‘The Challenge’ Creator Jon Murray Discusses How Show’s Producers Dealt with Diem Brown’s Death

We miss you, Diem.
We miss you, Diem.

Tonight’s episode of The Challenge has been the episode that The Ashley (along with many of the show’s fans) has been dreading. On last week’s episode, Diem Brown was shown writhing in pain from what she believed was a stomach bug. (Unfortunately, we now know that Diem’s pain was actually caused by colon cancer, not a stomach bug.)

A preview clip from last week shows Diem’s partner (and on-again-off-again) boyfriend, CT Tamburello, screaming for someone to take him to the doctor, presumably to see Diem. Tonight’s episode will show what happened to Diem that resulted in her collapsing and being airlifted from Panama back to the United States. After fighting the cancer (which ended up spreading to other parts of her body), Diem died on November 14.

In a recent Reddit “AMA” session, show creator Jon Murray of Bunim-Murray discussed the difficult task the show’s production team had to show what happened while still being respectful to Diem, as well as Ryan Knight, a second competitor on this season who died a few weeks after Diem.

“We were still editing when they passed away,” Jon Murray wrote. “I know it influenced how we edited the shows.”

Jon did not say how their deaths affected the show’s editing; however it can be deduced that the producers ensured that Diem and Ryan were given a favorable edit. (Diem had previously complained about how she was edited on previous seasons. In fact, she had sworn off doing any more ‘Challenges’ after she felt she was edited to look “crazy” on “Rivals.”)

On the episodes that have been shown so far, Diem makes no mention that she had been diagnosed with cancer for a third time. However, in a recent interview with People, her sister Megan’s statements seem to indicate that Diem did, indeed, know she was sick when she came on ‘The Challenge.’

“We believe most of all she went on this ‘Challenge’ to prove to her body she still had some fight in her before succumbing back to treatment … to be an inspiration to those also fighting not to give up, ever,” Megan told the magazine.

Diem’s friend, Alicia Quarles, also made statements that indicated this.

“A lot of us who are close to her didn’t want her to go back on,” Alicia told People. “Of course none of us, including Diem, knew how sick she was, or that this cancer was so aggressive. When we spoke about it, D said she was going on to to earn money to use towards her medical bills. When D set her mind on something, there was no changing her or stopping her.”

(UPDATE: This Zap2It interview with Johnny Bananas confirms that Diem did know she was sick.)

During his AMA, Jon Murray wrote that the show’s production team had to figure out how to address the deaths of Diem and Knight, all while dealing with their personal grief over the loss of their friends.

“We were all devastated by the deaths of Diem and Knight,” Jon wrote of the show’s production team. “Sadly I don’t get to be in the field as much as I used to. But over the years I did get to spend quality time with both of them. They will be greatly missed. I hope we’ve done justice to them in their final appearance on ‘The Challenge.'”

While it was emotionally challenging  for the show’s crew to put together the season, Jon wrote that they never once considered not airing the footage because it featured Diem and Knight.

“All the cast and people who make the series believe that Diem and Knight would have wanted us to air the shows,” he wrote. “We worked hard to make sure these final shows do them justice.”

(Photo: MTV)


  1. I read an article stating Johnny knew about Diem’s cancer prior to taping Exes 2. Does anyone know if CT knew during taping? Thanks

  2. So, the edit of Knight shows him in a positive light? He must have been a real douche then. I just cringe at the way he treats and speaks to Jemmye. I’m sorry he died, but I still don’t like the way he treated people. He wasn’t a nice person.

  3. Point blank: It is irresponsible of the production team to allow Diem to travel & compete in a country who’s medical treatment is nowhere near what it is in the US.

    And her colon cancer is the reason she was removed from the game. So no, she clearly could not have competed or won a final challenge in her condition. She could barely walk in the house, she could not be scaling mountains or white water rafting in the state she was in.

  4. I cried reading this. Have the episode on DVD waiting for me when I get home today. So very sad, I adored Diem. And for the cast to lose 2 so close together is so devastating. May they both RIP.

  5. Don’t the contestants have to be cleared through medical in order to appear on these shows? I know they do on Survivor and there’s been plenty of people who were ‘cast’ on a season only to be removed days beforehand because they were too sick to appear on the show. I know The Challenge isn’t as strenuous as Survivor but I feel like there should be some tests they go through to ensure they’re able to compete…? Especially for Diem since this is not the first time she’s known she has cancer and went to compete anyway. I get that the prize money would be a wonderful way to pay for all her medical bills, but the final challenge is so strenuous I feel like there’s no way she could have actually done it with cancer raging through her body.. I respect her for wanting to show that she’s a fighter but I just feel like getting treatment sooner / production not allowing her to compete would have been a better scenario.

    1. Reply to “hmmm”.. as a cancer,”fighter” of 14 yrs i applaud Diem AND mtv for letting her compete! i can tell you now for her it was about the “money”, yes it may have helped, but wasnt her goal. Unless you have walked even 1 step in a fighter of cancers shoe.. dont be judgemental, just bc she had cancer doesnt mean she couldnt and wouldnt have made it to the end and/or won the final challenge. People like us doit just to,show other (like u) we can and will!i wasnt suppose to live 3 months and here i am 14 yrs later! What if i didnt do everythg i was told i couldnt??? I would have died YEARS AGO!

    2. I think they go thru a rigorous mental evaluation and a physical, blood work, that kind of thing. I don’t think they do an indepth, complete work up of their bodies that would indicate her cancer is back. she may have had blood work or other tests that may have indicated at least something but i believe they required her to get a doctors note to continue competing and obviously she got one.

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