Fear Factor

Fear Factor (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Fear Factor is an American sports stunt/dare reality game show. It originally aired between 2001 and 2006, when it was canceled. It was later revived in 2011, only to be cancelled again on May 13, 2012. After its second cancellation, a two-part special aired in July 2012. The original Dutch version was called Now or Neverland. When Endemol USA and NBC adapted it to the American market in 2001, they changed the name to Fear Factor. The show pits contestants against each other in a variety of stunts for a grand prize, usually of US $50,000. From Seasons One to Five, the contestants were generally three men and three women, all competing for themselves, but in Season Six, the show moved to a permanent format of four teams of two people, each with a pre-existing relationship with one another. The show was hosted by comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan, executive produced by Matt Kunitz and David A. Hurwitz and directed by J. Rupert Thompson.


As NBC's answer to the successful series Survivor, the show was initially a hit for the network in the summer of 2001, and built strong ratings for the next couple of seasons, but as the years passed, the ratings declined. In 2006, Fear Factor faced tough competition with the TV ratings champion, Fox's talent series American Idol on Tuesday nights, and the ratings declined further. Despite much publicity concerning an improved format and better stunts for Season Six, NBC put the struggling program on hiatus for the remainder of the season to make room for the sitcom Joey, which was removed from the NBC lineup a few weeks later. NBC then canceled the episodes of Fear Factor in May. The network began airing the remainder of the season on June 13, 2006, with the remaining episodes to be aired throughout the summer. In 2004, Fear Factor became the first network reality show to be syndicated. Over its six seasons, Fear Factor earned NBC a reported $600 million in advertising revenue. Currently only the first season has been released on DVD, but in early 2009, plans were made to release a box set containing the entire series on DVD. The project was put on hold for an unknown reason in March 2010. On June 5, 2010, it was announced that the project was canceled because of the low sales of the first season DVD.

With Chiller airing reruns of the show every Sunday night, the ratings on Chiller led to Comcast informing Entertainment Weekly in a May 31, 2011 report that Fear Factor would be revived for a new season. Eight episodes were ordered, with two of them being two-hour episodes and Rogan returning to the hosting duties. The revival was shot in high-definition, and owing to concerns over the then-ongoing NFL Lockout and the loss of NBC Sunday Night Football episodes, TV Guide reported in early July the show could be ready as early as September as lockout replacement programming. (NBC eventually lost one episode, the season premiere Hall of Fame Game, because of the lockout that ended in late July) The program began airing December 12, 2011, with the final episode airing July 16, 2012. On May 13, 2012, NBC announced that the episodes of Fear Factor were canceled. As of July 2012, "Fear Factor" is officially cancelled. Reruns now currently air on Chiller Network

Show format

Before the contestants are introduced (and at the half-way point of a two-hour special), Rogan utters a verbal disclaimer. The wording has changed with certain versions, but this is one most commonly used:

The normal format involves three men and three women, or four teams of two people with a pre-existing relationship, who have to complete three professional stunts to win US$50,000. If a contestant/team is too scared to attempt a stunt, failed to complete a stunt, or (in some cases) had the worst performance on a stunt, they are eliminated from the competition. If only one contestant/team successfully completed the first or the second stunt, they automatically won $25,000, and the other contestants eliminated in the stunt along with the winner of the stunt return for the next stunt to compete for the remaining $25,000. If no one successfully completed the first or the second stunt, then all of the contestants/teams eliminated in the stunt would return to the next stunt to compete for a reduced $25,000. (In season one, if one person completed the stunt, then the completer won $10,000 and the $50,000 grand prize was not reduced.)

Only once in the history of Fear Factor did the $50,000 top prize go unclaimed in an episode. This happened on a Best Friends edition on September 27, 2004, when none of the remaining teams were able to complete the final stunt. In the stunt, one member of each team had to drive a ramp car, while the other member had to drive a sports car. The one driving the sports car had to drive it onto the truck bed via the ramp car. If the sports car fell off of the truck bed at any time, the team was automatically eliminated. Had it been successfully completed, the team who did this the fastest would have won. However, the last remaining contestants walked away with two Mazda vehicles.

After the acquisition of Universal Studios of Vivendi Universal by NBC's parent company General Electric in 2004, contestants could win vacations in order to promote the theme park division of NBC Universal at Universal Orlando, or win trips to Universal Studios in Hollywood.

