What would you do for fame? Many people don’t seem to mind risking their lives as they participate in dangerous shows that could kill them or, at least, injury them badly. They are influenced by the media and by those watching it, doing anything it takes to be a contestant on one of these shows. Most of them don’t even know what to expect on the show, and neither do the viewers, which is what can make these shows very popular.
Contestants often sign contracts that don’t even make the production team responsible for incidents, even if they are the ones putting the contestants in dangerous situations. One thing is for sure, make sure you are well informed on what to expect in reality TV before you sign the contract, or you might end up being forced to do something no sane human would ever do. There are no rules requiring producers to make sure the adult contestants are safe, even if there are some rules for children. Humans are basically turned into puppets that producers can manipulate any way they want.
Even if the true reality hidden by reality shows is becoming more and more well known, it seems that these shows are still popular. Here are the 15 most dangerous reality shows that have been created only for your entertainment.
15. Wipeout on ABC
This show is all about making people fall and hurt themselves, and having the audience laugh about that. Contestants have to go through a set of obstacle courses they have never tried before as fast as possible, in hope to get the final prize. This usually involves a wall of boxing gloves, a dizzy dummy machine, and the famous big red balls.
Everything is made as safe as possible, as contestants fall in mud or water, hit $100,000 worth of padding and have to go through a physical exam before participating to make sure they are in good shape. That being said, the contract does state that producers won’t pay medical treatment if anyone is injured even though “participation in the series carries with it the potential for death, serious physical injury, extreme emotional distress, mental or physical illness and property loss.”
Surprisingly, the show even saved someone’s life. After participating in Wipeout, a pastor was suffering from a severe headache and decided to go see a doctor. This is how he discovered he had a brain tumor, which is difficult to find otherwise. However, another contestant died several weeks after the show. Tom Sparks, who was competing with his new wife, suffered from knee pain on the show and was experiencing shortness of breath. He was taken to the hospital, where they discovered he was suffering from a pre-existing condition that causes unnatural clotting of the blood. Otherwise, most of the contestants have left the show with no serious injuries during all seven seasons.
14. The Swan on FOX
“Ugly” women have their wish granted as they receive tons of extreme plastic surgery to make them more beautiful. However, after the surgeries, fat can go to less flattering areas, Botox can make active muscles overpowering, and much newer problems can be created by trying to solve one. It can also lead to damaged nerves, infection, and bleeding, which can quickly lead to death.
If this wasn’t enough, the plastic surgery can simply fail and lead to a lot of disappointment and money wasted. People can develop a body dysmorphic disorder, which makes it so they are always looking for more and more dangerous surgery. Moreover, this is really difficult for their mental health, as they have to stay away from their family and friends through all this and can’t even look at themselves in the mirror before the end of the episode. If they look good in appearance, they also get a lot of scars and can end up suffering from depression and fatigue during their long recovery.
Even if most women are happy to see their new look, they will also be reminded that they are still not the most beautiful, as they have to take part in a beauty pageant. Reality TV making you believe so much surgery is the only option to look better may encourage many women to do so. No wonder why it was ranked #1 on Entertainment Weekly’s 10 Worst Reality Shows Ever. It truly earned this spot, not only for bad taste, but also for danger. Is being more beautiful really worth risking your life?
13. La Zone Xtrême on France 2
In this show, a contestant has to ask memory questions to another contestant, and if he doesn’t answer well, the first contestant electrocutes the second contestant. The more answers the contestant gets wrong, the higher the voltage of the shock, which can be up to 460 volts. Keep in mind that people have died after receiving a shock of only 42 volts.
What happened to those receiving the shock? Well, it was all a trick. It was not a real show, but an experiment inspired by the similar Milgram experiment conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. It was a fake pilot of a game that will never be produced and there were no electric shocks, but simply an actor that had been recorded previously. The contestants and crowd, however, were real people who knew nothing about the experiment and who would have willingly killed an innocent man.
