Top 10 Shocking Twists on RuPaul's Drag Race

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: B Stevenson
"RuPaul's Drag Race" is full of shocking twists. For this list, we'll be looking at the most impactful change-ups to the rules and format of this reality competition series. Our countdown includes double sashays, a jury of their queers, production shutdown, and more!

Top 10 Shocking Twists on RuPaul's Drag Race

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking Twists on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most impactful change-ups to the rules and format of this reality competition series. However, we’ll only be counting U.S. and U.K. seasons.

Which of these twists was a total game changer? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: The Chocolate Bars

Perhaps the most shocking part of Season 14 was the sheer number of non-eliminations. The second most shocking part? The number of times we heard the words “it’s chocolate.” This candy-themed twist was responsible for the installment’s wildest double save. At the beginning of the season, one queen randomly received an immunity-granting golden treat. But in episode after episode, the losing queen was out of luck when it came time to unwrap the sweet. The twist finally came to fruition on the heels of Bosco barely surviving the lip sync smackdown. The talented queen underperformed in the rusical challenge, and lost her face-off against Jorgeous. After a season full of chocolate, it was oh-so-gratifying to see the golden bar at a pivotal moment.

#9: Production Shutdown

“Drag Race” queens are notoriously sequestered from the outside world during filming. However, certain situations just can’t help but to affect production. Midway through the U.K.’s sophomore season, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a months-long break in the competition. Unsurprisingly, this dramatic turn of events had myriad effects on the race. Most obviously, Veronica Green could not return due to having caught the virus. The break was certainly a financial challenge for the queens, but it did allow some competitors time to up their game. For instance, Bimini Bon-Boulash returned with new confidence and polish as the megastar we know today. The shutdown was an unfortunate occurrence, but it did make for a truly unique season.

#8: Double Sashays

Since Carmen Carrera and Yara Sofia’s Season 3 showdown, we’ve known that saving both bottom queens was an option for Ru. However, the idea of keeping neither lip syncer wasn’t introduced until later. In Season 5, no one expected a performance so lackluster it would send both participants packing. Unfortunately for them, Vivenne Pinay and Honey Mahogany went where no queens had gone before. In Season 8, meanwhile, Dax ExclamationPoint and Laila McQueen both got the chop after failing to embody a gay anthem. But it isn’t just U.S. queens who need to worry about the dreaded double sashay. As we found out in “UK” Season 3, their sisters across the pond aren’t immune, either.

#7: The Bottom Six Lip Sync

In terms of disappointing challenges, was there anything quite like the Mariah Carey-themed “Diva Worship” program? This group performance from Season 11 was so bad, it caused Ru to place the entire team in the bottom. Instead of a standard two-way lip sync, we were treated to a six-person number that was as chaotic as you’d imagine. Sure, it was unforgettable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good idea. Season 14 delivered a different version of this twist with a seven-person lip sync smackdown after “Snatch Game.” But in terms of sheer craziness, we’d argue that Season 11’s showdown takes the cake.

#6: A Jury of Their Queers

“All Stars” Season 3 had multiple shocking moments. However, the one that arguably enraged fans the most was the method of choosing the final two. Unlike in the previous installment, this iteration saw the eliminated queens return to act as a jury. They interviewed each of the four finalists, and voted on who should advance to the climactic lip sync. To be fair, each contestant was entitled to their own opinion. However, it was clearly very unfortunate that frontrunner Shangela was barred from competing for the crown. It wasn’t exactly a surprise that the jury twist was abandoned for “All Stars” 4.

#5: The Lip Sync Premiere

Season 13 truly started off with a bang. Typically, the premiere has a bottom two like any other episode. Alternatively, there might be a top two who compete for the win like in Season 12. However, this time each and every contestant had to face off with a competitor. To make matters more stressful, these showdowns occurred mere moments after the queens entered the competition. It was a genius way to show off each queen’s performing abilities right off the bat. The stakes were somewhat undermined when it turned out that none of the losers were truly eliminated. However, there’s no question that the twist made for a shocking premiere.

#4: Lip Syncing For Your Legacy

This twist on lip syncing for one’s life is a mainstay of the “All Stars” format. However, at the time of its introduction, it made for a massive shakeup. Now, the top-performing queens would compete for the right to eliminate one of their competitors. Needless to say, this new way of doing things has had some controversial results. For instance, Naomi Smalls sending Manila Luzon packing in “All Stars” 4 is still tough to watch. It also made waves on “UK vs the World.” The eliminations of frontrunners Jimbo and Pangina Heals were felt by many to be unfair, and had a huge impact on the competition. Whether for better or for worse, this twist made “All Stars” a truly cutthroat contest.

#3: Queens Fight Their Way Back Into the Competition

On occasion, “Drag Race” contestants are brought after being eliminated for no particular reason. Much more common, however, is a challenge in which queens already sent home fight to reclaim their spot. This comeback competition has taken several different forms across the series, but all have been gag-worthy. Who could forget the mirror reveal and comedy duos challenge in “All Stars” 2? Or the secret game-within-a-game from that show’s sixth season? Perhaps the most interesting version of this twist, though, was “All Stars” 4’s LaLaPaRUza. For this challenge, if a remaining queen lost her lip sync against an eliminated foe, she’d lose her place in the competition. Sure, this didn’t end up happening — but it still made for a jaw-dropping revelation.

#2: The Top Four Lip Sync for the Crown

Season 9 proved to be a game-changing season for the all-important final episode. While several prior installments had seen a top three make it to the finale, in this case it was four queens. The reason for this soon became clear: a three-round lip sync smackdown to determine the winner. This stood in stark contrast to the individual performances we had seen in the Season 8 finale, for instance. Sasha Velour and Peppermint in particular made the very first finale tournament absolutely iconic. Arguably, the format has since suffered from an overemphasis on outfit reveals. But while it lasted, this change-up made the climactic episodes more exciting than ever.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Guest Lip Sync Assassins
Appearances by the Likes of Laganja Estranja Shook Up Seasons 5 and 6 of “All Stars”

All Stars Can Compete Multiple Times
Beginning With Season 4 of the Spinoff, We Got to See Queens for a Third Time

A Queen from the Previous Season Returns
This Twist Has Been Responsible for Some of the Show’s Most Iconic Moments

When a Queen Quits the Competition, It Always Takes Us By Surprise

#1: Competing in Teams & Sub-In Lip Syncs

Raise your hand if “All Stars” 1 was your favorite season. Yeah… we thought so. A huge part of what makes this iteration of the series so controversial is its format. The queens competed and were judged in pairs up to a certain point in the race. This made for eliminations that many fans regarded as premature, if not downright unfair. Plus, queens also lip synced in teams, with the option to press the “panic button” and sub in for their partner. We saw this option go poorly in the case of Yara Sofia and Alexis Mateo, for instance. We’re thankful these rules were abandoned for the spinoff’s second season. But they’ll go down as some of the most infamous twists in “Drag Race” her-story.