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TODAY contributor

Explainer: Dumbest moves in the history of reality TV games

  • With all the scheming, plotting and over-the-top performances required for the average reality TV competition, it only makes sense that plenty of dumb moves are in the mix, too. After all, you can’t expect to see perfect plays, like those from J.T. Thomas of “Survivor: Tocantins,” without watching big blunders, like those from J.T. Thomas of “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.”

    Good thing, too. Masterful gameplay would get pretty boring without random doses of doltishness.

    Read on for a full list of reality TV’s top offenders.

  • 'Big Brother': Marcellus out!

    As far as boneheaded moves, few have been as shocking or as satisfying than the one made by “Big Brother’s” Marcellus Reynolds. In the third season of the game, Marcellus made his mark as a drama-loving backstabber who would sell out his best pal to get ahead in the game. That’s what made it so delightful when his own ego sold him out.

    Despite being up for eviction, Marcellus faced what turned out to be his final night in the house without a worry. Thanks to the Power of Veto, he knew he was safe. But somewhere along the line, Marcellus forgot the coveted veto was the thing that protected him, which is why, after delivering an eye-roll-worthy speech, Marcellus decided not to use the veto.

    The moment Marcellus’ fellow houseguests gave him the boot was TV gold, as was the follow-up moment when host Julie Chen smacked him on the back of the head for his unbelievable decision.

  • 'Survivor: Micronesia': Erik's grand gesture

    Erik Reichenbach, known to fans as the man behind the dumbest move in the history of “Survivor,” had a lot to prove during his fateful tribal council. Erik’s fellow castaways felt they could no longer trust him after he went back and forth on his alliances, and even though “Survivor” has never been about being the most upright citizen on the beach, Erik wanted to regain that trust.

    So what’s an immunity-necklace-wearing guy to do? Why, give up his sure shot into the final four by passing on his valuable piece of neckware, of course. Yes, in an effort to get back in his competitors' good graces, Erik handed his spot to someone else, expecting the others to respect his gesture and keep him in the game.

    Surpise (to no one but Erik)! They did not.

  • 'Dancing With the Stars': A trio of terrible

    While some ballroom fans might say Kate Gosselin, Bristol Palin and Marie Osmond made their worst “Dancing” moves by simply joining the competition to begin with, each hoofer hopeful outshined that unfortunate enrollment by later putting on the dumbest dances of their respective seasons.

    For multiples’ mom Kate, the paso doble gave her the opportunity show dancing fans how it’s not done on the show’s 10th season. Her literal and horrible take on Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.

    Marie found a way to disguise her bad steps and give the crowd a severe case of secondhand embarrassment in season five by simply not dancing at all during her stumbling doll freestyle.

    The most recent dumb dance decision to grace the stage came courtesy of season 11’s Bristol, who hoped to disguise her flubbed footwork with a costume catastrophe — an ape suit.

    That’s three-way tie for ladies.

  • 'Survivor: The Australian Outback': Colby gives it all away

    With 22 seasons worth of mistakes, it would be easy to fill an entire list with nothing but lamebrain “Survivor” moves, but that might get a little repetitive. After all, dumb immunity plays — such as Erik’s aforementioned mess — are practically an epidemic on the show. (See Ozzy Lusth from Erik’s season, JT’s poor showing or James Clement from “Survivor: China” for further evidence.)

    So rather than rehash all those familiar foibles, this seems like the perfect time to look back and the sure thing that never was — Colby Donaldson’s victory.

    All Colby had to do was decide to take Keith Famie to the final two. The glory would have been as good as his. But that’s not how Colby rolls. No, the tall Texan decided to play with “honor” and pick Tina Wesson, aka the sympathetic mom and obvious shoo-in. Needless to say, Colby lost in a landslide.

  • 'Biggest Loser': The temptation of Arthur

    Temptations are tricky things on “The Biggest Loser.” They always come with a perk, such a rare power in the game. And they always come at a price, namely the potential to upset other players and consume a whole lot of calories. For season 11 contestant Arthur Wornum, the most recent temptation also packed the possibility of making one really ridiculous move.

    One could argue Arthur’s first mistake was giving in to temptation at all. Considering weight loss is his primary goal, consuming 35 pieces of chocolate in three minutes didn’t do him any favors. But the big guy really messed up when he used his newly won member-swapping power to trade away the two strongest players on his team.

    Still, Arthur found a way to one-up his effort. Despite having also won the right to remain anonymous, Arthur spoke out and told his angry teammates he was the man behind the shake up.

    Though the season is still underway, so far it looks like lucky Arthur’s play won’t come back to bite him.

  • 'The Amazing Race': Rob's helpful hint

    Since serial “Survivor” Rob Mariano didn’t rank a mention for any of his castaway slipups, it seems fitting to call him out for one of his crossover goofs.

    While globetrotting with made-for-reality-TV bride Amber on “The Amazing Race,” Boston Rob was responsible for one amazing move. Unable to keep his hubris in check, Rob smugly ribbed a fellow racer about whether or not she’d found the earlier flight to Turkey. This gave Rob a good chuckle, as he knew there was no earlier flight to Turkey.

    Except, there actually was.

    Of course, no one would have known that had they not been prompted to investigate thanks to Rob’s love of mind games. In the end, he allowed two couples to beat him to Istanbul by hours.

  • 'Top Chef: All-Stars': Casey sticks her foot in it

    There are times to take culinary risks on “Top Chef,” and there are times to play it safe. Casey Thompson’s downfall came from not knowing the difference. It also came from picking a dish that required one heck of an acquired taste. Oh, and there was also the fact that she outsourced said dish.

    OK, Casey fouled up all around when she decided to go with chicken feet during the dim sum challenge — poorly cooked, slimy chicken feet. Given the fact that none of her fellow cheftestants out-grossed her with something even worse (say, some balut past its best-by date?), the dish meant the end of her second shot at “Top Chef” top honors.

    For the record, the judges unanimously declared the fowl feet inedible.

  • 'Project Runway': Gretchen wins

    Who says only contestants make stupid moves? This spot is reserved for the “Project Runway” judges who inexplicably decided Gretchen Jones was the clear winner over Mondo Guerra last season.

    Yeah. That wasn’t a bad dream. It actually happened.

    While host-plus-judge Heidi Klum and guest judge Jessica Simpson (no, really) fought the good fight for the fashion forward Mondo, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia had a sudden penchant for the granny panties and overwhelmingly brown designs of Gretchen.

    Hey, at least that explained Tim Gunn’s earlier complaints about “crack-smoking judges.”

  • 'American Idol': Chris Daughtry loses

    Who says only contestants and judges make stupid moves? Now it’s your turn, America.

    Remember the fifth season of “American Idol”? You know, the one Taylor Hicks won? Well, it didn’t have to be like that. Two weeks before Taylor won, which was about three weeks before the crooner fell back into obscurity, Chris Daughtry was the presumed vocal champ. He had style. He had a voice for rock. He had a huge fan base. What he didn’t have was the required votes to continue in the competition.

    The popular theory behind the problem is that the voting public, who’d given Daughtry the majority of their votes in weeks past, were simply so sure he’d win, they didn’t even bother to vote for him. Talk about your dumb moves!

    Ree Hines would like to award dishonorable mentions to every move made by every contestant ever on “Temptation Island,” “Flavor of Love” and “BridalPlasty.” Follow @ReeHines on Twitter and tell her your picks.

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