranteed to happen on any All-Star seasons, as an increase in competition means that teams who led their seasons are all of a sudden running with the pack, while teams that would otherwise be expected to make the Final 3 on a normal season are all of a sudden scratching and clawing to stay in the race. Unless they're a top tier team like Dustin & Kandice and Rob & Amber (on All-Stars), or Zev & Justin (on Unfinished Business), no team really has a chance of standing out.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Not for the viewers, but the racers. It's well known how quickly fortunes can turn on the Race, and not knowing where the other teams are, especially on the later legs when there's only four or five teams left, can cause some pretty entertaining freak outs. Rob & Amber and Dustin & Kandice were two of the more popular teams for others to focus their paranoia on.
    • Danny & Oswald (only on Season 2) had a tendency to act very calm under pressure, and liked to keep separate from all the other teams, they even once got lost and showed up at a location right before it opened, only the other teams thought they were doing this all deliberately to mess with their heads.
    • Colin & Christie (Season 5) also created some of this, especially in the penultimate leg, where they had fallen to last place for once, and the other teams kept on anxiously checking to see if they had caught up yet.
    • Rob had most of the other teams outright obsessed with him on Season 11, to the point where Bill said, "Rob is not Jesus," to Joe in a completely serious manner. The only team who was not impressed by Rob were the aforementioned Dustin & Kandice.
    • On Season 12, Nathan & Jennifer were convinced Kynt & Vyxsin had some sort of evil witch powers.
  • Perky Goth: Kynt & Vyxsin, Seasons 12 & 18. They wore pink, too.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Blake & Paige (2) earned themselves the nickname "Team Smiley" from the other teams for a reason.
    • Kris & Jon (6), in stark contrast to all the fighting couples they raced against.
    • Kisha (14 & 18), though much of this was because she tended to smile and laugh when she was nervous.
    • Nat (17) could always be seen sporting a smile that seemed to take up half of her face.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Karlyn (10), to the point where her surly demeanor was pointed out by the other teams.
  • Pet the Dog: Colin & Christie (Season 5) gave away one of their (many) trips to last place finishers Dennis & Erika after the race. This was probably due to Dennis relenting a cab to them in the first leg, effectively eliminating himself.
    • Despite her hatred of anyone who could not speak English, Jaime (14) was repeatedly shown to go out of her way to communicate with the deaf Luke.
    • In between trying to incite fights between other teams and being all around arrogant, Art & JJ gave half of their leg 4 winnings to Bopper ($5,000) for his daughter when they though he and Mark were about to be eliminated.
  • Pie in the Face: A Season 14 Detour had teams pelt each other in the face with pies until they found one with a cherry filling.
  • Politeness Judo: Nat & Kat (Season 17) used "please" and "thank you" to make their way around the world, and never lost their temper, even at each other. They used their politeness to get a man to buy them a travel guide, and to defuse Chad's temper after they had U-Turned him.

Nat: Hi, I'm sorry, I'm in a race.