The order of the stunts on a typical episode of Fear Factor is as follows:

First stunt

The first stunt is designed to physically test each of the contestants or teams (e.g., jumping from one building to the next). Usually, the two men and the two women, or the three teams, that gave the best performance (such as the fastest time, furthest distance, or number of flags collected in under a certain time) will move on to the second stunt. The others are eliminated.

Second stunt

The second stunt is meant to mentally challenge the contestants or teams. The three most common types of stunts in the second round are eating stunts, animal stunts, and retrieval/transfer stunts. Eating stunts entail ingesting vile animal parts, live bugs, or a blended concoction of multiple gross items; animal stunts entail immersing one's head or entire body in animals considered to be disgusting or intimidating (such as rats, spiders, snakes, or worms); retrieval/transfer stunts entail retrieving items or gross objects (often by mouth) hidden in disgusting substances (e.g., blood, lard) or live animals (such as sit in a tub of snakes as long as they could). Less often, the second stunt involves a pain endurance challenge, such as outlasting competitors in a tear gas chamber, walking on broken glass with bare feet, or ingesting habanero peppers. With the exception of retrieval/transfer stunts, contestants are usually not eliminated after this stunt unless they did not complete it, or vomited before finishing. In the case of teams, one team may be eliminated for performing the worst.

In later episodes, a common (but not always used) rule was that no one would be eliminated after the second stunt; instead, the contestant or team that performed the best would receive a prize, such as a vehicle or a prize package similar in value.

Third stunt

The third and final stunt is usually something from an extreme type of stunt seen in an action film. Like the first stunt, it usually involves heights, water, vehicles, or some combination of the three. In order to avoid ties, this stunt is always competitive. The player or team with the best performance this round wins the grand prize, usually $50,000, and had the privilege of being informed "evidently, fear is not a factor for you".

Other formats

Tournament of Champions

The second and third seasons concluded with a Tournament of Champions featuring the winners of each show in that season and a $100,000 grand prize.

In Season two, the thirteen non-celebrity winners were divided into groups of eight men and five women. For the first four stunts, men competed amongst men and women competed amongst women, in two stunts each. The men had to release a flag from a locked box while hanging suspended in the air and eat three different items from a table. The women had to collect flags while on top of an aircraft and retrieve three poles from a tank with alligators. The stunts narrowed the contestants down from eight men and five women to two men and two women competed against each other for the grand prize by using a key to activate a horn while riding on a speeding truck.

In Season three, the twenty-four winners were divided into two groups of twelve, each containing seven men and five women. In the first semifinal episode, the group was cut from twelve to six to three to two finalists. In the second semifinal episode, the group was cut from twelve to six in the first stunt, then the men competed amongst the men and the women competed amongst the women in the second stunt, and then the final four contestants, two men and two women, were cut to two finalists. Each finalist won a 2004 Mazda RX-8 and a chance at the $100,000. In the finals, the four finalists competed in three stunts. Each stunt eliminated one contestant, and the final stunt determined the winner.

Special episode formats

Four Stunt Show (Seasons three to six): This was typically a 90-minute episode featuring four stunts instead of three. The first such episode was notable for the stunt involving body piercing. In seasons four to six, at least one of the four stunts was a non-elimination stunt, in which contestants competed for a prize. The four-stunt format was sometimes used in conjunction with other special formats, such as Family Fear Factor, Twins Fear Factor, and Reality Stars Fear Factor.

All-Gross Show (Seasons three to six): All three stunts on this show followed the format of the second (gross) stunt as described above. The first such episode involved bobbing for objects in a vat containing 50 gallons of cow blood. In seasons four and five, the all-gross format was used for Halloween-themed episodes. In season six, a "Farm Fear Factor" episode featured all gross stunts.

Las Vegas Show (Seasons three to five): Stunts took place at various hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. The show's winner was required to bet at least half their winnings on one hand of Blackjack, with the chance to continue gambling if successful.

Second Chance (Season four): Losing contestants from previous seasons came back for a second chance at winning $50,000.

Favorite Winners (Season five): Winning contestants from previous seasons came back for a chance at winning another $50,000.

Couples (Seasons three to five): Four couples competed in three stunts, with the winning team dividing the prize (and, in season 3, sending one player to the Tournament of Champions).

