Fear Factor’s Finest Moments: A Retrospect

Since 2000, many hit game shows in the past, such as Card Sharks, Lingo, and Password, have been revived in an attempt to bring back the viewing entertainment and pleasure it brought to millions of home audiences from across America. Many of these revived shows were cancelled after a season or two due to receiving less than impressive ratings or a general lack of interest. The once popular reality game show series Fear Factor has recently fallen into that category after NBC revived the show last year and dropped it eight episodes in due to subpar ratings. This season of Fear Factor reminded us why the show was a hit when it was in its prime, with contestants competing in more extreme, disgusting, and physically exhausting stunts. Since it is apparent that NBC will not be airing new episodes of the show, this week’s article will delve into highlights of past seasons of show that turned your fears and phobias into reality.

Fear Factor premiered on June 11, 2001 as a simple three-stunt show with three men and three women competing for $50,000. In the pilot episode, the show gave us a preview of what Fear Factor had to offer in crazy challenges, from being dragged by a horse to being surrounded by rats.

As the years rolled by, the stunts got more dangerous, more nauseating, and more extreme. One of the most heinous stunts the contestants ever had to endure involved two million volts of electricity passing through their body during a 2004 Halloween special edition. Check it out in the clip below.

It was shocking that no one rejected this challenge (no pun intended), even after Joe Rogan reminded them that the voltage from the stunt was 1,000 times worst than the electric chair. Nevertheless, the intimidating stunts did not hinder the contestants from vying for the $50,000 grand prize. Fear Factor confirmed the notion that people will do just about anything for money, including eating buffalo testicles, biting into a cow heart smothered in bug juice, and ingesting worms and maggots as shown in the clip below.

Later in the series, Fear Factor began to air special edition episodes. Some of these special episodes featured a considerably higher grand prize, up to $1 million. The Fear Factor $1 Million Heist were among the few million-dollar episodes to air, where the winning team could win up to $1 million and a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Check out the clips below, which also features a Fear Factor Home Invasion segment where a $5,000 CapitalOne credit card is at stake.

Fear Factor became so popular, it was the first reality show to be syndicated and Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood created a theme park live show based on the series aptly named Fear Factor Live. The attraction invited audience members to perform phobia-driven stunts similar to the challenges played on the television show. Both attractions in Florida and Hollywood opened in Spring 2005. The Hollywood attraction closed in August 2008 and the Florida attraction is currently operating on a seasonal schedule. The clip below features highlights from past Fear Factor Live shows.

I’ll bet you $50,000 that you didn’t know this fun fact: Fear Factor originated in the Netherlands in 1998 titled Now or Neverland. Since then, no other country has picked up the format until NBC did in 2001. When  Fear Factor took the U.S. by storm, other countries from around the world, including Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Spain, adopted their own versions of the hit show. The two videos below feature full episodes of the the British and Australian versions of Fear Factor. Check out both episodes to see how they match up and compare to the American version. 


When Fear Factor ended its initial tenure on NBC in 2006, reruns continued to run in syndication and on various other channels such as Chiller and FX. Surprisingly, GSN hasn’t picked up any episodes of Fear Factor yet, even when the network switched over from Game Show Network to GSN and filled its primetime schedule primarily with reality shows. According to Entertainment Weekly, because Chiller received great ratings from airing reruns of the series, NBC decided to recommission Fear Factor after a five year absence. The series revival premiered on December 12, 2011 with two one-hour episodes titled, “Scorpion Tales” and “Broken Hearts and Blood Baths”.  The two season-opening episodes averaged about 8.6 million viewers. That’s nothing to brag about considering Fear Factor averaged over 11.5 million viewers during the show’s initial run. Unfortunately, the Fear Factor revival peaked during its first night back on the air and couldn’t pick up enough momentum to become a ratings threat to the other networks. When Fear Factor moved on in 2006, so did everyone else. Although, it was nice to see Joe Rogan return to Fear Factor and watch the contestants perform the heart-pounding, adrenaline-rushing stunts that made America fall in love with the show back in the early 2000s.

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