The Red Jaguars, the Blue Barracudas, the Green Monkeys, the Orange Iguanas, the Purple Parrots, and the Silver Snakes. For 120 episodes these six teams battled it out on Nickelodeon’s Legends of the Hidden Temple for the right to go into the temple and retrieve the lost artifact they learned about from Olmec.
With the announcement that Nick will be making a live action movie this year based on the show, we here at Nerdist decided it was finally time to answer one of the most important questions ever asked: which one of those six teams was the greatest in the show’s history?
It might be easy to look at which team won the whole thing the most and call it a day. But that’s far too simple when it comes to this show. Legends of the Hidden Temple wasn’t about offering a fun experience for its young contestants, the way Double Dare or Guts did. No, it was a more of a mass extermination concerned with wiping out teams as quickly and brutally as possible.
So we’re going to dig much deeper into the numbers to see how each team did—at every stage of the show, both compared to one another and against their expected performance—to determine which animal got the most out of its time in the temple.
But before you go any further be warned, there will be math involved. So whether you continue on from here is your choice, and yours alone.
Are you ready?
First, a quick refresher on how the show worked, round-by-round, with the show’s Nickipedia’s page as our own Kirk Fogg to guide us:
ROUND 1: THE MOAT
ROUND 2: THE STEPS OF KNOWLEDGE
ROUND 3: THE TEMPLE GAMES
The two teams would compete in three physical challenges, with the winners receiving a half or full Pendant of Life for winning (with both teams being awarded it in the case of a tie). The team with the most pendants advanced to The Temple.
In the case of a tie, a question about the legend would be used to determine the round’s winner.
ROUND 4: THE TEMPLE (A.K.A. THE TEMPLE RUN)
(You might remember this part included the temple guards that would pop out of nowhere and scare the crap out of the kids. The contestants could escape them by handing over a full Pendant of Life.)
Look at that. Twelve kids invited to compete on a show, and within a minute four of them are sent packing. Then a few minutes later four more. The Hunger Games Cornucopia isn’t that efficient. Contestants only had a 50/50 shot to get to the fun stuff. (Unless you consider answering multiple-choice questions about an easily understood story that you just heard “fun.”)
So while some kids made it to the temple and actually won either a vacation or a trip to Space Camp (the single most exciting phrase for kids of the 90s), you can’t judge overall team performances only by that metric. It would be like saying that Yankees back-up catcher Charlie Silvera, who was a part of six World Series championship teams during his career, was a better player than Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey Jr., who won zero.
The regular season has to count. Getting a chance to spend some quality time on the show has to count. Not being the goobers….err, unfortunate kids…that were instantly eliminated has to count.
So let’s take a deeper look at the numbers for every stage of the show to see which team deserves the honor of being the greatest in Legends of the Hidden Temple’s history.
In 120 shows we would expect each team to make it to the second round about 80 times each. There should be no expected advantage based on the colored shirt and team name you were assigned. (Unless some producer with a gambling problem was taking side action on the proceedings and therefore giving the stronger children certain colors, but we can’t account for that so we’ll trust it was a random process. But that’s actually a great premise for a movie.)
Here’s the breakdown for Moat wins (again, thank you to the fine folks at Nikipedia for doing the Lord’s work and having all of these numbers available for humanity):
Red Jaguars: 90
Green Monkeys: 88
Silver Snakes: 88
Blue Barracudas: 76
Purple Parrots: 70
Orange Iguanas: 68
No no team was as good as the Orange Iguanas were bad. If we look at the standard deviation though, only the Red Jaguars are more than one standard deviation outside the mean (average), while the Purple Parrots and Orange Iguanas are both more than one standard deviation below it.
Now this might stun you but I’m not a statistician, so I had everything reviewed by a math teacher that actually teaches statistics to check these numbers and give them some perspective. According to her, anything under two standard deviations should not be considered significant here, so while we definitely know which teams are off to a good start in this evaluation, no performances stand out as particularly egregious or impressive. We’ll use this standard going forward.
THE STEPS OF KNOWLEDGE
Records for each team in wins-losses (winning percentage):
Green Monkeys: 48-40 (.545)
Silver Snakes: 40-48 (.454)
Red Jaguars: 40-50 (.444)
Purple Parrots: 38-32 (.543)
Orange Iguanas: 37-31 (.544)
Blue Barracudas: 37-39 (.487)
Whoa! There does not seem to be any correlation between the success at The Moat, primarily a physical challenge, with the Steps of Knowledge, which required the impressive skill set of “listening and repeating those things back two minutes later.”