In Season four, nine couples competed over seven weeks and 17 stunts for $1,000,000. Along the way, they competed for various other prizes, including $10,000, cars, vacations, credit cards, and a chance to steal a desired prize from another team. In Season five, eight couples competed for the million dollar prize.

While not specifically designated as "couples" episodes, several themed episodes in Season six featured all-couples teams. These episodes included "Psycho Fear Factor" and "Old vs. Young".

Twins (Seasons two, four, five and seven): In season two, three pairs of twins competed as teams in the first stunt, and competed individually the second and third stunts. In s?"?"??? competed in three stunts, with the winning team dividing the prize.

Family (Seasons four and six): Four teams of one parent and one child competed in three stunts for the prize. In the second stunt, the team with the best performance received a bonus prize, such as a car or a vacation.

$1 Million (Season four and six): Twelve contestants competed in six stunts. The one player who survived all six won a $1,000,000 annuity.

Models (Seasons four and five): Played in the normal format with models or entirely female contestants. The fifth season had one episode with male and female models.

Fear Factor Super Bowl Halftime Show (Season two): Played in the normal format with Playboy Playmates. The first stunt aired as counter programming to the Super Bowl halftime show and ended right before the third quarter of the game started. The remaining two stunts were shown immediately after the game as counter programming to the Super Bowl lead-out show.

Miss USA (Seasons three to five): Played in the normal format with Miss USA contestants, with the winning contestant keeping $25,000 and giving $25,000 to a charity of their choice. There was no Miss USA edition in the sixth season of Fear Factor, as NBC produced a Miss USA edition of Deal or No Deal instead; the Miss USA contestants were the briefcase models for the entire episode. The next time that Miss USA delegates would be involved in a game show was in 2010 on Minute to Win It. It is unknown if there will be a Miss USA edition in the revival, as the current format will require a Miss USA delegate to pair up with a male contestant.

WWF/E Stars (Season two): Six WWF/E stars played for $50,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. It was won by Matt Hardy.

Reality Stars (Seasons five and six): Contestants from other reality shows, like The Amazing Race, Survivor, American Idol, The Apprentice, and The Real World, played for a grand prize and other bonus prizes such as cars and vacations. In Season five, six contestants competed in a four-stunt episode for $50,000, and in the sixth season, five teams of two competed in a three-episode series for $150,000.

Military (Season six): Contestants from the Air Force, the Army, the Marines, and the Navy competed.

Psycho (Season six): A three episode series featuring six couples performing stunts which were centered around the Bates Motel on the set of the original Psycho horror movie from Paramount Pictures. Unlike other Fear Factor episodes, contestants were required to sleep in the filthy Bates Motel between stunts, and were subjected to Fear Factor pranks and mini-challenges while in the motel.

Newlyweds (Season five): Four sets of Newlyweds competed for $50,000 at Universal Studios Florida.

Blind Date (Season six): Four single men were introduced to four single women, and either the women (in the first episode) or the men (in the second episode) got to choose their partner among the available contestants of the opposite sex. The winning team divided the prize.

No Sleep (Season four): Five co-ed pairs of contestants competed as teams in the normal format, with one exception: contestants were not allowed to sleep for the 48-hour duration of the competition. If a contestant fell asleep at any time before the final stunt was completed, his or her team would be eliminated. This was the only episode the TV series in which contestants could be eliminated in the downtime between stunts.

Home Invasion: This was included at the end of each episode in Season six. It involved Joe Rogan going to different homes across America and challenging the family to compete in a stunt. Each stunt usually involved the contestants, under time limit (usually 1 minute), ingesting something foul or undesirable before receiving keys to open two safes, both containing $5,000 credit cards from Capital One.

Revived series

The series revival began airing on December 12, 2011, and the 2 premiere episodes were viewed by 8.7 million and 8.5 million viewers, respectively. This makes the premiere the highest non-sports programming to air on NBC at 8:00 p.m. since February 2008.

The revival featured 4 teams of 2 people with a preexisting relationship per episode, rather than the original versions' 6 people (3 male, 3 female). The first 5 seasons had used the 3 male, 3 female grouping, but the sixth and final pre-revival season utilized 4 teams of 2 people each. The stunts have remained basically the same, with the "gross" one in between the two physical ones.

