There’s no real rulebook on what it takes to win Big Brother. It usually requires a balancing act of getting along with others in the house, being cunning and deceptive (but secretly so), winning competitions, and earning the favour of the jury members.
But even if you excel at all, or most, of these things, sometimes you can still fall short of winning the reality competition game. Sometimes, something you take for granted, like angering someone who has the power to influence the jury, getting caught in a lie, or even picking the wrong person to align with, or take to the finals, can mean the difference between winner and second place (or worse.)
With that said, here are ten really amazing players who were never able to secure a win.
10 Vanessa Rousso (Season 17)
A highly emotional player, this might have been her downfall, as Rousso was in a good position for most of the game to win. She founded The Sixth Sense alliance, pulled strings to have others do what she wanted to further her game, was considered to be responsible for 11 of the 15 evictions, and won competitions. She was an all-around great player who wasn’t afraid to make big moves. But she just missed a win by a hair, placing third when Steve Moses cast the final vote to evict her, and eventually won. Interestingly, the jury confirmed that Steve made the right move, as the majority would have voted for Rousso over either of the final two.
9 Janelle Pierzina (Season 6, 7, All-Stars)
Considered to be one of the most under-rated players, Pierzina forged several alliances in two different seasons. In season 6, she placed third, just narrowly missing the chance to plead her case to the jury. In the All-Stars season, she set the record for the most individual competition wins in a single season, winning 4 HOHs and 5 POVs for a total of nine. Again, she took home the bronze third place trophy, though she won America’s Favorite Houseguest. As a fan favourite, she returned as a Coach for BB 14, but became a victim of Big Brother legend Dan Gheesling, who convinced the HoH at the time to backdoor her. Thus, she was sent packing early, placing 12th.
8 Paul Abrahamian (Season 18, 19)
Perhaps one of the saddest stories of Big Brother winner-nevers, Abrahamian placed second in back-to-back seasons, watching the winner title slip right through his fingers twice in a row. In both cases, it was his attitude and arrogance that made him fall short of a win. Aside from making enemies in the house, he also refused to face up to his transgressions and manipulations, and so the bitter jury raised a proverbial middle finger to him, regardless of any respect they might have had for his gameplay. In Season 18, many believe he made the wrong decision by taking Nicole to the finals instead of James, losing to her by a vote of 5-4. In season 19, Abrahamian felt Josh had ridden his coattails all the way to the finals, and he’d be a shoe-in to win when Josh decided to take him to the final 2.
But the last laugh was on his once again when little did he know that Josh had been subtley feeding information to jury members through his goodbye messages that pointed fingers away from him and toward Paul. But even without that, Abrahamian’s cockiness was his own downfall.
7 Daniele Donato (Season 8, 13)
Playing with her estranged father Dick in BB 8 that featured a rivals twist, the two (sort of) made amends, and ended up in the finals together. Dick did everything he could to protect his daughter, and even lobbied for her to win over him. But despite his status as a villain (he was nicknamed Evil Dick), the jury still felt he was the deserving winner. That’s despite Daniele having won two HOHs and an impressive 5 POVs! When she returned in season 13, she didn’t have Dick to align with (he had to leave the show early due to a medical emergency) but teamed up with newbies. That ended up costing her, and she was voted out in double eviction, placing 8th.
6 Frank Eudy (Season 14, 18)
A great strategic player and competition beast, Frank forged an early bond with Big Brother legend Mike “Boogie” and a showmance with Ashley. Because of his powerful performance in competitions, and likability with houseguests, he was nominated for eviction every time there was an opportunity to get him out. He was the indirect victim of a double eviction: once his initial Silent Six alliance fell apart, he was left on the outs with Mike and Ashley, who were both sent packing on double eviction night. That left Eudy as the easy option, and when the second double eviction came around, he was sent home, placing 7th. Like many others on this list, however, he also won America’s Favorite Houseguest. He returned in season 18, but rifts with several women in the house led to his even earlier eviction by unanimous vote, and he placed 12th.
5 Tyler Crispen (Season 20)
Considered through to be a shoe-in to win, it was a shocker when Crispen wasn’t voted winner after making it to the final two. It was almost a given that he would be in the finals, thanks to his strong Level Six alliance, showmance with Angela, and friendships with people on all sides of the house. He had final 2 deals with every person in his alliance, miraculously without any of them realizing it, or each thinking the rest were fake and they were the real one. He won a ton of competitions (3 HoHs and 3 POVs), was nominated three times for eviction, and had formed such a strong bond with Kaycee that she remained loyal and chose to take him to the final 2, even though he probably posed a bigger threat to win against her than JC would have. Though he didn’t win, he did earn America’s Favorite Houseguest.
4 JC Mounduix (Season 20)
While Mounduix did and said some controversial things while in the house, he also slyly played the game, controlling, twisting, and manipulating situations behind the scenes. He played both sides of the house, essentially steered competition beast Faysal on which way to vote each week, and planted seeds of doubt in peoples’ heads to turn them against one another. In the end, he made it to the final 3 thanks to an HoH win during the final 4 but was sent packing when Kaycee decided to take her long-time friend and ally Tyler with her to the final two.
It’s unclear whether JC could have won against Tyler (it’s doubtful he would have beat Kaycee either). Nonetheless, he certainly did enough in the game to justify a win.
3 Ross Mathews (Celebrity Big Brother 1)
While we love Marissa Jaret Winokur, it was a travesty when Ross Mathews didn’t win the first season of the U.S. version of Celebrity Big Brother. Placing second to Winokur, it was 100% sour grapes that made the jury vote for the bubbly actor over the charismatic and equally bubbly and charming TV host and personality. As a long-time fan of Big Brother – Mathews even used to host the post-show web interviews with evicted houseguests – he knows the game inside and out. He played an almost flawless game, made major moves, pulled strings, all the while making friends and being a joy to watch. Yet players didn’t like his deceitful ways (hello, people, this is Big Brother!) and that led to a 6-3 vote against him in the end. At least Mathews won America’s Favorite Houseguest that season.
2 Enzo Palumbo (Season 12)
Super-lovable Enzo, otherwise known as “meow-meow,” was a member of The Brigade alliance, which put him in a strong spot, and brought him all the way to the final 3. He wasn't exactly the most strategic player, but aligned himself with the right people, and skated all the way to the finals, entertaining viewers along the way. it wasn’t meant to be, though, as the eventual winner Hayden decided to take Lane with him to the final two. Hayden made the right move since he won, and he might not have had the same outcome against Palumbo, who didn’t really make any enemies on the show. Interestingly, Palumbo made it as far as he did without ever winning an HoH himself, being nominated for eviction three times, and only winning a single veto. That in itself is impressive.
1 Britney Haynes (Season 12, 14)
Haynes was one of the most entertaining, sarcastic, quick-witted and sharp-tongued players, but she got a raw deal in season 12 when she was blindsided by the all-guys Brigade alliance that basically took her out because she was the last remaining non-member. Had she won the final HoH or POV, she might very well have won the season. Meanwhile, in BB14, she returned as a Coach, but was voted out in eighth place, becoming second member of the jury. As a fan favourite, a great player, and a model Diary Room talker, she had every quality to win, but was never able to succeed.