We would expect every single team to have a 500 record, but only the Blue Barracudas are at that number. Two of the most successful teams from the first round, the Red Jaguars and Silver Snakes, are barely outside of one standard deviation below the mean.
The Green Monkeys continued their success from round one with the most overall wins and the best winning percentage on the Steps, with the Orange Iguanas and the Purple Parrots, the two teams with the most losses in The Moat, making the most of their opportunities here.
As for the Blue Barracudas, they were definitely a part of the show.
THE TEMPLE CHALLENGES
Remember, as we continue on, the total number of opportunities in a round for each team changes greatly based on their success in the previous two levels.
Here is a quick recap of how many times each team got to the third round, which was made up of three separate challenges.
Green Monkeys: 48 (144 games)
Red Jaguars: 40 (120 games)
Silver Snakes: 40 (120 games)
Purple Parrots: 38 (114 games)
Orange Iguanas: 37 (111 games)
Blue Barracudas: 37 (111 games)
Each challenge resulted in winning a piece of a Pendant of Life, with the first two challenges resulting in half pieces, and the final one earning a full piece.
Since ties within the challenge were possible, the numbers all skew to winning records, with each tie becoming a win. These numbers aren’t quite as important as advancing to the Temple itself, but we still want to look at them as a factor.
Temple Game wins-losses (winning percentage)
Green Monkeys: 84-60 (.583)
Orange Iguanas: 75-36 (.676)
Blue Barracudas: 69-42 (.622)
Silver Snakes: 68-52 (.567)
Red Jaguars- 65-55 (.542)
Purple Parrots 60-54 (.526)
Damn those Orange Iguanas did not fool around in the Temple Games.
All of these numbers are greater than a .500 winning percentage because “ties = wins,” so they aren’t the most important stats from this round. But they still show the Purple Parrots did not exactly soar here, and the Red Jaguars continued their downward spiral following the Moat.
The Orange Iguanas standard deviation score is much higher than the Parrots is low though, so their success should be the story.
But since this wasn’t about challenges, it was about advancing (you could lose the first two, win the third, and then get the tie-breaker question right, moving you on even with a “losing record” in the round), what we really want to see are those numbers.
So here are the times a team made it in to the temple along with their round 3 overall wins-losses (winning percentage):
Orange Iguanas: 25-12 (.676)
Green Monkeys: 24-24 (.500)
Silver Snakes: 21-19 (.525)
Red Jaguars: 20-20 (.500)
Blue Barracudas: 19-18 (.514)
Purple Parrots: 11-27 (.289)
What the here happened to the Purple Parrots in this round? We already saw they had the worst winning percentage for the challenges themselves, but that’s still a much worse record than they should probably have. Four of the teams are basically right at .500, which we would expect, and the Orange Iguanas’ challenge success perfectly correlated with their overall round 3 success. That Purple Parrot performance stands out as the most significant number of the day, as it is easily the performance with the greatest standard deviation thus far, at almost two below the mean.
If we think of getting to the end as the ultimate accomplishment in the team-vs.-team part of the show, we would have expected each team to get here 20 times, which is not that far off. The Orange Iguanas and Green Monkeys definitely over performed, but not nearly as much as the Purple Parrots under performed.
The pendants weren’t just markers for going in to the Temple, they were also used inside of it to ward off the temple guards. That enhanced your chances of actually completing the run. We could look at the total number of pendants won by each team, but those numbers only tell us the sum collected. That doesn’t reveal as much as you would think, because having two full pendants on a single show/run were worth much, much more than a team having one pendant on back-to-back shows. But just for the sake of giving you everything, here are the raw numbers of pendants won:
Green Monkeys: 56
Orange Iguanas: 51
Red Jaguars: 46
Silver Snakes: 45
Blue Barracudas: 44.5
Purple Parrots: 39.5
Teams could find the other pieces of pendants in the temple. So even then we don’t know how useful they truly ended up being during the final round.
THE TEMPLE (RUN)
This is the only round where we have no expectation for winning and losing, because with just one team there was no guarantee of having a winner at all. So we are going to look at individual team records, and then compare those numbers to the overall combined performance of all six teams.
First, individual team wins-losses (winning percentage):
Green Monkeys: 8-16 (.333)
Silver Snakes: 8-13 (.380)
Blue Barracudas: 6-13 (.316)
Red Jaguars: 4-16 (.200)
Orange Iguanas: 4-21 (.160)
Purple Parrots: 3-8 (.273)
Hold on, we need to add them all up and see what the combined team record was in the temple for all 120 episodes.