This is how dangerous the authority of a reality show can be, making people do anything if they believe in the media. No one from the crowd reacted and they simply kept encouraging the contestants. If the electric shocks weren’t actually dangerous, the influence television has on contestants still is.
12. Cantando Por Un Sueno & Bailando Por Un Sueno on Canal De Las Estrellas
In these singing and dancing competitions, contestants are not participating to become famous performers. They would simply do anything to have their life saved, by making sure they won’t lose their business, their disease will be cured or that they will receive an organ transplant. The contestants go through a lot of stress and spend a lot of energy, in hope one of them will get better.
As if this wasn’t enough, many of them even have to strip or pole dance, as one of their last chances for surviving. The contestant who won the first season of Singing for a Dream got a tumor surgery for his wife, but many others weren’t able to have their wish granted. This wishes varied from helping their best friend cure a fatal illness, spending some time with their kids before they die of MS, getting an eye surgery for their blind brother and establishing a dog training center for blind people.
On top of all of this, when someone is eliminated, they have to snuff out candles, as if there wouldn’t be any more light in their lives anymore. Thinking that being eliminated from the show could mean that you would be eliminated from life is pretty rough. This desperation is spread all over the world, not only in Mexico, as similar shows also exist in Argentina, Panama and Peru.
11. Deadliest Catch on Discovery
As the show begins its 12th season, it seems to have been cursed by all these deaths and injuries, even though it is only the animals they catch that are supposed to die. The show presents the job of commercial fishing, as workers have to fish in the most dangerous environment with a high risk of injury or death. This work includes working with hooks, jumping into freezing water, facing storms, fights and much more.
Many stars of the show have passed away. Phil Harris died of a pulmonary embolism after suffering a stroke while offloading crabs. Justin Tenisson died of sleep apnea complications. Tony Lara suffered a heart attack. An associate producer committed suicide. Also, Edgar took a hook to the head, John took his in the face, and Nick took his in his nose.
If all these deaths and injuries are not directly related to the show, filming in these difficult situations certainly didn’t improve anyone’s health.
10. Killer Karaoke on TruTv
If you like watching singers and people humiliating themselves, this show is for you. While trying to sing, contestants may be bitten by violent wild dogs (while wearing a padded suit), walk through a cactus maze with blurry vision googles, receive a strip wax treatment all over their body, put their head in various cases containing animals, and much more.
Steve-O, the host, is even facing a lawsuit because a contestant has been suffering from injuries from the show. Susanne Ohman claims she fractured many bones while on the show because liquid made her slip off the platform she was on. Her husband is also suing him because he can’t have sex with his wife for the moment.
The craziness is spreading all over the world as the show was inspired by the British show Sign if You Can. There is now a Killer Karaoke in Thailand and 14 other countries.
9. Splash on ABC
Stars try to master the art of diving, and, in exchange, they get many bruises and injuries. Falling into water from the height at which these stars had to jump was not really a soft landing.
The celebrity contestants received many, many injuries, including a ruptured eardrum, a bruised breast, and fractured feet.
Contestant Kendra Wilkinson even said to People, “Every morning I would wake up and be shaking, it’s a really risky show. I related jumping off the high board into the water to jumping to my death. That’s how big of a deal it was. To me, it really meant risking my life.”
A contestant on Celebrity Splash in China also died by drowning in the pool during a training session. At least, the participants receive the help of safety-certified coaches and there is a lot of training before they even get in the water. Safety is first, but sometimes, safety fails.
8. Kid Nation on CBS
Some producers had the idea to create a show similar to Survivor… with kids. They were sent in a ghost town to live all on their own and create a new society with no electricity, no indoor bathrooms and no school. 40 children, ages 8 to 15, had to cook, make rules, work long hours, create a government, and much more, all without adult intervention.
