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Rules Every Contestant Has To Follow On The Challenge

In the early '90s, MTV debuted two of its most influential reality shows. The first was "The Real World," which follows a group of strangers from different backgrounds living together in a specific location while being filmed. The second was "Road Rules," which had a similar premise but had strangers traveling together to different locations. Alumni from both of these shows were brought together for another show, "The Challenge," where they compete against each other for money.

"The Challenge" holds the unique distinction of being the longest-running competition series on TV. Spanning over 30 seasons and lasting longer than both "The Real World" and "Road Rules," "The Challenge" eventually grew to the point where it recruited stars from other MTV reality shows and even other reality shows from outside the MTV world. The show is known for its extreme physical competitions, eliminations, beautiful locations, and high-stakes drama.

However, like every competition series, there are rules that the contestants have to follow. Here is a rundown of what "The Challenge" cast can and cannot do.

The Challenge contestants can't leave the house

"The Challenge" usually airs once or twice a year, with a normal season lasting around three to four months. Like other MTV reality shows, contestants agree to live in a house together and be filmed 24/7 in between the physical challenges. Unless contestants get eliminated, kicked off, must leave for medical reasons, or ask to leave for personal reasons, they are obligated to stay within the house.

Longtime contestant Chris "CT" Tamburello said in a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone that the producers are very strict when it comes to not leaving the house, saying that there is "very little escape." Tamburello even said that this wasn't the case in earlier seasons when production would give contestants "a day off" to relax in the real world. It can get a little boring being there for so long, made even worse when there are fewer people to live with after some get eliminated. Still, all the monotony that comes with filming is worth it when you win the grand prize in the end.

Every contestant on The Challenge gets paid

There are two types of contestants on a typical season of "The Challenge." First are the Vets, which are players who have appeared on the show before and have "earned their stripes." And then there are the Rookies, who are the new players that are normally targeted first by the Vets since it's the easiest option.

Regardless of what status a cast member is, everyone on the show does get paid. According to Us Weekly, a rookie can generally get paid an average of $1,000 a week for however long they last on the show. More experienced contestants, even if they have yet to nab an overall win, reportedly earn somewhere in the range of $3,000 to $5,000. Then there are the "elite" players, who are some of the most well-known, well-liked, or explosive personalities in the show's history. Insiders claim that those people can make up to $80,000 just for showing up. It's no wonder some of these people have made careers out of being on this show.

Contestants can get banned for breaking the rules

Even though many contestants on "The Challenge" have become series regulars, MTV still holds all the power when it comes to casting. If the network sees fit, it can outright ban contestants from ever appearing on the show again. There are several different reasons why MTV would choose to cut ties with a contestant, and those reasons aren't always made public. However, some contestants are just too problematic for the network to risk getting bad publicity over.

One of the most infamous cases includes former competitor Tonya Cooley, who sued two of her former cast members and MTV for sexual assault during the filming of "The Ruins." A private settlement was reached, but Tonya and her alleged attackers, Kenny Santucci and Evan Starkman, haven't been on the show since. A more recent example includes Dee Nguyen, who Deadline reports was released from her contract and edited out of "Total Madness" for her insensitive comments on the Black Lives Matter movement. Her words even lead to the release of a statement from MTV stating that they "strongly condemn systemic racism and stand with those speaking out against racial injustice." 

In the show's 37-season history, there have been a large number of scandalous moments that have led to cast members being dropped by production. While MTV has never been the most family-friendly network on television, "The Challenge" does appear to have some standards.

No violence against other members of the cast

One of the biggest reasons contestants get banned or thrown off the show is physical violence. Since "The Challenge" is a highly competitive game, the contestants are bound to clash outside of the actual gameplay. As the series has gone on, some of these fiery 20-something reality stars have developed long histories between each other, and their conflicts have come to a head on camera from time to time. There have been several iconic fights on the show, but some of the most memorable and volatile have ended in violence.

 "The Challenge" has kicked off or banned many people for getting a little too physical, with some of these even happening to the show's biggest and most popular players. Chris "CT" Tamburello has been kicked off the show twice, once before the filming of "The Inferno 3" and second at the beginning of "The Duel 2." "Challenge" champions Darrell Taylor and Brad Fiorenza left "The Ruins" after getting into a fistfight. In the recent season, "Spies, Lies & Allies," Fessy Shafaat and Ashley Mitchell were kicked off the show. Fessy had to leave for getting into a fight with fellow player Josh Martinez, though Ashley's reason for leaving the show was never disclosed.