NBC pulled a two hour, five team, five stunt episode entitled "Leeches & Shaved Heads & Tear Gas, Oh My!" which featured a stunt where teams spun a wheel to determine whether they would have to shave their heads and eyebrows, get tattooed, or be tear gassed. This episode was scheduled to air January 23, 2012 and was replaced by a GOP debate.

The sixth episode, entitled "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!" and featuring a stunt where contestants drink the urine and semen of a donkey, was originally scheduled to air January 30, 2012. Hesitant about airing the stunt, NBC eventually pulled the episode after pictures of the stunt appeared online. Video footage of the stunt appeared online after the episode aired on Danish TV in June 2012.

The replacement episode for "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!," entitled "The Bees Are So Angry," was two hours instead of the usual one, and included 5 teams, 5 stunts, and a $100,000 prize instead of the usual 4 teams, 3 stunts, and $50,000 prize. The Voice replaced the series' slot on Monday nights.

NBC has rescheduled the 2-hour "Leeches & Shaved Heads & Tear Gas, Oh My!" episode, which will air in two parts over the nights of July 9 and July 16. The first part ended with the "To Be Continued" subtitle followed by a preview for the second part. As of July 2012, Fear Factor is officially cancelled.

US Nielsen ratings

Order Episode Airdate Rating Share Rating/Share
1 "Scorpion Tales" December 12, 2011 5.0 8 3.3/9 8.78 #2 #5
2 "Broken Hearts and Blood Baths" December 12, 2011 4.6 7 3.5/8 8.52 #2 #4
3 "Tall Crappaccino" December 19, 2011 3.5 5 2.5/6 6.37 #1 #5
4 "Snake Bite" January 2, 2012 3.2 5 2.4/5 6.01 #2 #7
5 "Roach Coach" January 9, 2012 3.1 5 2.3/5 5.53 #2 #5
6 "The Bees Are So Angry" February 12, 2012 2.3 4 1.5/3 3.73 #3 #11
7 "Leeches & Shaved Heads & Tear Gas, Oh My! (Part 1)" July 9, 2012 2.5 4 1.4/4 4.01 #3 #4
8 "Leeches & Shaved Heads & Tear Gas, Oh My! (Part 2)" July 16, 2012 2.4 4 1.5/5 4.21 #3 #5
9 "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!" Unaired in the U.S. due to content concerns.

International versions

Country Name Host Channel Broadcast Jackpot
' Fear Factor [[Vizion +|Vizion Plus]]
Arab World Fear Factor ??"?"? ?"???? Najla Badr MBC1 February 13, 2004 50.000 SR
' Fear Factor Marc Yellin Nine Network, FOX8 2002 A$50.000
Dutch Fear Factor Walter Grootaers VTM 2005
' Hipertensão Zeca Camargo (2002)

Globo April 14, 2002 R$500,000
' ????? Atanas Michailov Nova TV March 1, 2009 15.000 ??
' (French Canadian) Facteur de Risques Benoit Gagnon, Josée Lavigueur TVA September 21, 2004 CAN$30,000
' Fear Factor Chile Tonka Tomicic Canal 13 November 13, 2010 CL$3.000.000
' Frente al miedo Juan Pablo Llano Caracol TV 2005
' Fear Factor Antonija Bla"?e RTL
' Faktor strachu Joe Rogan Prima Cool
Poslední kapka 2012"2013 CZK10 000 000
' Fear Factor Biker-Jens TV3 2003
' Fear Factor Extreme ??? ?"???? Sally Chahin AlHayat TV April 2009 US$50,000
' Pelkokerroin Aleksi Valavuori Nelonen September 13, 2008 "?10.000
' Fear Factor Denis Brogniart TF1 10 000 "?
' Fear Factor Sonja Zietlow RTL 2004
' Fear Factor Kostas Sommer ANT1 June 2006
' A Rettegés Foka Kovalcsik Ildikó RTL Klub 2005
' Fear Factor India Mukul Dev SET Asia
Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi Akshay Kumar
(2008"2009; 2011"present)
Priyanka Chopra (2010)
Colors July 21, 2008
' Fear Factor Indonesia Agatsya Kandau RCTI Rp.500.000.000
' Fear Factor Malaysia Shamser Sidhu ntv7 August 27, 2005 RM10.000
Fear Factor Selebriti Malaysia Aaron Aziz Astro Ria and Astro Mustika HD December 29, 2012
' Fear Factor: Factor Miedo Julio Bracho (2002-2004) "El Rasta" (2004-2005, 2010)