    • Danny & Oswald (2 & 11) also used politeness to get ahead, but ended up using too much "Politeness" and not enough "Judo", as they tailed off at the end of both of their seasons.
  • Potty Emergency: In Season 14, Episode 11, Jen really had to go after downing four bottles of water during the food-eating Roadblock. So she did, even though Jaime & Cara were right behind them, because she didn't want to pee in her pants. Her pants stayed dry, but she and Kisha ended up eliminated thanks to the time lost in the restroom.
    • Brent had a similar experience on leg 11 of Season 16, and left a Detour to use the restroom, only instead of getting eliminated, he and Caite ended up winning that leg.
    • Hendekea also had one in Season 12, though she and her brother ended up winning that leg as well.
  • Power Blonde: Dustin & Kandice (10 & 11).
  • Precap: Almost exclusively in Season 14.
    • Season 20 used one in leg 7 to recap the major storylines of the season so far, and show where they would be heading starting in that episode.
  • Product Placement: Most seasons have a leg that feature the Travelocity roaming gnome, starting with Season 7. Season 17 was the first in a long time not to use it. Even discounting that, one of Phil's Once an Episode lines is "For winning this leg of the race, you have won a trip to beautiful [place] from Travelocity."
    • Kodak EasyShare cameras were the leg prize four times, and were used in a challenge, in Season 3.
    • Season 9 featured a trailer for The Da Vinci Code during one episode.
    • Leg 7 of Season 16 had a "7" theme, including a sponsored prize by 7-Up at the end of the leg.
    • Season 18 included a leg in India with a lot of tea-themed tasks, sponsored by Snapple. In a subversion, they resisted the urge to plug Snapple at every opportunity and didn't even explain that the teas used were Snapple-brand until the finish line. Zig-zagged when one clue was a bottle of iced tea, as the bottles were unlabeled but the racers still recognized them; Jen and Kisha even thought they had to find a Snapple factory until they found the real clue under the cap.
    • Leg 10 of Season 19 had teams drive to the Ford Proving Grounds in Belgium where they had to drive Mustangs. The prize for winning the leg was a Mustang for each team member. Oddly enough, the next leg had a task based on the comic Tintin and aired at about the time a movie adaptation hit theaters, but no reference was made to the movie at all; Tintin was presented as merely a Belgian cultural icon.
    • In general, seasons often have Ford loan cars for a leg for the contestants to drive, in exchange for the show going out of its way to point out that the cars were made by Ford (usually once near the beginning when they get to the cars, and again at the Pit Stop) and usually including a challenge designed to show off some aspect of the car model being used.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Being a huge fan of the show was a major part of the story lines for both Luke on Season 14, and Jordan (the male one) on Season 16. For Jordan, his race knowledge even turned into a Chekhov's Skill in the finale, when he used it to beat out the dangerous team of Jet & Cord.
  • Produce Pelting: One Detour late in Season 10 had the locals pelting racers with tomatoes as part of La Tomatina, the local tomato festival.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Dave & Lori, Season 9, constantly referred to themselves as "The Nerds".
    • Mark & Bill, Season 13. Mark's even the treasurer for Comic-Con.
  • Punny Name: Starr Spangler (of Nick & Starr, Season 13).
  • Rage Quit: Eric & Lisa (Season 15) were eliminated at the starting line. They were not pleased at all, and didn't even go into sequester or attend the final leg. According to show staff, they just walked right on out and went home. Arguably, they were actually justified or at least understandable. Not many people get to go on The Amazing Race, being eliminated first sucks and all, but at least you get to have fun in sequester. As one fan put it, being eliminated at the starting line was akin to qualifying for the Olympic Games but being eliminated during the starting ceremony.
    • Nick & Vicki, or rather just Nick, provided one of the Race's uglier moments in Season 17. Nick, who had come off as something of a rageaholic for much of the season, finally snapped in Hong Kong and quit in the middle of a task, literally lying down and refusing to help Vicki find a boat in Hong Kong harbor. This dragged out for two episodes, as that was a non-elimination leg, but the six-hour penalty for quitting a Detour caused them to miss the flight with all the other teams and insured their elimination in the next episode.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Andy & Tommy (19) were quite open about their faith.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: Phil has two variations on the Catch Phrase he uses to greet teams at the Pit Stop. He normally uses, "You are team number n," to check the teams in. However, he sometimes uses the far more ominous, "You are the nth team to arrive," which always proceeds either a penalty or another clue, yet teams are always caught off guard when Phil follows it up with, "However..."
    • In Season 15 the teams had to go down the six story tall Leap of Faith water slide in Dubai. Mika, who was not only afraid of heights, but of water too, was shocked to find herself put in such a situation. She continuously screamed that she wasn't going down the slide, despite that Flight Time & Big Easy were right behind them and actually went right ahead of them.
    • Vicki (Season 17) didn't know how the Fast Forward worked. She wanted to go for it because she was "pretty sure everybody did the Fast Forward," and then, once she and Nick got to the Fast Forward and saw the "Fast Forward Taken" sign, Vicki did not know whether that meant someone was currently in the process of taking the Fast Forward, and wondered if they should wait around.
    • On Season 19, Laurence & Zac got off a first class bus to Bangkok and ran back to the bus station to get on another bus, wasting both money and time because they thought the "no first class plane tickets" rule applied to buses as well. At the Pit Stop, Phil questioned their motives, doing everything but calling it a stupid move.
    • Apparently Rachel (20), after winning Big Brother, thought the Race would be a nice, fun trip around the world with her fiance. You know, despite the fact that it's a competition for a million dollars, and more than half the couples who've been on the show have ended up fighting due to the stresses of the Race.
  • Rearrange the Song: Between Seasons 13 and 14. Whether the change was for the better?
  • Recap Episode: Only in Seasons 6 and 7.
  • Redhead in Green: Redheads Jaime & Cara's team color was green on Season 14, and it featured prominently in their wardrobe.
    • Redhead Rachel (of Brendon & Rachel, Season 20) wore a sparkly green shirt in the first leg, and it was even pointed out by the other Rachel.
  • Redemption Quest: Ronald was very hard on his daughter Christina near the beginning on Season 12, and spent the rest of the season trying to fix his relationship with her. Their appearance in Season 18 looked like it might become a repeat, but they were eliminated halfway through the season, prior to any "redemption".
    • Ken cheated on his wife Tina prior to appearing on Season 13, and was on a Redemption Quest to make it up to her... only over the course of the season Tina came off as a shrew who mistreated Ken, causing the fanbase to sympathize with him instead of her.
    • Subverted with Caite in Season 16, trying to prove her intelligence after that infamous beauty pageant response, you know the one. She may have accomplished her goal of getting to the Final 3, but, as a result of several stupid mistakes and constant bickering with her boyfriend, Brent, her image probably got worse.
  • Regional Riff: Played with during a cricket Detour on Season 20. After having the teams compare the challenge to "just like hitting a baseball," the challenge is scored by sitar versions of "Charge" and "Take Me Out To The Ball Game".
  • Relationship Upgrade: Subverted on Season 3. Zach & Flo came on as Just Friends looking for more; they left the race with Flo dating a racer from another team.
    • On leg 8 of Season 17, Chad proposed to Stephanie in Oman while they were waiting for their departure time to continue their leg. Their title was subsequently upgraded from "Newly Dating" to "Engaged".
  • Revenge Before Reason: Late in Season 6, Freddy & Kendra got to the Yield first, and decided to use it on Adam & Rebecca for U-Turning them earlier in the season, this is despite of also being in front of the much stronger Kris & Jon. Even Kris & Jon pointed out that they should have been the target of the Yield.
    • Brent & Caite U-Turning "mean lesbians" Brandy & Carol on Season 16, even though Jet & Cord were also behind them.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors: How Andy & Tommy (19) decided who would do what Roadblock.
  • Romance on the Set: After Season 12, Christina (of "Ronald &") got engaged to Azaria (of "& Hendekea"); this was mentioned during Christina's appearance on Unfinished Business. This belongs here instead of Token Romance as, though they were allies during the race, their romance was never mentioned.
  • Rule of Cool: The Season 14 premiere had the teams bungee jumping off of the dam from the beginning of GoldenEye. As it was the only task in that part of Switzerland, sandwiched between two train rides, the Roadblock was there simply to allow the racers to emulate James Bond.
  • Rule of Funny: Almost any time they make the racers dress in costume. There's no special need for it, it's usually not for safety, and it's just there to make the racers look ridiculous.
    • Several challenges have a band playing local music, for no apparent purpose except driving the racers completely nuts as their patience wears thin and the music keeps distracting them.
    • Then there are the non-musical locals whose only purpose is to laugh at the teams when they mess up.
    • In Switzerland, the racers had to take 200-pound wheels of cheese down a very steep hill... and were intentionally provided with very cheap equipment.
  • Running Gag: Season 5, Episode 6: The Roadblock has teams digging through a patch of sand searching for a wooden scarab. As each team reads the clue, they invariably ask: "What's a scarab?"

Colin: Is this it?
Christie: That's a rock.

    • Brook & Claire from Season 17 had a "kiss count" for every guy they would kiss during the race. It totaled out at 9.
  • Say My Name: "LENNNYYYY!" i.e., what Karyn was famous for doing to Lenny in Season 1.
  • The Scrappy: In-series, any time a team is cast from Survivor or Big Brother, they immediately earn the ire of the other teams, especially since four of the five teams cast won one of those previous shows.
  • Secret-Chaser: Around the mid-point of Season 20, Art & JJ figured out that Federal Agents Nary & Jamie were not teachers, like they claimed to be, and started telling all the other teams that they're cops of some sort. When they confronted Nary & Jamie about it, the girls knew their cover was blown, but kept to the lie just to annoy Art & JJ.
  • Self-Deprecation: A number of racers are fairly self-aware about their failings:
    • Ken & Gerard (Season 3) did this to each other throughout the race, garnering several memorable quips, like when Ken was repelling down a cliff in Portugal and his brother replied with:

Gerard: "Just pretend there's a dozen glazed doughnuts at the bottom!"

    • Steve & Dave (Season 4) would make fun of themselves both during and after the race in their recaps. From when Steve bungee jumped in Austria:

Dave: "He got to the top of the tower and it was like an eclipse. Greenpeace showed up and said, 'Will you please stop throwing whales from the tower?'"

    • Dan & Andrew acknowledging how they weren't that good at the game.

"A compilation video needs to be made about all our mistakes. It'll be very long."

    • Part of what made Zev (15 & 18) so charming was his ability to make quips about his Asperger's syndrome.
    • Vanessa in Season 20, in response to her partner Ralph commenting that the locals seem happy to see them:

"That's because they haven't met us yet."

