ABC; FOX; CBS
ABC; FOX; CBS
Some reality TV eliminations you can see coming from a mile away. Whether we've grown savvy to editing tricks, using them for clues, or the contested performance is just so plainly horrible that the bigger shock would be if the contestant in question managed to squeak by, it's not often rocket science to deduce who's getting the boot.
But every now and then, an elimination on our favorite reality shows comes along that's so shocking that we're left sitting as #blindsided as the eliminated party. The latest example of this being, of course, Heather Morris' stunning elimination from season 24 of Dancing With the Stars, which came for the Glee alum and former Beyoncé back-up dancer in only week six and almost immediately after she more than earned the season's first perfect score. To say that the crowd in the ballroom, judges included, were outraged by the cut is an understatement.
But Heather's hardly the only person to have an elimination come seemingly out of nowhere, their time in their respective competition cut short. And you know what they say, misery loves company. These are reality TV's most shocking eliminations.
Sabrina Bryan—Dancing With the Stars, season five
Long before Heather, there was another trained dancer and TV musical star in the DWTS cast who got the boot way before anyone expected her to. Cheetah Girls star Sabrina Bryan and her partner Mark Ballas were season five's clear front-runners—they earned the highest week one score ever and they were the first to ever earn a perfect score by week four—but, much to the dismay of basically everyone involved, they were surprisingly eliminated in week six. (Sound familiar?)
In season 15, Sabrina was voted by fans to compete as one of the All-Star contestants and, despite earning another perfect score with new partner Louis Van Amstel, history repeated itself and she was eliminated sixth—exactly five years to the day from her first elimination.
Jennifer Hudson—American Idol, season three
Perhaps the most retrospectively infamous elimination in reality TV history, the future Oscar winner found herself in the bottom three more often than not during the third season of the Fox juggernaut until she was abruptly eliminated as the top seven became top six. Some chalked her elimination up to a power outage in her Chicago hometown, while week nine mentor Elton John went on record to say that he felt the fact that she was constantly in the bottom three was "incredibly racist."
Chris Daughtry—American Idol, season five
What happens when fans just assume their favorite is a lock for the finals and fail to vote? Chris Daughtry learned the hard way when he was surprisingly eliminated just before the final week. American learned the hard way, too, when we were stuck with Taylor Hicks as our winner. Daughtry got the last laugh, however, becoming the most successful recording artist from his season. Take that, Soul Patrol!
Pia Toscano—American Idol, season 10
The clear front-runner for her season, Pia had never been in the bottom three even once before she was shockingly eliminated, finishing in ninth place. "I'm shocked. I'm angry. I don't know what to say," judge Jennifer Lopez, a major Pia supporter, told the crowd as she struggled to hold back tears.
Keith Michael—Project Runway, season three
After winning the first week of competition, cementing his status as the season's front-runner, Keith left fans and fellow designers stunned as it was discovered in week four that he was in the possession of pattern-making textbooks, as well as fashion history books, and had left production unattended for several hours, during which time he used the internet. As both were clear violations of the show's rules, Keith was immediately asked to leave the show, becoming the first contestant in Project Runway's history to find themselves disqualified.
Rachel Crow—The X-Factor, season one
When the adorable 13-year-old Rachel, a favorite to win the inaugural season of Simon Cowell's short-lived second act on Fox, found herself in the bottom two in week seven, we were granted one of the most gripping eliminations in recent reality TV history. Judge Nicole Scherzinger found herself unable to make the decision over whether Rachel or her final showdown competitor, Marcus Canty, should go home, so she sent the judges into deadlock, forcing the show to revert to the loser in the earlier public vote. When it was revealed that Rachel had earned less votes, she fell to the floor in hysterics, saying "You promised me" to her mom, who'd jumped on stage to console her. Similarly, Nicole burst into tears, as well, but no one consoled her. Instead, she was fired from the show at the end of the season.
Kristin Kish—Top Chef, season 10
After racking up four wins, making her the season's clear front-runner, Kristen fell victim to the fabled Restaurant Wars and was eliminated after she took on her team's dessert—always a Top Chef contestant's Achilles heel—failed to impress. Even more shockingly, however, we went to Last Chance Kitchen, dominated week after week, and returned to the competition to take on Brooke Williamson in an Iron Chef-style arena, where she became the first chef to win three of the five rounds, ultimately leaving the season victorious.
Tiffany Richardson—America's Next Top Model, cycle four
A reality TV moment that will forever live on in infamy. When Tiffany and fellow aspiring model Rebecca Epley found themselves on the chopping block, host Tyra Banks stunned everyone by turning over a blank page rather than the head shot of the woman spared for another week. As both contestants began to react to their dual elimination differently (Rebecca, in tears; Tiffany, trying to lighten the mood), Tyra called them back to let Tiffany know she wasn't feeling how she was handling the news. Say it with us now: "I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!"
Erik Reichenbach—Survivor: Micronesia
In perhaps the dumbest move in Survivor history, Erik—competing as a fan in the season's "fans vs. favorites" conceit—allowed himself to be convinced on day 36 that he was so safe at tribal council, he didn't even need the individual immunity he'd won by the Black Widow alliance. So what did he do? He handed over his hard-won immunity necklace to Natalie Bolton and then was immediately voted out.
Ben Flajnik—The Bachelorette, season seven
When Bachelorette Ashley Hebert let Ben get so far into his proposal that he was already down on one knee before she eliminated him, he and fans alike were stunned by the rather heartless way she waited so long for breaking the bad news. "You can't leave something like this on good terms. It's not possible," he told her, before walking away. As a consolation prize, ABC made Ben the star of The Bachelor's sixteenth season.
DeAnna Pappas—The Bachelor, season 11
When DeAnna found out that Jenni Croft, her last remaining competitor in the battle for Brad Womack's heart, had been eliminated, she believed she was about to get a proposal. Instead, she became part of Bachelor history when Brad revealed he was rejecting them both. For her troubles, DeAnna was chosen for season four of The Bachelorette.
Marcellas Reynolds—Big Brother, season three
In what could be the dumbest move in Big Brother history, Marcellas won the Power of Veto, but decided not to use it on himself when he found himself on the block next to his best friend in the house, Amy Crews. Just minutes later, a tiebreaker vote led to his eviction and he left the house as stunned by his foolishness as fans watching at home were. Host Julie Chen even greeted him with a smack upside the head. Unbelievable.
Which elimination do you think was the most shocking? Sound off in the comments below!