Televisa 2004, Fear Factor Vip 2010 MX$150.000
' Now or Neverland
Fear Factor
Fabienne de Vries Veronica 1998 fl 20 000
"? 8 000
' Fear Factor Joe Rogan TV2 2008 $50,000
' Fear Factor Joe Rogan Viasat 4 2007"present
' Pinoy Fear Factor Ryan Agoncillo ABS-CBN November 10, 2008 " February 20, 2009 P2.000.000
' Fear Factor - Nieustraszeni Roman Polko Polsat 50.000z"?
' Fear Factor - Desafio Total Leonor Poeiras
José Carlos Araújo
Televisão Independente 2004
' Pariu cu Frica - Fear Factor Sport.ro April 6, 2008
' ???"??? ?"???"?? Cyrill Nabutov NTV 2004"2005 100.000 RUR
' Fear Factor Colin Moss
Thapelo Mokoena
Lungile Radu
' Factor Miedo Alonso Caparros Antena 3 2005
' Fear Factor Paolo Roberto TV4
' Fear Factor Türkiye
Fear Factor Extreme
Fear Factor Aksiyon
Acun Il?cal?
Asuman Krause
Asuman Krause
Show TV
Star TV
Star TV
' Fear Factor Ed Sanders Sky One Series 1: 3 September 2002 " 26 November 2002
Series 2: 18 September 2003 " 11 December 2003
Celebrity Series: 18 July 2004 " 22 August 2004
' Fear Factor Joe Rogan NBC June 11, 2001 " September 12, 2006; December 12, 2011 " July 16, 2012 US$50,000


Fear Factor has received criticism from the general public mainly because of the show's second stunt, which intends to disgust its viewers. More seriously, the American Humane Association expressed concerns for allowing various animals to get injured, and even killing insects by eating them alive during the videotaping of the show. The association also revealed that professional animal trainers have refused to work on the show because the producers of Fear Factor have demanded stunts which violate the association's guidelines.

American Humane believes that shows like Fear Factor are on a slippery slope of animal mistreatment and provide poor examples of animal treatment and humane ethics. As we work diligently to expand voluntary compliance with animal safety guidelines, organisations like Endemol who blatantly demonstrate complete disregard for animal welfare, or even that of their human contestants "? are producing unacceptable programming. Karen Rosa (Communications Manager of AHA Film and TV Unit)
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, Ohio, 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 lightheaded and subsequently vomited. He claimed that his disorientation was so severe that he ran into a doorway and seriously injured himself. In March 2005, U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells threw out the lawsuit on the grounds of First Amendment protection.

Fear Factor was also criticized by major U.S. electrical utilities for an episode that required contestants to climb through a simulated electrical substation with "electrified wires" replete with simulated sparks and electrical sounds added in post-processing. The Edison Electric Institute issued a warning regarding the episode, fearing that viewers might attempt to climb through a real substation with more fatal results.

An episode originally scheduled for January 30, 2012, featuring contestants drinking donkey semen and urine, was rejected by NBC, which instead aired a rerun. On January 31, 2012, two of the contestants, twin sisters Claire and Brynne Odioso, appeared on The Cowhead Show on Tampa Bay radio station WHPT to talk about their experiences in that episode; however, according to TMZ.com, producers of Fear Factor warned the Odioso sisters not to continue any discussion of the program, as doing so would put them in breach of their confidentiality agreements. As of July 13, 2012, Fear Factor is officially cancelled and is not coming back.

Spin-off products

Fear Factor has also resulted in various spin-off products:

  • A game called Fear Factor: Unleashed was by Hip Interactive for the Game Boy Advance.
  • A Fear Factor board game was published by Master Pieces.
  • There were several books based on Fear Factor, such as The Fear Factor Cookbook and Fear Factor Mad Libs.
  • Brand New Candy, LLC. made several novelty candies based on Fear Factor, including eyeballs.
  • A Hindi reality show called Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi (English: The Players of Danger) based on Fear Factor was introduced in India. Its host was Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar.
  • A theme park show called Fear Factor Live opened at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood in the Spring of 2005. The Hollywood attraction has since been replaced by Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical.
  • Eight champions from Fear Factor participated in a special edition of The Weakest Link in which only $22,500 was won; this stood as the lowest score on the NBC US version of the show.

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