Three years after MTV struck gold with the true story of seven strangers, a new competition series rolled onto the network.
Premiering 25 years ago today, Road Rules was meant to bring together five telegenic youths for the ultimate cross-country scavenger hunt that saw them completing tasks (think: shearing sheep, spending a night gambling in Vegas) as they sought out clues as to where to pilot their shared RV next.
"We had no idea what we were doing," Access anchor Kit Hoover said in 2018 of the first season that saw she and Mark Long, Carlos "Los" Jackson, Allison Jones and Shelly Spottedhorse traveling everywhere from a circus to a nudist trailer park. "We were sponsored by Taco Bell and PowerBar. I gained over 20 pounds and I loved Budweiser....I had the time of my life."
The contestants may have just been along for the ride, but producers Jonathan Murray and Mary-Ellis Bunim very much knew they were headed toward something great. Inspiration had struck after they watched the cast of 1993's The Real World: Los Angeles travel together in an RV to their new shared digs—and their brainstorm worked.
For 13 seasons, teams of teens and twentysomethings, zig-zagged across America, Europe and the South Pacific. It wasn't until 2004, when Bunim passed following a battle with breast cancer, that the show took a pit stop. The competition series returned for one last shot—2007's Viewers Revenge—but by then the network had already found a younger, sexier replacement.
Road Rules: All Stars, featuring five Real World alum, became the precursor for what we now know as a The Challenge, the must-watch soap opera still entertaining us with its ridiculous challenges (the current Total Madness iteration had contestants purposely crash stunt cars and strap themselves to tanks, for instance) and liquor-induced dramatics.
Some 35 seasons deep, it features a mix of hungry newbies from Big Brother, Survivor, even So You Think You Can Dance and the regulars we expect to be watching eat animal brains and face Hall Brawls for decades to come.
But for every Johnny Bananas and Chris "CT" Tamburello there's a Coral Smith who hasn't slid on a Challenge t-shirt since her last appearance in Mexico on The Gauntlet III in 2008. If Long has his way, though, that will change, the Road Rules godfather campaigning for a season filled with OGs.
And while we will spend more than a small amount of time wishing this into existence, in the meantime we'll have to make due by catching up with these former stars. Check out what happened when they decided to stop having their lives taped.