  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: "Unfinished Business" replaced two early non-elimination legs with super legs, forcing teams to keep going without a break; justifiable in that everyone in Season 18 had played the game before and knew what they were in for.
  • Sequence Breaking: Either by pure chance or by following another team, teams can skip clues, or even entire challenges, yet still find their way to the Pit Stop. Subverted when Phil forces them to turn around and complete the task/retrieve the clue that they missed.
    • In Season 1, leg 5, Paul & Amie got lost looking for the Roadblock and came across the Pit Stop by mistake. They were already in last, so were eliminated instead of being sent back to complete the leg.
    • In Season 3's final elimination leg, Derek & Drew missed the Roadblock clue, and instead boarded the ferry that took them to the Pit Stop. In the time it took them to go back and complete the Roadblock, they were eliminated.
    • In the first leg of Season 5, both Chip & Kim and Kami & Karli missed the Detour clue, stumbling across one of the Detour choices by chance. In the time it took them to retrieve the clue, they fell from 1st and 2nd to 8th and 9th place.
    • In Season 7, leg 7, Gretchen & Meredith missed the clue at the end of the Roadblock, and followed the road to the Pit Stop. They fell from 4th to 5th when sent back for the clue.
    • In Season 11, leg 3, Dustin & Kandice spotted the path to one of the Detours without ever finding the clue that was supposed to point them to said path. Though being sent back to get the clue cost them several minutes, they did not fall any spots because some other teams saw them going back to get the clue, and promptly followed them the wrong way.
    • In Season 13, leg 10, Ken & Tina missed the clue to the Pit Stop at the end of the Detour, having arrived there by following Dan & Andrew. Though they had to go find the clue before checking in, Toni & Dallas were so far behind that they had plenty of time to retrieve it.
    • In Season 16, Brent & Caite did it twice, first by missing the clue at the U-Turn on leg 6 (this did not effect their placement), then again on leg 8 when they followed Brandy & Carol to the Pit Stop without ever completing the Detour.
    • In the Season 20, Rachel & Dave's driver took them to the wrong location, ending up at the Finish Line instead of the final Roadblock. They still managed to win, however, as Art struggled so badly at the Roadblock, that Rachel was able to catch and pass him up.
  • Shark Tunnel: Leg 11 of Season 4 and the Season 18 premiere (both of which took place in Australia) both had racers wait in one of these while their teammate did a Roadblock in the surrounding tank.
  • She's Got Legs: Yolanda (Season 9) had her legs commented on by various locals, and Phil even complimented them, though they were more muscular than long.
  • Shocking Elimination: In Season 11, Rob & Amber came in first place on the first three legs, only to be eliminated on the fourth leg after one of the worst streaks of horrible luck and bad decisions in Race history.
    • Derek & Drew (Season 3) and Dustin & Kandice (Season 10) were both favorites to win their respective seasons, only to get lost looking for a task (a Roadblock for Derek & Drew, a Detour for Dustin & Kandice), and wind up finishing fourth.
    • Peter & Sarah (10) had finished in the top 3 in 4 of the first 5 legs (and won 2 legs), but were eliminated in leg 6 after screwing up the navigation so badly that they were sent to the Pit Stop without even completing the Detour. At one point they even spotted a Race arrow, only to discover it led to the Fast Forward, which unfortunately for them had already been taken.
    • Azaria & Hendekea, Season 12, won three of the first four legs, but had airport trouble on the sixth leg, resulting in their elimination.
    • Toni & Dallas from Season 13, who seemed a lock for the Final 3 until Dallas made the fatal mistake of leaving their fanny pack, containing all their money and passports, in a taxi.
    • Zev & Justin, in Season 15, also lost a passport (on a leg they would have otherwise won), but their elimination was not quite as shocking due to the combination of CBS playing up the lost passport in promos (which in itself is none too damning as the Race has a history of Pseudo Crisis in promos), and getting a fairly-obvious A Death in the Limelight episode. Their elimination in Season 18 also would have been shocking, had it not also been spoiled by a promo.
    • Margie & Luke on Season 18, after Luke fell apart at a tea tasting Roadblock. This was the first time in a season and a half they had ever been in danger of elimination, and was made especially shocking by the Producers breaking one of their main guidelines in that they showed Margie & Luke to be in danger at the end of the previous episode, which usually means that team is safe.
    • Andy & Tommy (19) came in first on 6 legs, and were looking like they were going to get a 7th in the second to last leg. However, due to nothing more than bad luck they ended up falling just short of the final 3 (only Jeremy & Sandy got the clue right, and their cab driver shared info with the drivers of the two teams by them; Andy & Tommy weren't with the pack and so missed out).
    • There's actually a trend of early frontrunners being eliminated in 8th or 9th place. Starting with Season 2, there's Shola & Doyin (2), Heather & Eve (3), Steve & Josh (4), Bob & Joyce (5), Lena & Kristy (6), Debbie & Bianca (7), the Schroeder Family (8, though they technically finished 7th, the Family Edition only had 10 teams), Wanda & Desiree (9), Duke & Lauren (10), Rob & Amber (11), Lorena & Jason (12), Mark & Bill (13), Amanda & Kris (14), Zev & Justin (15), Monique & Shawne (16), Joe & Heidi (16), Connor & Jonathan (17), Katie & Rachel (17), and Margie & Luke (18).
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The lighthearted, easy going, and comedic relief teams generally tend to trail off near the end of each season, when things get more competitive and they find it harder to keep up with the more cutthroat teams. Two such teams have managed to win the race (Chip & Kim from Season 5, and BJ & Tyler from Season 9), but only after they had an elimination scare and got serious. Other such teams are:
    • Jon & Al (4th place on Season 4) are probably the most fitting, seeing as they were actual clowns.
    • Danny & Oswald finished 4th on both Seasons 2 and 11, winning three legs on both Seasons.
    • Wisecracking Zev & Justin fell just short of the Final 3 on Unfinished Business.
    • Andy & Tommy finished 4th on Season 19, becoming the first team with at least five leg wins to miss the Final 3.
    • Ken & Gerard (3), Nicolas & Donald (12), and Dan & Andrew (13) all made the Final 3, only to finish a distant third.
    • There's the "Fan Favorites Finish Fourth" trend, which (aside from the above) includes Kevin & Drew (1), Linda & Karen (5), Gretchen & Meredith (7), and Flight Time & Big Easy (15).
    • Starting with Season 7, 5th place became the axing point for such teams with Lynn & Alex (7), the dysfunctional Paolo Family (8), Fran & Barry (9), Erwin & Godwin (10), Uchenna & Joyce (who on All-Stars did not seem to have the same drive after winning Season 7), Kynt & Vyxsin (12 and Unfinished Business), and Mark & Bopper (20) going out.
  • Shopping Montage: There was one of these in Season 2, with several teams involved, and was used to set up the flirtation between Alex and Tara, as well as the cliquish nature of the teams. This was obviously before teams learned the importance of money management.
    • In the next leg, Oswald & Danny, while waiting for a booking agency to secure them flights, took time off to shop, refreshing themselves and distancing themselves from the more cutthroat teams. The net result? They got the first flight out, drove in luxury to the airport, and came in an easy first on that leg.
  • Signature Line: Colin's "My ox is broken! This is bull****!" from Season 5. My Ox Is Broken even became the name of a tie-in anthology book.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Mirna played this to Colin on Season 5, and watching the teams butt heads turned into one of the more entertaining plot lines of the season. This relationship was actually beneficial for Colin, as Mirna gave him an outlet for his anger, which, once she was gone, he turned it on Christie (and local cab drivers) instead, leading to his Villainous Breakdown.
    • Dustin & Kandice with Lyn & Karlyn on Season 10, then with Charla & Mirna on Season 11.
    • Brandy and Caite on Season 16, though this was a much less enjoyable rivalry.
    • Vanessa and "Big Brother" Rachel on Season 20, with Vanessa being the obvious instigator with her frequent shots at Rachel.
  • The Slacker: Eric (9 and 11) & Jeremy (9) stated that they were this.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Dan (Season 13). He liked to insist that he and Andrew were actually a competent team, even as they made boneheaded mistakes in almost every single leg and survived only because of non-elimination or other teams' mistakes. Only at the finish line did he admit that they pretty much sucked.
    • Lance, Season 15, bragging about his Informed Ability, only to fall short very early in the race.
    • Laurence (Season 19) liked to constantly let the cameras know how much better he would have done everything than his son, and was shown to be nearly insufferable any time he interacted with the other teams.
  • Something We Forgot: Leg 4 of Season 4, the race to the mat between Kelly & John and Steve & Dave was edited to look like the battle to avoid elimination, with even the sad elimination music being played as Steve & Dave strolled up to the mat. Only after Steve & Dave were told they were still in the race did it cut to Steve & Josh, who had fallen hopelessly behind and quietly disappeared from the episode halfway through.
  • Split Screen: Beginning with Season 14, which made it easier for viewers to keep track of where teams were in relation with each long as the editors were being honest, that is.
  • Spoiler Opening: Season 1's opening titles showed actual locations teams would be going to and tasks they would be doing, making it quite easy to work out whether certain teams were going to make it through to the next leg of the race. It was not until Season 14 that they started to show shots from the season during the credits again, and then they were only ever shots from the current or previous episodes.
    • Early seasons included the phrases "Who will be eliminated... tonight?" and "The last team to the Pit Stop will be eliminated," and any deviation was an instant tip-off that it was a non-elimination leg. Production quickly made it standard procedure to use ambiguous language ("Who will be eliminated... next?" and "The last team to the Pit Stop may be eliminated."). Even the teams picked up on this, and it was pointed out by Tara & Wil in Season 2.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Were there any teams on Season 9 other than BJ & Tyler? Alternatively, were there any teams on Season 9 worth paying attention to other than BJ & Tyler?
    • The first three episodes of Season 2 focused almost entirely on Tara & Wil and "Gustsy Grannies" Peggy & Claire (to the point where Danny & Oswald, one of the most popular teams to ever run the Race, had almost no airtime). While Tara & Wil, as that season's villains, was at least understandable, Peggy & Claire spent their three legs time in the back of the pack, and were probably only included as a "feel good story" (they even got a montage of the other teams gushing about them upon their elimination).
    • Charla & Mirna at the beginning of Season 5 (though not so much during Season 11). Being the Race's first Inspirationally Disadvantaged team, they were naturally featured heavily during advertising, and had by far the most airtime in the first several legs (until Colin became the much more interesting racer). They later became the only team to finish lower than fourth to make their season's DVD cover, displacing a team who made the Final 3.
    • Rob & Amber for the first four legs of Season 11, to the point where every other team seemed to have a fixation on what Rob was doing. It was almost like watching him on Survivor.

