Big Brother is an unfair game. Look back at any past season and there will be a couple of Houseguests every season who could’ve gone much further had it not been for one unexpected mistake that sent them packing. Today, we acknowledge the contestants who would’ve advanced beyond where they placed and maybe even won had it not been for a key moment.
To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a list highlighting Houseguests who should’ve won Big Brother. With that said, I think there’s a case to be made that all of these players could’ve done much better had it not been for one thing that led to their undoing. Let’s go on a trip down memory lane and remember why the tagline of this show is “Expect the unexpected.”
Hardy Ames-Hill (Season 2)
Hardy was on a fast track to win Big Brother Season 2, with three Head of Household wins and zero nominations headed toward the end of the game. Unfortunately, he was playing with the legendary mastermind Dr. Will Kirby, who successfully convinced Hardy to use him as a pawn for all three times he was HOH. Will repaid the favor by casting the sole vote to evict Hardy, which led to his finish in fourth place.
Ameerah Jones (Season 24)
Big Brother Season 24 ultimately became the season of Taylor Hale’s unexpected win, so it’s easy to forget how well the game was going for other Houseguests before many united behind Taylor. Ameerah Jones was well-insulated in her alliance and had the smarts and comp skills to go far. The tides quickly shifted, however, and she became the first of many unexpected blindsides for her alliance.
Jessie Godderz (Season 11)
Jessie Godderz returned to play Big Brother in Season 11, after falling victim to mastermind Dan Gheesling in Season 10. Jessie had a solid run with two Head of Household wins, but was unexpectedly sent home after Chima’s nominations were overturned by Jeff Schroeder and the Coup d’État power. He became the first member of the jury, and made many future appearances as a guest on the series.
Janelle Pierzina (Season 22)
Janelle Pierzina has almost won Big Brother many times, but one of her poorest showings came in Season 22. Many of her fellow all-stars knew her resume, which put a massive target on her and Kaysar Ridha’s backs. That, plus a feud with Nicole Franzel that has resulted in many shady jabs since led to her leaving in Week 3.
Frank Eudy (Season 14)
Far too often, a competitive Houseguest will win early and then realize they must keep winning if they want to stay in the game. Frank Eudy had three HOH wins and three veto wins before the Season 14 cast could finally take him down in Week 8. Imagine if he had delayed his phenomenal winning streak a bit longer. He could’ve won!
Joanna “Joey’ Van Pelt (Season 16)
Joey Van Pelt seemed like a charismatic Houseguest who could’ve gone far in Big Brother Season 16 had it not been for her first big game move. Joey pushed very hard to start an all-female alliance, and while she had supporters, talking about that ahead of the veto meeting while a guy was HOH was a terrible decision. She was sent home first, and we missed out on what could’ve been a wildly different season.
Chris “Swaggy C” Williams (Season 20)
Christ “Swaggy C” Williams is one of the strongest personalities ever to join the Big Brother cast, but that’s precisely what ended his run early in Season 20. His outspoken and confrontational attitude led to his alliance member, Kaitlyn Herman, backdooring him on a week he believed he was safe. The former Big Brother houseguest went on to join The Challenge and married fellow Houseguest Bayleigh Dayton.
Daniele Briones (Season 13)
Daniele Briones, née Donato, returned to Big Brother after a dominant performance in Season 11, in which she came in second to her estranged father, Dick. Unfortunately, her father wasn’t able to return the favor when they were a duo, and her previous hot streak of winning resulted in early targeting by others and a seventh-place exit in Season 13.
Bill “Bunky” Miller (Season 2)
Bunky Miller was another strong competitor in Season 2 of Big Brother that fell victim to the sly game moves of Dr. Will. With two very similar game styles, I think there’s a case to be made Bunky could’ve won had Dr. Will never played. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
Helen Kim (Season 15)
Helen Kim could’ve made it to the late stages of Big Brother Season 15 had it not been for crossing Amanda Zuckerman and McCrae Olson. They turned on her in Week 8, and despite having a chance to re-enter the game, Helen failed that competition and went to the jury house. Conspiracy theorists will say a producer hidden from view pushed her off her pillar, but that can’t be proven.
Mike “Boogie” Malin (Season 14)
Mike Boogie trusted Ian Terry and even took the Houseguest under his wing during Season 14, but maybe the Big Brother winner taught him too well. Ian ended up being the key to Boogie’s undoing, and he couldn’t do anything but laugh during Ian’s goodbye message.
Isabel “Izzy” Gleicher (Season 25)
Izzy Gleicher was poised to go the distance in Big Brother 25. She had critical knowledge of Cirie and Jared Fields’ relationship as mother and son and helped them gain a stranglehold on the house in the first half of the game. Unfortunately, a fated conversation with Cory Wurtenberger about targeting America Lopez led to her being backdoored well before she should have left.
Kaysar Ridha (Season 6)
Let’s be honest: Kaysar Ridha could’ve gone a lot further in the bulk of his seasons. Unfortunately, his masterful strategy has been hampered by a lack of tact at times, and maybe trusting the wrong people. Why he chose to trust Jennifer Vasquez to keep him safe after being evicted once instead of winning HOH, fans will never know.
Kaitlyn Herman (Season 20)
Out of every Big Brother player who had a chance to save themselves after eviction, Kaitlyn Herman had arguably the easiest path back in the game with her puzzle. Unfortunately, she panicked a bit, and ended up leaving the house and going down in fan history for the tremendous fail.
Eric Stein (Season 8)
It’s only fitting that Eric Stein, the first “America’s Player” in Big Brother history, be someone who should’ve gone further than he did. While he netted $40,000 for completing numerous tasks in secret, he was unable to make it to the final stages of the game. A fifth-place finish isn’t bad, but he definitely could’ve won.
