Fear Factor

From Academic Kids

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Fear Factor logo

Fear Factor is an American stunt/dare game show created by Endemol Netherlands and first aired on June 11, 2001. However, Fear Factor is commonly referred to as a reality show.

The original Dutch version was called Now or Neverland. When Endemol USA & NBC adapted it to the American market they changed the name to Fear Factor.

The show pits contestants (usually three men and three women) against each other to complete a series of stunts better and/or quicker than all the other contestants. The show is hosted by Joe Rogan.

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Contestants from the "Best Friends" episode

Gameshow format

The regular format involves three men and three women who must complete three stunts in order to win $50,000. If a contestant fails to complete a stunt or does not perform it better or quicker than other contestants, they are eliminated from the competition. Before the third stunt, if only one contestant remains, they automatically win $25,000 and the other contestants who were eliminated in the stunt, will return for the next stunt to compete for the remaining $25,000. If no one completes the second stunt, then they return to the third stunt for a reduced $25,000.

Other formats have included:

Couples — Four couples compete in three stunts like normal, with the winning team dividing the $50,000 prize and sending either one player to the Tournament.

Season Four had nine couples competing over seven weeks and 17 stunts for a jackpot of $1 million. Along the way, they competed for various prizes ($10,000), cars, trips, and one chance to steal a desired prize from another team. Along the way, couples were eliminated and two teams competed in the 17th stunt for the $1,000,000.

Twins — Three teams of identical twins compete on day one, the team with the poorest performance was eliminated, and the four twins played for themselves from then on, only one single person would win the $50,000. In season four, four teams of twins competed in the same format as the couples show.

Models, all-female — Played just like the regular shows.

Parents and children — Four teams compete, with the second stunt being played for a bonus prize such as a trip or car, the winners on day three divide the cash prize.

Celebrities — Special episodes with the celebrity contestants donating the money won from competing the stunts to a charity of their choice.

Tournament of Champions — Seasons two and three concluded with a Tournament featuring the winners of each show. In season two, men competed amongst men and women amongst women until two of each made it to the third stunt, with the winner collecting $100,000.

Season three divided the 24 winners into two semi-final groups of 12 each. The semi-final was structured just like a normal show: with the group being cut from 12 to six, then to three, and finally two. The two people who got through the third stunt won a Mazda RX-8 and a chance at the $100,000 in the third week. Each of the three last stunts eliminated one contestant, and the final stunt determined the winner.

$1 Million Episode — Twelve contestants competed in six stunts at the start of the fourth season. The one player who survived all six won a $1 million annuity.

First stunt

The first stunt is a physical stunt which usually involves with a body of water and/or a helicopter for dangling purposes, where the contestant who manages to complete the stunt in the shortest time possible or to go the farthest (to break ties, there is time set). Because of the three men/three women format, the men and the women would pit against contestants of their own gender so that at least one man and one woman would be eliminated in the first stunt.

Second stunt

The second stunt is more popularly known as the gross-out stunt and involves the contentants consuming or getting in contact with what something normal people feel to be unappetising or downright disgusting. Eating stunts typically entails consuming some unappealing animal parts (e.g. Cow Brains, horse scrotum, fish eyeballs or rooster testicles) or insects such as cockroaches and worms. Other less frequently featured stunts include eating durians, a smelly tropical fruit. Non-eating gross-out stunts would sometimes involve in transferring the undesirable items from one place to another only by using the mouth, though at times a bonus would be given to the contestants if they can eat some insects. Apart from that, some of the second stunts would need one to dive into a place with neck-high foul smelling water to retrieve items in the shortest time possible. There may also be a stunt where contestants have bees or other insects swarming or crawling around them.

Third stunt

The third stunt usually involves stunts more common with action or movie stunts. In the series, some of the contestants had to drive an all-terrain vehicle off a cliff, a car into a house, move from the top floor of one building to the other, retrive an item off a pole from the top of a building, and other stunts that mainly involves automobiles or height. It may also include stunts involving swimming, holding one's breath, or something else that is aquatic.

The winner of the final stunt is congratulated by Joe and is crowned Fear Factor champion with the eight parting words "Evidently fear is not a factor for you."

International versions

In the UK, Sky One broadcast a version of Fear Factor with British contestants. The nature of the stunts is similar to the US version, but instead of individual contestants, Fear Factor UK is contested by two teams of three, who bank prize money according to their success or failure in the first two stunts. The UK host is Ed Sanders, now on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

In early 2002 an Australian version briefly ran on the Nine Network. It was also similar to the American version, however instead of having contestants compete for prize money each episode, the winning contestant would instead compete for a place in a final, where they and other winning contestants would compete for a final $50,000 AUD prize. Only two episodes were aired before the show was withdrawn from schedules.

In half of 2004 a Polish version, called Fear Factor - Nieustraszeni, started and has been shown on Polsat TV. It was very similar to American version. However instead of only three men and three women there was about 300 people around all Poland. Only 90 were qualified to second stunt and only five were in final stunt where one of them had win 50,000 PLN prize. The Poland host was Roman Polko. Since now only one episode was aired before the show was withdrawn from schedules.


In January 2005, an episode featuring a stunt involving blended rats aired in its normal prime time slot. Austin Aitken, a part-time paralegal from Cleveland, sued NBC for $2.5 million USD for airing the show, claiming that he felt so disgusted from watching the stunt, his blood pressure rose until he felt dizzy and bumped his head into the doorway. In March 2005, U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells threw out the lawsuit.


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