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October 13, 2015

Six Game Shows that Used Actual Torture

by Danny Gallagher, posted Apr 8th 2010 4:00PM
An act of torture during the InquisitionIf you were shocked to hear about ABC's 'Downfall,' a game show that drops people off of buildings for our amusement, you clearly don't watch enough TV and lead a rich, fulfilling life.

Television's long and storied history is filled with game and competition shows that pit their contestants in a physical, psychological and gastrointestinal showdown, most of which were lost to the ravages of obscurity. Well, it's "filled" if you only look at the last few years or so when the economy tanked and people turned to humiliating themselves in the national media to keep from having to hunt small rodents for sustenance. That's how 'The View' got started.

These are the shows that not only tortured contestants, but also their viewing audience unless Dick Cheney happened to be watching any of them.

6. 'Fear Factor'

A contestant on NBC's This show is a constant target for comedy list writers like me (i.e. Shows that Increased the Need for Stronger Public Education and Federally Funded Literacy Programs, Strongest Forms of Anti-Evolution Evidence, Activities that Require Immediate Showering Afterward) and this list is no exception.

'Fear Factor' appeared to be just a simple game show replacement for NBC's crumbling prime time schedule, but it turned into a ratings riot as contestants chowed down on pig anuses and endured being buried alive in earthworms for a few measly bucks. It not only lasted six seasons, but it has been re-dubbed and remade in every country with a major media outlet. They still haven't forgiven us.

5. 'The Chamber'
As shock games were finding their footing, Fox tried to turn up the heat by violating just about every U.N. Human Rights violation set to what sounds like the score and interior designer from 'Robocop'.

'The Chamber' aired after Super Bowl XXXVI and attempted to tap into that rare television vein: bondage voyeurs. Contestants were strapped into a metal chamber that simulated extremely hot or cold temperatures complete with flame throwers and water cannons, 8.0 plus Richter scale earthquakes and electric muscle shocks. As all this hell is being unleashed, a Jim Rome-lite host is asking them inane trivia questions like "What kind of guy is Bill Nye?" and "What food is a staple of the Papa John's restaurant franchise?" It only lasted three episodes when viewers realized that their god granted them a soul, a conscience and unquestioned free will.

4. 'Cram'
Sleep deprivation is one of the most common forms of torture. It's simple to inflict, weakens the victim's central nervous and circulatory systems and saves corrupt government regimes the money of having to hire housekeepers to provide turn-down services.

The Game Show Network used this torture device to drive their trivia and physical challenge game show. It pits two teams of two in a test of knowledge, memory and stamina by forcing them to stay awake for 24 hours in order to study a room full of books and magazines on everything from arachnid factoids to meat identification. As they are spouting off the few facts their oxygen deprived minds can remember, they are forced to walk on two giant hamster wheels of doom (second only in "doomometers" to 'Double Dare's' One-Ton Human Hamster Wheel), juggle multiple tasks and even ride exercise bikes in order to earn points from answering questions. It was hosted by comedian Graham Elwood, presumably because former Army reservist Lynndie English wasn't available.

3. 'Distraction'
Some Comedy Central nerds might remember their last attempt to carve out a corner of game show heaven when they picked up this little British import, hosted by comedian Jimmy Carr. Like most of the previous games, it attempted to ask contestants' questions as they performed painful and humiliating tasks such as sticking an entire bushel basket of clothespins on their face, downing hot sauce by the shot glass and electrocuting their own mothers. The British version, however, would make the cast of 'Jackass' change the station.

The British version of 'Distraction' forced contestants to blindly reach for a buzzer buried under a mound of sharp cacti, drink another contestant's urine or get an extremely painfully looking metal stud shoved straight through the tip of their nipples. This show would make a game show with a waterboarding theme look watchable. And if there is such a show in the works, may I humbly suggest "Bottoms Up" as a title.

2. 'Remote Control'
Ken Ober, the host of MTV's MTV's perfect slice of game show manna also had its own unique dark side. Contestants would click around channels on the giant Zenith in Ken Ober's basement and if they came across the infamous "Wheel of Torture," they would immediately drop a "snack break" in their pants.

The channel gave contestants two choices: they could lose 10 points and the game would move on or they could spin the wheel and endure a specially designed torture at the hands of co-host Colin Quinn and walk out of their ordeal 10 points richer. Stops on the wheel included such playground classics as wet willies, Indian burns, noogies and the dreaded "purple nurple." The fact that a female never landed on that last one probably turned Colin into a hardcore atheist.

1. 'The Endurance'
Leave it to the untamed, drug-induced world of Japanese entertainment to top a list of game shows that torture people. I'll bet their PBS affiliates feature more needless cleavage and lack of sanctity for human life than ours do.

Also known as 'Za Gaman,' this physical challenge show didn't try to challenge their contestants' mental abilities along with their physical skills or dress up endurance tests with dumb questions that a retarded monkey could answer with nothing but a patch of dirt to draw on and a stick. This show put their contestants through actual torture methods such as forcing them to lay down on the ocean shore line with their nostrils pried open or making them go days without eating and the winner was the last one to cry Uncle or, presumably, not die.

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You forgot the Cheap Show with Dick Martin.

April 09 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I remember when I thought we were civilized. so niave.

April 09 2010 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fear Factor was the BEST!!!!

April 09 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They'd have to give me a hell of a lot more than a crummy volkswagon for getting my nipple pierced. I sleep on my stomach. An ex-girlfriend put a nipple clamp on me once when I let her tie me up, thats why she's an ex.

April 09 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Silent Library on MTV!

April 09 2010 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stefanie's comment

my granddaughter got me into watching this. How can people be so stupid but it is funny!!!

April 09 2010 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Seems to me that the writer of this article is religious to some extent.
"The fact that a female never landed on that last one probably turned Colin into a hardcore atheist."

April 09 2010 at 1:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

how do these shows buy liability insurance?

April 09 2010 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cheryl Owens

Never watched any of these shows. They're all moronic and fit the same mentality as the medieval games and sports partaken of by barbarians and morons. A total waste of what good life there is left.

April 09 2010 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh, Endurance.... I remember seeing that on VHS way back in the day and, being a 12 year old, fell in love w/ it. Then, years later, I track down a copy on eBay and rewatched it as an adult (well, physical adult; mental child) and it wasn't the same.

Still, hanging upside down near-naked in the desert with magnifying glasses pointed at your nips while HOT sand is flung over you (among other things), is pretty out there.

And that's one of the more normal ones...

April 08 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Speaking of Cram, Double Dare, and human hamster wheels....


That is part one of Marc Summers hosting Cram. He is the perfect guy to ask questions when there is a giant hamster wheel around.

April 08 2010 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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