Bill: "Rob is not Jesus."

    • Dan & Andrew, Season 13. They were horrible racers, yet they got more airtime than any other team, and were even featured in promos more than anyone else. There was massive complaining from the fans that such a bad team was getting so much spotlight shone on them, until fans realized that they were so hilariously bad, they were the best part of what was otherwise an ultimately lackluster season.
    • Zev & Justin, up until their elimination by lost passport, seemed to be the entire focus of Season 15 (with only small breaks to watch Maria & Tiffany alienate the other teams, and Lance be a Jerkass). Their elimination episode even gave them more airtime than all the other teams combined. After they were gone, Maria & Tiffany were the only team left with the ability to carry the season, and once the girls were gone, the entire season devolved into one of the most boring stretches of episodes since the beginning of Season 9.
    • Jet & Cord, during Season 16, got their own theme, had their own commercial for the Country Music Awards, raced with many cowboyish themed tasks, and had a fanbase that both ripped apart Dan & Jordan for winning, and would get upset at any suggestion that the Cowboys were not the greatest thing to ever happen to the Race.
    • Before Unfinished Business even aired, Season 14 became a Spotlight Stealing Season, taking 5 of the 11 cast spots (plus first alternate Steve & Linda, who finished 10th originally), leaving only six cast spots for the other five seasons, including zero representatives from Season 13, and only a 6th place team from Season 17 (though the two best candidates from Season 17, Nat & Kat won the race, disqualifying them for Unfinished Business, and Claire got pregnant). Bertram Van Munster called 14 a "very unique season" in order to justify this overcasting. Ironically, 4 of the 5 teams cast from that season were eliminated in the bottom 4 places, Amanda & Kris were halted by a U-Turn again, Mel & Mike were forced out of the running due to medical concerns, Jaime & Cara were foiled by a Roadblock in China, and Margie & Luke suffered an extremely shocking elimination when Luke choked on the Roadblock in India. But then Kisha & Jen turned around and won the whole thing, so...
  • The Stoic: Phil, particularly in the earlier seasons, though this is more of an effort to remain neutral than anything else. On Season 16, Jordan (the female one) admitted to being unnerved by Phil's stoic-ness, and the Cowboys told Phil that he should play cards with such a poker face.
    • However, sometimes his neutrality breaks and his emotions and opinions show through, such as midway through Season 13, when he told mistake-prone Dan & Andrew that he thought they would be the next team eliminated, or when he fled from coal dust covered Danny & Oswald during All-Stars. He also stepped out of his neutral role in Season 6, when he cautioned Jonathan to talk to his wife after shoving her for coming in second at a Pit Stop.
  • Storming the Castle: Literally in Seasons 7 and 17, while in Season 12 it was more of a cliffside fortress. Other seasons have involved castles, including Bran Castle, but these were the only three that involved scaling the walls.
  • Invisible to Gaydar: Sam & Dan (Season 15).
  • Stunt Casting: It's been going on since at least Season 5, though some of the more notable examples are:
    • Big Brother 4 runner-up Alison Irwin in Season 5.
    • Survivor Super Couple Rob & Amber in Season 7. In this case, at least, it worked, as Season 7 remains the highest-rated season and brought in a new wave of viewers who stuck with the show. Of course, their Survivor fame helped them on the course of the race. The roadblock on one leg required navigating a bustling, maze-like South African marketplace to purchase several specific items. Amber was struggling with the task when a bystander recognized her from the show and volunteered to guide her, allowing her to complete the Roadblock in a matter of minutes.
    • Mike White, who wrote and played Ned Schneebly in School of Rock, in Season 14.
    • Harlem Globetrotters "Flight Time" & "Big Easy" in Season 15.
    • Professional poker players Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle, also in Season 15. Tiffany was recognized at the airport in Tokyo.
    • Big Brother 11 players Jeff & Jordan in Season 16.
    • Also in Season 16, Caite Upton, the former Miss Teen South Carolina, famous for this response to the question of why one fifth of Americans can't find the U.S. on a map. One of her fellow racers even did an impersonation of her speech:

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children.