This doesn’t seem to be the best form of babysitting as parents had to sign an agreement reading that their children could be exposed to “a variety of unmarked and uncontrollable hazards and conditions that may cause the Minor serious bodily injury, illness or death, including, without limitation: general exposure to extremes of heat and cold; water hazards, crevasses, cliffs, and rock avalanches; encounters with wild or domesticated animals; acts of God (e.g., earthquakes).” Not so surprisingly, some of these things happened as kids accidentally drank bleach and a girl burned her face while cooking.
If they say anything about the show, it would cost them $5 million to break the confidentiality clause. However, some kids claim they have learned a lot from this experience.
7. Crocodile Hunter on Discovery
Steve Irwin knew the animals well, but not enough to prevent him from being attacked by a stingray on camera, which killed him quickly. The huge ray jabbed him with its tail hundreds of times, even reaching his heart. His last words were a calm, “I’m dying,” to his cameraman.
The horrifying scene was filmed as Steve asked the cameraman to never stop filming, even if there is an accident. However, the footage will never be released out of respect for everyone, even though it has strangely been missing. Steve Irwin had been working with deadly, dangerous and almost uncontrollable wild animals for years, ranging from crocodiles to sharks to snakes, and much more.
Irwin was shooting on his daughter’s documentary. Even after his death, his daughter and his wife still wanted to work with animals.
6. Born In The Wild on Lifetime
If you think giving birth in the wild with no hospital, no doctors, no running water, and no painkillers sounds like fun, you’re crazy and not taking into consideration your safety or the safety of your child. However, many women were interested in this idea, either for religious reasons or because they don’t trust doctors, and wanted the full control over the birth of their child.
Audrey Bird, a participant on the show, said, “The main problem I had with my first birth is my choices weren’t respected.” Her doctors argue that they did whatever they had to do for her own good. Many complications can happen fast and can’t be foreseen, which is why opting to give birth in the wild is so nuts.
Moreover, the show itself is dangerous. In the first episode, the boat on which a lady was giving birth could have sunk with a simple wave. At least, during the show, professionals will stay behind the camera in case the couple needs any help. The producers will also only accept low-risk pregnancies and they will be located near a hospital.
However, they do not talk about the dangers linked to giving birth without assistance, as delivering a baby at hospital reduces the risk of infant mortality by 75 to 85 percent. The show may still inspire many women to give birth in the wild, even thought it is one of the worst ways to start their kid’s life. This is not natural. This is irresponsible.
5. The Jump on Channel 4
Seven out of twelve initial contestants had to leave the show because of injuries. Participating in winter sports is already dangerous, but it is even more when it is part of a reality show meant to shock and entertain. The show received many complaints from the broadcasting regulator, but still escaped censorship. No wonder why CNN, The Guardian, New States Man and The Sun all called it the most dangerous reality show.
Tweddle, an Olympian gymnast, had her life changed after a ski jump because she fractured two vertebrae. Another gold-winning Olympian fractured her arm and dislocated her shoulder because of an incident caused by the crew. Another cast member broke his ankle.
As a spokesperson from Channel 4 told CNN: “The Jump is now in its third series and since launch 46 celebrities have taken part successfully.” Yeah, as if he wasn’t responsible for injuries as long as the majority survives. After sending so many contestants to the hospital, they should maybe change their name to The Hunger Games.
4. Survivor on CBS
Survivor is clearly life-risking, as the most important challenge is to stay alive in the wilds. If this wasn’t enough, they also have to take part of dangerous challenges that can cause important injuries.
Many contestants fainted from heat exhaustion. Moon fractured her wrist on a challenge because she didn’t listen to the rules. LaGrossa kept dislocating her shoulder. Skupin passed out in a fire and had to leave the show. Dowdle got an infection that could have lead to amputation or death. Payne stayed on the show even though she might have broken her ankle. And, many suffered from dehydration. The contestants are not listening to their body, as they’d do anything to win. They rather stay on the show than go to the hospital, unless the doctors make them understand they might not get out alive.