Tiffany Mitchell (Season 23)
Tiffany Mitchell is largely credited as the mastermind of The Cookout, but her one shortcoming as a player was she wasn’t playing for herself to win. Had that been the case, she might’ve likely won Big Brother 23. Instead, she prioritized her alliance, which made it easy for the more physically dominant Xavier Prather and Kyland Young to target her.
Eric “Cappie” Littman (Season 6)
Big Brother Season 6 could’ve worked out wildly differently for Cappie had he not left early on. The Friendship alliance used him as their rallying cry to get to the end of the game and would’ve stuck beside him and maybe even let him win.
Dr. Will Kirby (Season 7)
It’s a general rule to never count out Dr. Will Kirby when he’s competing, and he had a solid shot at becoming a two-time winner of Big Brother in Season 7. His Chill Town alliance with Mike Boogie helped them both make it to the end stages of the game, but he ended up being the sacrificial lamb when Janelle Pierzina cast the sole vote to evict. Unfortunately, Dr. Will and Boogie’s relationship deteriorated in the years since and led to some pretty serious stalking charges.
Elissa Reilly Slater (Season 15)
I think it’s fair to say that had the audience not continually awarded Elissa Slater MVP in the opening weeks of the game, the Big Brother Season 15 Houseguests might not have been so ready to send her home. Her run feels like one of the times being tied to a legendary player (Rachel Reilly) didn’t work out in her favor, and I would’ve loved to see how she did without having to come clean to the cast.
Joseph Abdin (Season 24)
The Leftovers alliance ran the game in Big Brother Season 24 but, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Once the house split, Kyle Capener decided to break the alliance in order to make a big move that would save his showmance, Alyssa Snider. This meant Joseph Abdin was sent home when he had a solid shot at making it much further.
Britney Haynes (Season 14)
We often talk about the incredible game move that is Dan’s Funeral, but not the person who was screwed over by that game move, Britney Haynes. It’s not often that wild game moves pay off, but he did in a big way, and it reversed a 100% safe Britney out of the game.
Michael Bruner (Season 24)
Michael Bruner was the clear frontrunner in Big Brother Season 24, absolutely shattering the long-held veto record, but his luck had to run out eventually. A key loss in the double eviction resulted in him being sent home, and to make matters worse, Big Brother 25 winner Jag Bains beat his record a season later.
Zach Rance (Season 16)
Zach Rance is another example of a Big Brother Houseguest who would’ve gone much further if he could only keep his emotions and words in check. Unfortunately, when you are willing to call people a “Froot Loop Dingus Bustafooligan,” it’s not going to take long until you have a target on your back. The Season 16 Houseguest finished 9th.
Claire Rehfuss (Season 23)
Claire Rehfuss was smart and had what it took to reach the end of Big Brother Season 23. Unfortunately, her biggest blindspot was not seeing that Tiffany Mitchell, her Final Two partner in the game, wasn’t working in her best interest. If they had truly been working together, however, it’s not hard to see Claire in the Final Two chair of that season.
Winston Hines (Season 20)
Winston Hines looked like he was primed to take over Big Brother Season 20, but sometimes everyone gets that vibe pretty quickly. The house was pretty quick to jump on his and Brett Robinson’s alliance and shut it down before he ever had a chance to really do anything. The upside is his leaving led to one of the best eviction votes of the season!
Ovi Kabir (Season 21)
Ovi Kabir has shown since Big Brother 21 that he’s fairly knowledgeable about the game, but when you’re on the outside of a majority alliance, there’s only so much that you can do. Ovi quickly found himself on the outs of the house and was unable to win himself a second chance after losing the Comeback Competition.
Hisam Goueli (Season 25)
Hisam Goueli had a lot of early success in Big Brother Season 25, but his personality quickly soured his alliance’s thoughts on him. Cirie Fields orchestrated a blindside that took him out, though one might wonder if she regretted that move once the other side of the house started winning competitions.
Olukemi “Kemi” Fakunle (Season 21)
Kemi Fukunle was one of many Big Brother Season 21 Houseguests put on their back foot in the early game, as she couldn’t overcome the overbearing power of the Gr8ful alliance. Had that not happened, there’s no telling how far she could’ve gone.
Brandon “Frenchie” French (Season 23)
Frenchie had a tremendous start in Big Brother Season 23 and proceeded to dismantle his entire game over the course of the first week of the game. Creating an alliance that included all but one person, only for that one person to win the veto, is about the funniest turn of events I’ve ever seen. Frenchie could’ve gone further, though I’m not sure by how much, had he just kept his cool.
Libra Thompson (Season 10)
Libra Thompson is the poster child for not getting too greedy during a competition during Big Brother Season 10. Trading away a veto for a vacation ended up being her undoing when Michelle Costa targeted her for taking the prize away. Libra left the following week, but at least she had a vacation to look forward to.
Marvin Latimer (Season 5)
Marvin Latimer doesn’t get enough love in the Big Brother fandom, especially considering the Season 5 Houseguest’s influence on the game. One would think the inventor of the “backdoor” eviction method would be an all-time legend, but he was unfortunately evicted in the first-ever double eviction as well.
Becky Burgess (Season 17)
Would Becky Burgess gone further in Big Brother had she never tried to target Vanessa Rousso in Season 17? It’s certainly a topic up for discussion, though Liz Nolan was ultimately the reason Becky joined the jury. With that said, it would’ve been great to see how she would’ve performed if not for that early misstep.
There will always be more Houseguests who underperformed, and I already pity the next batch who will make the list from the upcoming season.