33 wins, 87 losses, for a winning percentage of (.275).
So the Purple Parrots came in right at the average, with the Blue Barracudas slightly over performing and the Green Monkeys a little bit better than them. The Silver Snakes acquitted themselves the best relative to the other finalists.
The Red Jaguars were not good, but the real story here is the complete meltdown of the Orange Iguanas. I hate to say a bunch of kids choked, but they definitely had a coughing fit. Looking at the standard deviation for all the teams here, the Silver Snakes were almost as impressive as the Orange Iguanas were bad. But, considering the Iguanas performance to this point on the show, they feel like more of a disappointment than the Silver Snakes feel like a revelation.
So now we get to the portion where we have to apply some subjectivity (I debated coming up with a scoring system, but that would suffer from the same subjective bias based on how I decided to award points).
If you think the only thing that mattered was winning the whole thing and going to Space Camp(!) or winning a vacation (cool…but not Space Camp!), then two teams tied with 8 wins, the Green Monkeys and Silver Snakes.
However, I would argue the main goal was to beat the other teams and stay on the show the longest. Getting to do the Temple Run was getting the full experience, which only one-in-six teams got to do. (What would you pay, right now, to do the Temple Run? Bachelor/ette party idea!) The top two teams that got there were the Orange Iguanas (25 appearances) and the Green Monkeys (24).
Then again, maybe you think it was embarrassing to be eliminated immediately. So the Orange Iguanas don’t look as good with their last place finish in The Moat. I would argue that going out in round one was mostly an anonymous failure. And it isn’t like most of us have practice trying to get across a pool using a strange apparatus, so it’s understandable. Meanwhile, round 2 was much more public, and a loss there was more inexcusable because even the kids on this show had plenty of experience with multiple choice questions and simple listening skills. I’d rather fail with a pool under my feet and some wooden slats as my only method of transportation than I would want to look stupid because I can’t pay attention.
There’s also the physical challenge aspect of round 3, where you and one other team battled it out with everyone focusing on you, and really, physical prowess was really the main skill needed for the show.
So I am giving more weight to the middle part, with getting to the final run just as important as actually completing it.
(Rest assured, I looked both at the raw numbers and relative winning percentage for a long time, comparing the team’s, so I didn’t just go by feel here at the end. All the stats and math mattered.)
In honor of the Legends of the Hidden Temple’s elimination process, we’re going to determine our winner by brutally knocking off one team at a time, from worst-to-first.
6TH BEST: PURPLE PARROTS
These parrots couldn’t fly into an artifact if the whole tree was an artifact.
5TH BEST: RED JAGUARS
Red jaguars don’t actually exist in nature. Once they got across the pool they didn’t really exist on the show either.
4TH BEST: BLUE BARRACUDAS
Subpar start in The Moat, poor performance on the Steps, followed by a good showing in the Challenges, with only the 5th most appearances in the final run, but a respectable showing once they made it in.
The Barracudas might be blue to find out they don’t get a medal, but they were arguably the most average team, and only winners get to the podium.
3RD BEST: SILVER SNAKES
This is the first ranking where you can argue for moving up a team. The Silver Snakes did tie with 8 total victories in the show’s history, which means a team with only four wins is above them. But their performance in the third round is fourth in total appearances and fourth in winning percentage. That followed the 5th best winning percentage in round 2 on the Steps as well.
So the Snakes slithered up on the podium. Unfortunately they can’t shed the dead skin of their performance in the Challenges.
2ND BEST: ORANGE IGUANAS
The Orange Iguanas were strangely undercut by the pool. (Iguanas can swim, I Googled it and everything.) After that though they were unstoppable…until they met some temple guards.
Having the most appearances in the final Run counts for a lot. As does their licking of the competition in round 3. But the team ahead of them was just as good without gagging on a fly at the end.
THE BEST: GREEN MONKEYS
Second best performance in the Moat, most wins and best winning percentage on the Steps, most Challenge wins with the third best winning percentage, second most Run appearances, and tied for the most overall wins and the second best winning percentage in the final round.
Only once did the Green Monkeys finish in a category, either the raw number or winning percentage, outside of the top 3 (4th in Challenges winning percentage, though they were number one in total wins).
They barely finished second in Run appearances. Yet they still had four more total wins than the Orange Iguanas once there.
So there you have it. The only truly debatable rankings are between second and third. But it’s obvious the team in green was not monkeying around in that temple. And for that reason they earn the title of greatest team in Legends of the Hidden Temple history.