As it is possible to read in their contract, they have to agree that they might suffer from severe mental stress due to their environment, agree that they may be injured because of the lack of health care facilities and agree that they may contract HIV or other diseases. Also, the rules can be changed at any time by the producers, so the contestants can never really know what to expect. Oh, and if they ever talk about their experience and report this dangerous situation, they will have to pay $5 million each time they violate the confidentiality agreement.
Someone even died on the show in 2009. A 53-year-old contestant had a heart attack after an activity, and his family will never have the right to sue the show for that. Fortunately, in other cases, the health of the contestants is more important than the game, as they will be treated by doctors and maybe get back home if needed. The doctors have more authority than the producers. Even though there are many medics on the set who respond quickly, it is never a good idea to put yourself in dangerous situations.
3. Russian Roulette on Channel 4
For a television special on Chanel 4, the illusionist Derren Brown played Russian Roulette live. He asked for a volunteer to put a bullet in a gun, then Derren pulled the trigger with the gun pointed at his head several times before he shot the wall, knowing where the bullet was.
He claimed that he could read the mind of the volunteer, as he asked him to think about it and say numbers one to six out loud. The volunteer and Derren were alone in the room and the illusionist signed a disclaimer so no one other than himself would be responsible for his possible death.
Derren Brown had only one chance out of six of surviving by doing this trick. Channel 4 even had to accept to present the live show with 4 seconds left in case he really killed himself, as the police asked them to stop this challenge. Fortunately, Derren Brown guessed where the bullet was and the channel had been watched by more people than ever before.
However, this show is only in position three on this list because people reported that it could have been a hoax, claiming Derren may have used a blank bullet. It was, however, proven on set that they used real bullets and his spokesman claims he could have died anyway with a blank bullet. Derren even proved in another video that a blank bullet could be just as dangerous as a real one. It is not even possible to know the truth. In other shows, he even convinced a woman to kill a kitten.
2. Jackass on MTV
The point of this show is to hurt yourself for entertainment by doing the craziest stunts possible. In any of the shows or movies, lives have been risked by jumping off a roof with an umbrella, crashing golf carts, being hit by a car, walking a tightrope over alligators, using a 50,000 volt teaser on themselves, playing with an anaconda in a ball pit and much more. These kinds of stunts certainly caused some injuries, even including broken bones. Ryan Dunn even laughed about the time he broke his tailbone and had an X-ray showing his penis presented on MTV.
It was not only dangerous for those participating on the show, but also for those who were inspired by it at home, even if Jackass frequently featured disclaimers noting that stunts were dangerous, should not be imitated, and that no one would be on TV if they record any of their own stunts. At least not on Jackass, but another MTV show, Scarred, is dedicated to people badly injuring themselves by doing stunts.
Teenagers even set their friends on fire and died from being thrown off an apparatus, all influenced by the reality show. It is surprising to know no one has been killed on set. At least, those participating on Jackass know what to expect from that kind of show.
1. Endurance on Fuji TV
This show is all about contestants enduring painful, bizarre and dangerous situations. They have their lungs filled with water as they are forced to lay in the waves of the sea. They have to drink beer or they will drown in it. They are stuck it a tiny house with nothing to do. They eat or drink for 24 hours. They lay naked on ice for hours.
Tortures are divided into three categories: eating tortures, the spicy challenge, and the physical challenge. Many of these games have a high risk of death, but Japanese don’t seem to mind. A dummy is sometimes there to demonstrate the challenge before the contestants play, and it often dies. Contestants can always surrender, but most of them make sure they have pushed their limits before doing so, and others just keep on playing until their body has to stop them. No wonder why it was considered to be the world’s most extreme game show according to Guinness.
It is considered to be a survival game because they really risk not living anymore. People seem to like seeing others suffering, as this show was the #1 rated show when it was created in 1984.