Over the years, nearly 200 queens of all shapes, colors, and styles have strutted into the RuPaul’s Drag Race Werk Room in pursuit of the crown (plus the makeup supply, and one hundred thousand dollahs!). Only a select few make it all the way to the top.
But among those who don’t make it are queens that many a loyal fan and even the casual viewer might describe as also deserving of the grand prize. This isn’t to say that actual winners didn’t deserve their crown, but a quick look through the annals of Drag Race herstory — armed, of course, with a discerning eye — will show you plenty of rigga morris.
So, let’s take a look at some of the queens of seasons past who, in a perfect world, might have just snatched the crown for themselves.
Raven (Season 2, All Stars 1)
One of the most underrated queens in Drag Race herstory, Raven is also one of the most enduring queens of the past decade. After suffering from lackluster performances in the first few episodes of Season 2, she came back with a vengeance and nearly made it to the top in both Season 2 and All Stars 1.
It’s a shame that Raven never actually won the crown, but her bridesmaid finish in Season 2 meant that we were given the gift of her presence in All Stars 1 alongside bestie and fellow perennial finalist Jujubee. Imagine a world where we never got Rujubee and their iconic lipsync not-battle to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.”
Since her time on-camera, Raven has come back to the show as a makeup artist for RuPaul herself, starting Season 9. For her work on Season 12, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Contemporary Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction, or Reality Program. She’s also been a creative producer for All Stars since All Stars 3 and the main show since Season 10.
Raven also hosts and executive produces her own reality TV competition on WOW Presents Plus called Painted With Raven. In it, she searches for America’s Next Makeup Superstar.
Katya Zamolodchikova (Season 7, All Stars 2)
Violet Chachki may have been crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar in the finale of Season 7. But the title of Miss Congeniality went to everyone’s favorite Russian hooker, Katya Zamolodchikova, who captured hearts not just with her comedic chops and unique looks but also with her openness about her struggles with depression, anxiety, and drug addiction.
She went on to impress in All Stars Season 2, showing us her wildly vicious reading skills — against the likes of Alaska and Detox, no less — as well as her unforgettable Bjork in “Snatch Game.” It’s too bad that Michelle Visage has put a target on her back, though, because look at the material!
Nevertheless, Katya has been booked and busy since, most notably with fellow Season 7 alum Trixie Mattel in projects like the World of Wonder web series UNHhhh and Viceland’s The Trixie & Katya Show. The pair have even written a book together, entitled Working Girls: Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Professional Womanhood, and published last October.
Katya and Trixie have both said they won’t be returning to Drag Race “ever again,” and honestly, with all the content we’re getting, that’s okay.
Jujubee (Season 2, All Stars 1, All Stars 5, UK vs the World)
The ultimate finalist, Jujubee has the unique distinction of reaching the finale a total of four times, finishing this close to the top in Season 2, All Stars 1, All Stars 5, and RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs the World.
Her latest Drag Race stint is also her last, with Jujubee going on the record to say she will no longer compete as a drag queen. “It’s a smart thing to know when to quit,” she said.
The fact that she’s retiring from competition without a crown is an actual travesty, but at this point, she has nothing left to prove. She’s got a face beat for the gods, has won three reading challenges, and only ever lost lipsyncs to Drag Race winners. She was the heart of the season in all the seasons she graced, even opening up about sobriety, foster care, and her chosen family in All Stars 5.
Plus, her Earttha Kitt is to die (laughing, clutching my sides) for.
And while she may be leaving the competitive drag scene, Juju fans don’t need to despair. Taking a bow from Drag Race “opens up possibilities and probabilities for other things,” she explained. “Because the universe is vast, darling!”
Jujubee’s latest project, a podcast called Queen of Hearts, is a fun blind-date game show currently on its third season.
Alyssa Edwards (Season 5, All Stars 2)
The Grand Dame Diva of the South and mother to drag icons, Alyssa Edwards is one of the biggest stars of Drag Race herstory. She’s also among the most unfairly treated, so much so that she had to coin the phrase “rigga moris!”
All three of her eliminations in Season 5 and All Stars 2 (where she was given the boot twice) were unjust. Whether she would’ve gone on to beat Alaska for the All Stars 2 crown is still a topic of heavy debate, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that she should’ve at least made it to the finale. Just imagine the magic she would’ve written in her “Read U, Wrote U” verse if given the opportunity.
Would Alyssa consider coming back for a third run? Fortunately for her fans, the answer is yes.
“I could see myself in that Werk Room now,” she said in an interview with Out. “I mean, it’s been a decade, so it’d be going to a high school reunion, but it would be so much fun… For a few years, I probably would’ve said no. But I think now I’ve arrived at a place where I’m like, ‘Girl, let me pack my purse, and let me see if the old broom still sweeps.’”
Of course, Alyssa has been making drag media herstory even before her stint in Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, having appeared in the 2008 documentary Pageant.
And she will continue making waves — Drag Race comeback or not. She continues to compete with her dance studio team, Beyond Belief, and stars in a Netflix series called Dancing Queen.