    • Season 17 features KevJumba.
    • Survivor couple Ethan Zohn from Survivor: Africa and All-Stars and Jenna Morasco from Survivor: The Amazon and All-Stars on Season 19.
    • Season 19 also had a few athletes in former Indianapolis Colts tight end Marcus Pollard and Olympic snowboarder Andy Finch. As well as Zac Sunderland, the first person under the age of 18 to sail around the world.
    • Big Brother 12 & 13 players Brendon & Rachel on Season 20.
    • Strangely averted with former Playmate Victoria Fuller (Season 6), who you never would have known was a Playmate from watching the actual show. Same with aspiring Playmate Jennifer Hopka (Season 14). In fact, the only mention Playboy had ever gotten on the show was when Season 12 departed from the Playboy Mansion.
      • Jaime Faith Edmondson was also a Playmate, but only became one between Seasons 14 and 18.
  • Surfer Dude: Though they were technically snow boarders, Season 19's Andy & Tommy fit this trope perfectly.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Mary & Dave (10 & 11), the coal miner and wife from Kentucky.
    • Bopper & Mark were also good ol' Kentucky boys, and widely considered vastly preferable to the more aggressive personalities of the four teams that outlasted them in Season 20.
    • Though more West than South, Jet & Cord gave off a similar vibe in Seasons 16 and 18.
    • Notably averted with the one team nicknamed 'Bama, Lyn & Karlyn (10).
  • Talkative Loon: Ronald (12 and 18), especially in leg 2 of Season 12, when he told his daughter to be a "happy leaping monkey". Sometimes it was hard to tell if his English was just that bad, or he really was crazy.

Ronald: I'm optimistic with that real truth flavor.

  • Team Parents: Older teams sometimes become regarded as such by the other racers. Bill & Cathi were even nicknamed "Ma and Pa" in Season 19.
  • Tempting Fate: "Boston" Rob managed to do this several times, on both Seasons 7 and 11. You think he would have learned his lesson the first time he said "There's no way we can lose this."
  • That's Gotta Hurt: The general reaction to watching Claire take a watermelon to the face in the Season 17 premiere.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Played straight with Derek & Drew (Season 3) and Kami & Karli (Season 5), but averted with Shola & Doyin (Season 2), Liz & Marie (Season 19), and Elliot & Andrew (Season 20). Also applies to a couple of non-twin teams, like Danielle & Dani (Season 9), Nat & Kat (Season 17) and Misa & Maiya (Season 20).
  • There Was a Door: The third Pit Stop of Season 5 was located on a small island, which Kami & Karli swam to. Upon arriving, they were told by Phil "That was quite an entrance. Everyone else just walked through the shallow water over there."
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Kynt & Vyxsin (12 & 18), although they are actually the same height. In Unfinished Business, they comment on how they share clothes because of this. However, in one leg Vyxsin was able to pull the ailing Kynt along in a luggage cart faster than he could walk (see Game-Breaking Injury above).
  • Title Drop: It seems required that someone say, "Amazing," at least Once an Episode. And while most of the episode titles are just random lines said by the racers, others are significant enough to become Title Drops as well. Such as:
    • "Follow That Plane!" (Wil, Season 2, Episode 11); After losing their clue, Tara & Wil direct their charter plane to follow Chris & Alex by using this line. Later in the leg, Chris & Alex tail Tara & Wil to the Finish Line, and pass them up in a footrace.
    • "Good Doing Business With You" (Dustin, Season 11, Episode 10); Dustin & Kandice buy Danny & Oswald's Yield (the last Yield ever used). Danny & Oswald later act like it was a Deal with the Devil, and seem to lose any and all heart to win the race.
    • "It Starts With an “F”, That’s All I’m Saying" (Dan, Season 15, Episode 10); the infamous "Franz" incident, where Dan refuses to help Big Easy at the Roadblock, and Big Easy ends up taking a four hour penalty instead.
    • "They Don't Call It The Amazing Race For Nothin!" (Brook, Season 17, Episode 1); counts as both a regular Title Drop, as well as providing the title for that episode.
    • "Tastes Like a Million Dollars" (Kat, Season 17, Episode 5); vegetarian Kat eats half of a sheep's head to win the Fast Forward, and it took on a whole lot more meaning after the finale.
  • Token Minority: A handful of teams every season.
    • Season 10 is the one exception, as 8 of the 12 teams could be considered a minority in one way or another.
  • Token Romance: Brian & Greg with Megan & Heidi on Season 7, Eric & Jeremy with Danielle & Dani on Season 9, and Dallas and Starr on Season 13.
  • Too Clever by Half: Rob (7 & 11) definitely had a talent for racing, but on Season 7 he decided to screw with other players by making them think there was an earlier flight. While he gloated about sending them into a panicked search for a nonexistent flight, they found one.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While not a bad team on Season 14, Kisha & Jen were clearly a step behind the likes of Tammy & Victor, Margie & Luke, and Jaime & Cara, and were most memorable for needing life jackets to complete a swimming task, and getting eliminated when Jen stopped to pee. On Unfinished Business, despite the tougher competition, they ran a much better race (this time beating both Jaime & Cara and Margie & Luke on their way to winning), and didn't even flinch when they were faced with an underwater Roadblock in the finale.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The final episode of Unfinished Business was a two-hour finale with two legs - the last elimination leg and then the final leg of the race. One of the trailers CBS aired for the finale, however, showed all of the teams but one in the final destination city, leading a number of viewers to guess (correctly), that the team in question was eliminated in the penultimate leg.
    • The Season 20 premiere, instead of featuring the normal, "Next week on The Amazing Race," instead featured a preview for the entire upcoming season, including scenes from the 7th episode, the 8th, the 10th, and even the finale. It became fairly obvious that certain teams were safe until those scenes aired.
  • Train Escape: In the Season 6 finale, fan favorites Kris & Jon were less than a minute behind Freddy & Kendra when running to the Finish Line, until they got held up at a railway crossing, giving Freddy & Kendra the victory.
  • Trash Talk: An integral part of Flight Time & Big Easy's game, what with being Globetrotters and all. Used most notably against Mika at the top of the water slide in Season 15, and against Kent & Vyxsin during the chocolate Gnome Roadblock in Season 18. It failed them in the Season 18 finale when Kisha & Jen (college basketball players themselves) just ignored them.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Kami & Karli (5) used this to their advantage when begging for money.
  • Twinkle Smile: Used almost seemingly as parody in at least two episodes.
  • Two Men, One Dress: The cow costumes teams were forced to don in Season 13. They then had to run all around Almaty, Kazakhstan wearing them.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Danny & Oswald (2 & 11) who were Latino and gay.
    • Seasons 14 and 18 had both Luke (deaf and gay) and Kisha (black and gay).
    • Season 16 winner Jordan was both gay and Jewish.
    • Season 19 had Justin (black and gay).
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Played straight for the first 12 seasons, as whatever team was built up to be the invincible favorites going into the Top 4, whether or not they were that much stronger than the other teams, always ended up falling short. It happened to Dustin & Kandice twice in a row.
    • Inverted in Seasons 13-15, as the obvious favorite won when the underdog team(s) choked away their lead on the final puzzle, only to return to playing it straight on Season 16.
    • They tried to play it straight again on Season 17, by attempting to make Jill & Thomas look like the heavy favorites going into the final leg. However, the general view at that point tended to be that all the teams were pretty much even, and they all had a good chance at winning.
    • Played straight again on Seasons 18 and 19, with Zev & Justin and Andy & Tommy looking unbeatable, only to suffer Shocking, albeit heavily foreshadowed, Eliminations.
    • Averted in Season 20.
  • Prize Letdown: Sometimes when leg prizes aren't trips or money, such as boats or dune buggies, they end up going to a team that has absolutely no use for them. Like when Charla & Mirna won a pair of catamarans on Season 11, and started celebrating before realizing they didn't know what a catamaran was, or when Season 16's Dan & Jordan told Phil they would never use the scooters they had just won.
    • Averted in Season 18, where Snapple was a sponsor. It appeared the prize was solely to taste two new Snapple flavors, and then Phil revealed they were also getting a feast that night, a private Bollywood-style performance, and a million rupees (or roughly $20,000 cash).
  • Unwinnable By Mistake: Season 1, three teams were essentially eliminated on leg nine, as poor course design made it impossible for the two teams who technically did survive to ever catch up to the lead pack. This was fixed in later seasons with the introduction of deliberate equalizers. This has not stopped some fans from complaining about equalizers ruining the game.
  • Values Dissonance: The female teams are often treated quite badly in India. It took Nancy & Emily (Season 1) one and a half hours to buy train tickets there, and Tian & Jaree (Season 4) complained about being groped during a very crowded train ride there.
  • Villain Ball: Rob carried this throughout Season 7. Was there any reason for him to pass up Brian & Greg's flipped over car without even slowing down? Or how about taunting Gretchen & Meredith with (what he thought was) a non-existent earlier flight? No, but he did it anyway, and it earned him enough hatred and distrust from the other teams that it carried over into All-Stars.
  • Villainous Breakdown: On Season 5, Colin & Christie, after being dominant for eight straight legs, got Yielded on leg 11. Colin did not take it very well, leading into the infamous "My ox is broken" breakdown at the Detour. They survived because of a non-elimination leg, but Colin made several mistakes over the next two legs that led to them losing the race, mistakes that both he and the other teams believed he never would have made before the Yield.
  • Visible Boom Mic: The show is usually very careful about editing the show to hide any trace of the camera and sound team following along with each team of Racers, but sometimes they get caught in shots anyway.
    • In Season 4, leg 2, the teams are packed into a crowded alley, and it became all but impossible for the cameramen to avoid each other.
    • In Season 5, leg 8, after Colin changes the spare tire on his cab, the sound guy can be seen getting back into the cab with them.
    • The infamous scene in Season 6 where Jonathan shoved his wife Victoria in a fit of rage at a Pit Stop showed a cameraman in the frame.
    • In Season 7, when Brian & Greg flipped their car, all pretense got dropped as both Brian & Greg and Lynn & Alex's camera crews got each other on camera.
    • At Season 19's 8th Pit Stop, a fan can be seen taking pictures of teams running up to the mat.
    • In Season 20, leg 7, during the fight between Brendon & Rachel and Art & JJ and Vanessa & Ralph at the Nairobi airport, shots of various cameramen can be seen as they angle to get shots of everyone's faces.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kevin & Drew from Season 1 were made of this trope.
  • We're Not Here To Make Friends
    • As eloquently stated by Rachel in their final leg of Season 17:

Rachel: "Katie and I are on this race to win. It's a race. It's a competition. This is not Amazing Friends. It's Amazing Race. We will do what it takes to win."

    • Rachel (of Brendon & Rachel, Season 20) invoked this in her team introduction speech, despite having previously won Big Brother.
      • Invoked yet again later in the season by yet another Rachel (this one of Rachel & Dave). Even stranger in that they actually ended up winning the season.
  • What a Drag: Early in Season 10, Kandice was thrown from her horse, and was dragged for several seconds before her foot came free from the stirrup.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Both racers and fans are guilty of this one. It's understandable for a team to overreact when they're Yielded or U-Turned (though Eric calling Dustin & Kandice "Dirty Pirate Hookers" was probably going too far), but there are those who are willing to vilify a team simply for copying another team's flight arrangements or, even worse, having a "bad attitude".
    • Everything Joe & Bill did on Season 1 (outside of attempting to block security to prevent three teams from making their plane) falls into this. Everything else "evil" they did is now considered basic strategy.
    • The Season 16 finale is probably the single biggest example of this trope the Race has ever seen. Specifically, not many had a real strong opinion of brothers Dan & Jordan prior to the finale, that was until they cut in front of fan favorites Jet & Cord at the Shanghai Airport. Most Jet & Cord fans (especially casual fans) let lose the cries of, "Cheaters!" and decried the show for letting two such heinous villains cheat their way to victory, while others simply realized that the cutting in line was of no real benefit to Dan & Jordan outside of throwing the Cowboys off their game (What really won them the game was a combination of taking the initiative to move up to first class during the flight to San Francisco, and Jet & Cord completely falling apart during the Industrial Light & Magic task). Some were still complaining about it a year later when Jet & Cord returned for Unfinished Business, not that the show itself helped matters, as "Dan & Jordan cutting in line" was repeatedly cited as the main reason for Jet & Cord losing.
    • In Season 20, JJ frequently bitched and moaned about other racers taking certain actions, acting personally offended when they didn't do what he liked. The "high" point has to be when he and Art talked to Rachel & Dave about U-Turning Brendon & Rachel; but when the opportunity came up Rachel & Dave declined on grounds that it would be wasted with Nary & Jamie so far behind. Art & JJ were able to use the U-Turn on Brendon & Rachel themselves, but JJ still acted like Rachel & Dave had broken some sacred contract.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The Weaver Family (8) had recently lost their dad in an auto racing accident, so of course there were not one, but two challenges that took place on race courses that season.
    • Mika (15) was afraid of both water and heights, and so she was eliminated when she refused to go down a waterslide.
    • Nat & Kat (17) both had to face their fears in the same episode. Nat had to deal with her fear of heights, while vegetarian Kat had to eat half a sheep's head to win the Fast Forward. Nat had to deal with heights again later in the season finale.
  • With Us or Against Us: How Art & JJ managed to alienate all the other teams on Season 20, even Mark & Bopper, a team they gave $5,000 (half of the leg 4 prize) to. After the big brouhaha at the Nairobi airport, in which Art & JJ first tried to bully Brendon & Rachel, then Nary & Jamie (the two teams Mark & Bopper spent most of their down time with), JJ, in a deleted scene, gave Mark & Bopper an ultimatum about who they were hanging with, in which he quoted the trope name. On the next leg, they used the same reasoning on Rachel & Dave, after Rachel & Dave decided not to U-Turn Brendon & Rachel.
  • Worthy Opponent: Rob Mariano (7 & 11), when doing interviews for All-Stars, stated that he considered Colin (5) this, as he wanted to see which one of them was the better racer, and that the only way he'd ever be on the show again is if he got to face off against Colin. He also said this about Uchenna & Joyce at the Elimination Station, after getting beaten by them for a second time.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Season 7. Can it really be called a "race around the world" if you head east, then do a 180 in India and head back west?
    • Some of the racers also need to brush up on vocabulary:

Matt (season 15): Are you a candelabra?
Vicki (season 17): Are you a battlement?

