It takes some intellect to win on game shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. But it takes a completely different skillset to battle it out on television in shows like Wipeout and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.
Some physical skills certainly help in these popular game shows, but winning big can also come with plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. Television producers are dreaming up new ways to put contestants in jeopardy all for viewers’ torturous pleasure.
Here’s a look at five of the craziest game shows that have contestants courting disaster, leaving viewers cheering on all the insanity.
Much of the torturous television trend began in Japan and Takeshi’s Castle started it all. When it comes to pain-inducing obstacles and bone-rattling physical failures, this show offered plenty. The show ran from 1986-90 and featured contestants involved in crazy contests, many of which seemed impossible to actually complete.
In challenges like “Dragon God’s Pond,” contestants ran at full speed and leaped across several stones placed in a small pond. The simple goal was to get to the other side. However, some stones would sink, leaving contestants smashing into the other stones and landing in some really disgusting water. When it comes to contestants, these guys weren’t necessarily the Jordan or Michael Phelps type. A trip to the gym or a few laps around the track might have been a nice idea.
Despite the zaniness and convoluted storyline of the actual game show, Takeshi’s Castle became a hit in syndication around the world. In the U.S., Spike TV renamed the show Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, editing and redubbing with a completely different plot for added laughs. That version ran from 2003-07 and no doubt provided plenty of fun in college dorms. However, some of those “fails” look truly painful.
This game show took the Takehi’s Castle’s lead and ran it with when the show debuted in 2008. Players compete on what’s described as “the world’s most challenging obstacle course.” Contestants compete in four rounds before a winner is finally chosen.
But the actual game play is beside the point, as the show’s name implies. The actual wipeouts are the star of the show and competitors bite the dust in numerous ways – from being punished by giant bumblebees to plummeting head-first into a big rubber obstacle to getting smacked around by a giant hot dog and French fries.
The show brings plenty of laughs – all at the expense of the poor saps risking life and limb. The wince-inducing wipeouts leave viewers glad they stayed on the couch and aren’t on the show.
Like Takeshi’s Castle, this popular show got its start in Japan – albeit with quite a bit different level of contestants than many other physically challenging shows. Ninja Warrior (known as Sasuke in Japan) features top-notch athletes competing on highly difficult obstacle courses.
When it comes to most contestants, think more Kobe Bryant for Ninja Warrior and maybe more like Norm Peterson for Takeshi’s Castle. The last competitor standing is named “ninja warrior.” And who wouldn’t want to be a ninja?
The show is a hit around the world and has inspired international versions, including in the U.S. These contestants are real athletes and many train months and months just for the game show – even building similar obstacles at, and in, their homes. Finishing the course is a feat in itself – just too bad there are no ninja stars or samurai swords.
This is a new entry into the crazy television game show genre, but really delivers some fun. What kid hasn’t played “floor is lava” on a boring summer day. Leap from the couch to the coffee table to the easy chair. Land on the floor and you’ve burnt to a crisp.
Netflix ramped up that concept even more with teams of three competing in rooms featuring giant-sized versions of every room in the house. The recent game room episode featured some Pop-A-Shot, a giant poker trip, and even a Shaq-sized foosball table.
And there is no soft landing in this Floor is Lava. Come up short and players plunge into an orange liquid “lava” and seemingly never return as teammates look on in horror. Like Wipeout, there are plenty of nasty exits as players misfire transitioning from safe space to safe space. The final two teams square off in a volcano obstacle course via the house roof. The winning team scores $10,000 and, fittingly, a championship lava lamp trophy.
If you’re a child of the ‘80s, there’s a good chance Nickelodeon’s Double Dare was a part of your life. This show featured contestants answering trivia questions and facing off in “physical challenges” that usually involved some kind of goo, slime, or messy food, and often incorporated safety goggles.
The show originally ran from 1986-93 and tripled the network’s afternoon ratings, helping to establish Nickelodeon as a major cable network. The finale involved the winning team competing on – you guessed it – an obstacle course.
Each challenge included more slime and messiness in hopes of winning the grand prize, which could include a Toys “R” Us gift card, Sony Wlkaman, Garfield telephone, Atari 7800, and even a VCR. One regular part of the finale even involved picking a giant nose. Those poor Double Dare custodians.