No spoilers

Nobody likes spoilers, especially when it comes to something highly anticipated. "The Challenge" is no exception to being the victim of having its biggest moments from an upcoming season getting spoiled by fans. Recently, there has been an influx of fan accounts that have leaked the outcomes of some of the most recent seasons of the show, including the order of how people get eliminated and who eventually wins.

Jonathan Murray, the co-creator of "The Challenge" as well as "The Real World," "Road Rules," and several other reality shows outside of MTV, is no stranger to dealing with spoilers. In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Murray said that "the show does have fines and penalties that come into effect if they release information. And we have serious talks about it." Time will tell if "The Challenge" will ever be able to crack down on spoilers for future seasons.

Outside items will be confiscated, especially cell phones

As previously stated, cast members on "The Challenge" are required to live in a different location every season for a couple of months and are not allowed to leave unless they are eliminated or need to abandon the competition for other reasons. Downtime can get pretty boring when there are fewer people around, but as noted by Us Weekly, that can also be because contestants are not allowed to bring in outside items like cell phones into the game. Doing so can result in a severe fine from the production crew, which could total as much as $25,000.

Due to the aforementioned problem with spoilers getting leaked, it's not hard to see why this rule is in place. Production would rather have cast members focused on playing the game and causing as much drama as possible, and that cannot be achieved when contestants are busy on their phones trying to get in contact with other people.

Don't smuggle supplements, either

The physical competitions on "The Challenge" are some of the toughest you can get on a reality show, including the daily challenges that determine who is safe from elimination and the final challenges that usually last a couple of days. Many of the contestants on the show are in great shape, but staying in shape is still a top priority. Many of the houses they stay in have an indoor or outdoor gym to work out in between competitions.

However, the tools that the players can use to stay in shape are limited, as this also goes hand in hand with what the players aren't allowed to bring in from the outside world into the game. According to E Online, vitamins and supplements are not allowed in the game out of fear that using them would provide an unfair advantage during the more physical competitions.

Outside contact is allowed but limited

Even though phones aren't allowed in the house, "The Challenge" does allow some contact with the outside world. If a contestant requests it, production can allow for two 10-minute phone calls a week. This can be seen in various episodes of the series in which cast members have a talk with a significant other in a private room to help remind them of what they are fighting for, which can even include one of their children if they have them. Some of the more recent seasons have even included video calls as well.

The same Us Weekly article discussing the confiscation of cell phones due to the problem with spoilers and leaks, all phone calls that cast members make to other people are screened by production. However, considering that many seasons get spoiled anyway, "The Challenge" production team needs to do a lot better.

The different conditions for buying food and alcohol

When the cast members on "The Challenge" aren't competing in physical challenges or plotting against each other to find ways to eliminate them, they are usually partying or drinking either in the house or at a local club or restaurant in one of those rare instances the players can go out. When it comes to food and alcohol, the former is usually provided by production as much as possible. However, the latter is a bit more restricted.

When outside of the house or inside, contestants are limited on what they're allowed to drink and must pay for it themselves if there is a tab. Even with these restrictions, some of the most volatile and outrageous fights and moments on "The Challenge" resulted from the contestants getting a little too tipsy. And it's these moments when production would usually step in and separate the cast members in case something bad happens.

No excessive drinking

"The Challenge" has changed a lot over the years, as many different rules and regulations have been put in place to avoid too much controversy. Recently, the drinking on the show has come under much more scrutiny from production. Recurring cast member Cory Wharton revealed to US Weekly that the show's recent season, "Spies, Lies and Allies," made it much harder to drink excessively.

According to Wharton, each of the contestants was given drink tickets, "so once you ran out of your drink tickets, there were no more drinks for you." Wharton wasn't really warm to the idea and hoped they "can find a better system," especially considering that the cast "got a little wild one night or a couple of nights," so the tickets clearly didn't work. It seems that no matter how many restrictions MTV tries to put out there to stop drinking, some things never change.

Don't show up drunk to a daily challenge

Drinking and partying on "The Challenge" can be fun, but MTV wants everyone to take the physical competitions as seriously as possible. In a Rolling Stone interview, CT stated that drinking on the show is even more restrictive before contestants are supposed to travel to the next daily challenge. Showing up drunk to a daily challenge is a big no-no for production, as an impaired contestant poses a serious liability for the team.

When you see the kind of daily challenges these competitors do, you can see why. Some of these daily challenges include maneuvering on top of large moving trucks, diving deep down into freezing water, running for miles across vast deserts or mountains, or even just dangling from harnesses over large buildings. Several contestants have left the game because they got injured during these challenges, and those injuries could only get worse if alcohol was involved.