  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Used on the racers themselves in Seasons 7, 8, 9, 14, 18, and 19. The teams get a clue telling them to go to mat and find Phil, only to have him tell them that they're still racing, and hand them their next clue.

Foreign Versions

  • Action Girl: Sam & Renae (Australia 1), the only females to make the top 4 on a course clearly suited for strong male competitors. They were only the second team in the entire series to beat the "Marked for Elimination" penalty without a Fast Forward, coming in first after placing last the previous leg, despite the fact that they also had another penalty under their belts on the same leg.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: Sarah (Australia Season 2), a 32-year-old, showed up to the starting line dressed like a teenager in a low cut shirt, a short skirt, and heels. Could just be plain Inappropriate Dress as no woman in her right mind has ever worn a skirt or heels on the Race, regardless of age.
  • Ambiguous Gender: AD & Fuzzie, Asia Season 3. At first glance, they look like two male friends competing. But they are actually females.
  • Anticlimax: The finale of Asia's fourth season was one. One of the teams was on a flight that arrived hours after the other two teams, and half-way through the episode the team that was in second quit the Roadblock and took a 4-hour penalty.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Australia Season 1, the things that set off the other racers about Richard & Joey? First and foremost, for most of the teams, was the fact that they were annoying and demeaning to the locals of whatever country they visited. But to Mo & Mos? The fact that Joey accidentally took one of their pens.
  • Baby Talk: Joey (Australia 1) had an annoying habit of talking this way to non-English speakers, as if it would make them understand better. Instead, it came off as demeaning.
  • Badass Grandpa: Jeff (Australia 1), 60 years old, thrived on a very physically intensive season (though not so much on the mental tasks).
  • Brother-Sister Team: Daichi & Sawaka (Asia Season 2), Henry & Bernie (Asia Season 3), Ryot & Liberty (Australia 1), and Joseph & Grace (Australia 2).
  • Book Ends: The Norwegian version began and ended at Holmenkollbakken in Oslo.
  • The Cameo: Paula, a contestant from Asia Season 2 was the greeter of the first leg of Amazing Race Asia 3.
    • Geoff from Asia Season 3 did have an appearance in Amazing Race Asia 2. He is known as "Sam" even though Marc called him Geoff. Still not convinced? Check out this vid: around 8:29.
    • Rick from the first season of China Rush handed out clues in a Roadblock in China Rush 2.
  • The Casanova: Shay & Guy's (Israel) plan for the race during their introduction was to flirt with the many female teams in competition.
  • Cassandra Truth: In Australia Season 1, two different teams tried giving advice to Sam & Renae but due to the vague instructions, the girls were convinced that the other teams were trying to get them eliminated.
  • Catchphrase Spouting Duo: Richard & Joey from Australia Season 1. "Focus, Believe, Achieve!"
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Some teams in the Brazilian version gave married couple Perri & Maristela the nickname "Mr. and Mrs. Bean" due to Perri's resemblance to Rowan Atkinson.
  • Crazy Consumption: Michelle from Asia Season 4, she started to act very loony and twitchy as she consumes the live witchetty grub.
  • Cutting the Knot: When Nathan (Australia 1) grew tired of digging through a mine cart full of salt, looking for a key, he just tipped the cart over and sifted through it that way.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Zabrina and Joe Jer, from the first season of the Asian version of the race, were considered underdogs, not athletic, never won a leg and were lucky to be saved by a non-elimination leg. They then excelled in the final leg and became both the first female team to win the race, and the first team to win the race without winning a previous leg, even by Fast Forward.
  • Determinator: Sharon, on the "dig through sand until you find a mini surfboard" Roadblock in Asia Season 1, Episode 3. She kept on digging long after the sun had set and all the other teams had left or given up, telling her teammate Melody that even if they were definitely in last place, she just wanted to finish this task, no matter how long it took. Unlike with Lena from US Season 6, this paid off for her in the end as she finally found the surfboard well into the night and overnight bunching enabled her and Melody to catch up to the other teams and pass those who had given up on the task and taken the 4-hour penalty. (They finished 3rd for that leg, out of 9.) Their efforts are best summed up in this exchange:

Melody: "If we leave now, we give up now, we're-we're the last team."
Sharon: "If I-you know if we got eliminated today, because...we didn't give it our best shot? Ugh...I couldn't take that."

