How many finalists would judges have saved in the past?

There’s been some mild outrage over American Idol‘s new rule that was announced last night, which allows the judges to veto a finalist’s elimination. Newsday’s Verne Gay amusingly sums up the responses/conspiracy theories about it.

But hold on. Ryan Seacrest said the rule was created because viewers “told [the show]” that Tamyra Gray, Michael Johns, Jennifer Hudson, and Chris Daughtry “left the competition too early.” But of those examples, only two, Jennifer and Michael, would have actually been eligible.

That’s because the golden power of the save only works “up until the top five” (although it’s not clear if they can save someone when five contestants remain, or before that point). And there just haven’t been a lot of eliminations that viewers have been outraged over that would have been prevented by this rule.

While Simon and Ryan insisted that this rule change does not negate the democratic nature of the show, which of course it does, the real question is whether or not it’s even necessary.

Below I’ve listed the finalist who would have been eligible had the rule existed during their season, with the last person in each list being the fifth-place contestant, who may or may not have been savable under the new rule.

How many should have actually won the competition? Made it to the final two? How many can you even remember, besides thinking, “Oh yeah, that name is familiar”? How many would Paula Abdul have fought to save by clawing the other judges eyes with her fingernails (hint: one)?

Season one:
EJay Day, Jim Verraros, A.J. Gil, Ryan Starr, Christina Christian, RJ Helton (5th)

Season two:
Vanessa Olivarez, Charles Grigsby, Julia DeMato, Corey Clark, Rickey Smith, Kimberly Caldwell, Carmen Rasmusen, Trenyce (5th)

Season three:
Leah LaBelle, Matt Rogers, Amy Adams, Camile Velasco, Jon Peter Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, John Stevens, George Huff (5th)

Season four:
Lindsey Cardinale, Mikalah Gordon, Jessica Sierra, Nikko Smith, Nadia Turner, Anwar Robinson, Constantine Maroulis, Scott Savol (5th)

Season five:
Melissa McGhee, Kevin Covais, Lisa Tucker, Mandisa, Bucky Covington, Ace Young, Kellie Pickler, Paris Bennett (5th)

Season six:
Brandon Rogers, Stephanie Edwards, Chris Sligh, Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato, Sanjaya Malakar, Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson (5th and 6th)

Season seven:
David Hernandez, Amanda Overmyer, Chikezie, Ramiele Malubay, Michael Johns, Kristy Lee Cook, Carly Smithson, Brooke White (5th)