  • Dramatic Pause: Like Phil Keoghan, Asia host Allan Wu does this in his narration and his appearances at the end of each episode telling contestants whether they're eliminated or not.
  • Down to the Last Play: Though the finales in all three seasons of the Latin American version have been pretty close, the second season has the record of being the closest of all the versions of the show. It ended with a boat race and then a sprint to the finish line with only a few yards separating the two teams.
  • Dumb Blonde: Subverted: Suspected Dumb Blondes Renae & Sam powered through the first leg of Australia Season 1, overtaking an overwhelming number of more physically imposing teams, and eventually snagged a first place finish. Come the final four, they were the only females left on the race, and beaten the rarely defeated "Marked For Elimination" penalty.
    • Hadas & Inbal (Israel Season 1) were generally a subversion, but the results of their first task almost played the trope absolutely straight. To explain, during the safari drive task of the first leg, instead of tying their log to the towing hook like everyone else did, they actually tied it to the truck, and to make sure it didn't fall off, they double and triple knotted it; cue them falling from 1st place to 4th place when they try everything they can to get it off, including trying to untie it unsuccessfully, burn the rope, cut it with their leg razors, and eventually smashing a mirror they had with them and using a shard to cut the rope. They lampshaded their stupidity only moments after leaving the task.
  • Enemy Mine: In Asia Season 1, during the second half of the double leg in India, every single team decided to Yield Andy & Laura when they had the chance, mainly in retaliation to the incident mentioned below and other intentional efforts to sabotage the other teams, such as hiding maps at airports, and having the audacity to try and run the race without making friends.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Matt & Tom (Australia 1) failed to notice that, during the money-counting task in Indonesia, they had dropped one of the money notes, and only discovered this when Dave picked it up for them. This cost them a few places.
    • Also from Australia Season 1: In Prague, Tyler & Nathan's taxi pulled up right next to the clue box, which they failed to notice.
  • Foreshadowing: At the end of each episode of Asia Season 4, they would innocently show the advertisements of the newly built Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore. As the promo for the final episode rolled in, clips of the promo all point to the resort. Eventually, the final tasks and the finish line all ended at the Marina Bay Sands.
  • Global Ignorance: On leg 2 of Australia Season 1, Matt asked where to get bus tickets from Indonesia to Vietnam.
    • In Australia Season 1, episode 8, Sam asked if Poland was near Antarctica.
  • Good Is Boring: Jeff & Luke of Australia Season 1.
  • Granola Girl: Sue & Teresa of Australia Season 2.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The credits of the Brazil version had some.
  • Hot Amazon: In episode 8 of Australia Season 1, Renae got frustrated herding sheep into a pen, so she just picked them up and lifted them over the side of the pen.
  • Hot Dad: Luke of Australia Season 1's Jeff & Luke isn't that bad looking for a 30-year-old father. Sam & Renae seemed to notice this too.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ivan & Hilda of Asia Season 4 exhibit this, with Ivan being a huge specimen from Hungary, compared to his wife, a shrill-voiced Malaysian Woman.
  • Humiliation Conga: In their second-to-last leg in Australia Season 1, Richard & Joey shaved their heads to win a Fast Forward, then in the next leg dropped from first to last after getting their car bogged in a mud pit, Richard hammered his own thumb during a building Detour, they were U-Turned, and finally got a stubborn goat that cost them the race.
  • Informed Ability: Matt's (Australia 1) ability to shoot. Apparently he's been shooting things since the age of four, but he performed poorly on the skeet shooting Detour, and was the only contestant to use all his arrows on the archery Roadblock without completing the task, and had to resort to begging the other teams for their unused arrows.
    • Paul (Australia 2) has an IQ that apparently places him in the top percentile of Australia, and boasted that he was the alpha male of the season, yet he had a complete and utter breakdown at the last task before the Pit Stop, which involved putting a raft together, to the point where he and Steve got to the task first, yet their first raft fell apart, Paul tried to get Steve to take a penalty, then they went back to the beginning of the task to build another raft, ended up leaving the beach last, and barely overtook Lucy & Emilia, a pair of relatively out-of-shape teachers who left only a few minutes before them.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged:
    • Adrian, Asia Season 2, was deaf.
    • Sticky, Australia Season 2, was born without his left forearm.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: In Australia Season 1, Blonde models Renae & Sam and married bikers Dave & Kelly.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Andy and Laura, Asia Season 1 suffered from this. During the first-half of the double-leg in India, Andy & Laura stole a Taxi cab from Sandy & Francesca while they were doing their task. However, towards the very end of the double-leg, Andy & Laura called in a taxi to take them to the pit-stop. Just when they thought that the taxi cab was approaching them, it stopped where Zabrina & Joe Jer was standing and took the girls instead. Ultimately, that's what got the couple eliminated.
    • Richard & Joey managed to piss everyone else off in the early legs of Australia Season 1. In South Africa, their four wheel drive got bogged, allowing all the other teams to pass them, and consequently Tyler & Nathan to U-Turn them. Even though they managed to catch up to Mo & Mos, the goat they needed to take to the witch-doctor didn't want to move, resulting in them coming last and being eliminated.
  • Leitmotif: Hannah & Margalit of Israel Season 1 had their own Klezmer-style theme.
  • Loophole Abuse: In the Australia Season 2 premiere, when teams were tasked with building a raft to row themselves to the Pit Stop, Lucy & Emilia were the only ones who realized that the clue did not specify that teams could not ask for help building their rafts.
  • Man On Fire: In Israel Season 2, there was a Roadblock where teams had to do a stunt which involved being set on fire.
  • Mrs. Robinson: In Australia Season 2, Sarah (age 32) & James (age 23) had been dating on and off for 3 years. Joseph & Grace initially thought they were a mother/son team.
  • Non Gameplay Elimination: Dave & Kelly (Australia 1) were subject to the Field Elimination after falling very far behind the other teams in Israel.
    • Hannah & Margalit of the Israeli version were forced to quit the race after Margalit suffered a severe abdominal infection in leg 5 and was rushed to hospital. She recovered soon after they were removed from competition, and thus were able to return for the finale.
    • Perri & Maristela of the Brazilian version, despite being the strongest team in the season, quit the mandatory eating task in the finale resulting in them being disqualified, reasoning that the cold temperature and number of times they were vomiting wasn't worth it.
  • Oh Crap: In the second leg of Asia Season 4, Ivan & Hilda arrive at the pitstop location before any other team. Hilda, being her usual bubbly self, doesn't want to run because her legs are sore, so the two walk along the pier where the pitstop is located. Behind them, arriving almost a minute later, are Richard & Richard, who observe the married couple "strolling romantically down the pier" and bolt. Upon seeing the two behind them, Hilda says the trope, and it turns into a footrace for first place. Ivan & Hilda win.
  • One-Hit Kill: Averted. Suinana & Dimple from Asia Season 4 were the first team in Amazing Race history to be U-Turned (excluding the Double U-Turn) and survive. Even though they were expected to get U-Turned by Michelle & Claire, they were actually glad that they get to do the other task near the Nevis Highwire and thanked them for it.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, Asia Season 4 had a team whose names are Richard & Richard, Latin America Season 1 had a mother/daughter team who were both named Casilda, and Latin America Season 2 had a father/son team both named Edison.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Sticky (Australia 2).
  • Out of Focus: In Australia Season 1, Jeff & Luke seem to get the least amount of airtime of all the teams at any given stage of the race, despite making the Final 3.
  • Product Placement: The Asian edition is known to make a lot of product placing. Many of the miscellaneous tasks require teams to use a brand-product provided by their sponsors just to do a task or go to another destination. For example, one team member had to take a picture of another team member doing the roadblock or locals singing a traditional song while another team member is recording using a cam-corder.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: All of Australia Season 1's Final 3 teams were blindsided by the Final Exam Finale flag Roadblock in the finale leg, despite it being similar to a rather notable task in US Season 9's finale. The teams even admitted to not bothering to take note of the flags, and struggled enough that any team who had bothered to take notes (a common strategy in the US metagame) probably would have easily won the race.
  • Sequel Escalation: The Israeli version. While the first season was fairly standard, the second season had more challenging tasks (the very first thing teams had to do at was climb rope ladders to their cars which were each suspended by cranes) but was also longer both to the racers (13 legs compared to 10) and to the viewers (28 compared to 20. There was even one episode that was entirely devoted to the teams getting from the final clue to the Pit Stop!)
  • Shocking Elimination: Jess & Lani, Asia Season 4, were the clear frontrunners going into the penultimate leg, only to fall victim to No Sense of Direction in South Korea and fall hours behind the other teams, after which they were subsequently eliminated.
  • Shopping Montage: Jess & Lani, Asia Season 4. According to the recap episode, Jess & Lani used their begging and flirting skills to get money just to buy wardrobe. Let's just say they have done this pretty much most the legs.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Averted with Nicolás & Cristóbal (Latin America 3), Frank & Ivar (Norge), and Michelle & Jo (Australia 2).
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Howard & Sahran, Asia Season 1 had their focus entirely on facing their phobias. With the exception of the road block where Howard was required to dive in deep water with the sea animals in Australia, he overcame his fear-inducing tasks without any problems. His partner on the other hand....
    • At the start of the race, Sahran had a list of phobias. He's afraid of snakes, deep water, public bathrooms and finally heights. During the interview, his childhood trauma of being stuck in a coconut tree had scarred him for life. Well, during their entire duration of their race, Sahran rappelled down from an 8-story building mall in Malaysia, grabbed the clue from a cage full of Anacondas in Indonesia and finally he rock-climbed a cliff at Thailand. As a result, lots of crying ensued. But, hey, at least he did the tasks without quitting.
  1. The network didn't get the Amazing Race trademark until the China Rush
  2. And in the American version, during the first season, a few teams got caught too far behind because of factors outside their control, resulting in the race becoming Unwinnable By Mistake