11 Little Known Facts About Fear Factor

11 Little Known Facts About Fear Factor

Remember Fear Factor? The stunt game show originally hosted by Joe Rogan and later by Ludacris? Contestants were tasked with completing three extreme challenges designed to test them physically and mentally, all in an attempt to capture the grand prize of $50,000. It made audiences gasp, cringe, laugh, and, most importantly, it glued them to their TV sets during the early 2000s.

There was a lot more to this show than meets the eye, however. Fear Factor had quite a few interesting aspects that many viewers never realized, particularly related to its production and origin. Here are a few little-known facts about one of TV’s biggest hits of the 2000s, Fear Factor.


Updated on November 24th, 2022 by Jom Elauria: The reality TV competition genre encompasses numerous shows, including the controversial Single’s Inferno and the much-loved show Survivor. One of the most iconic reality shows to hit TV screens is Fear Factor, which sees players go through a series of terrifying, disgusting, and appalling challenges in order to win $50,000. While the show has long been canceled, there are plenty of fun facts about the show that might pique the interest of viewers.

Low Expectations

Before landing the hosting gig on Fear Factor, Joe Rogan was mainly known for his influence on mixed martial arts, as well as his stint on the show NewsRadio. He was also making a name for himself as a stand-up comedian, which, ironically, is part of the reason he took the job.

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Rogan did not expect Fear Factor to survive very long and thought it would soon get canceled (via Moyens) but accepted the hosting position anyway because he thought it would give him some good material for his stand-up routine. It’s safe to say he was very wrong about the show not having legs, though he surely got plenty of comedy fodder out of it.

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The Show Is Heavily Edited

fear factor worms 2011

It’s a known fact that reality TV shows are not what they seem on the surface. Some of the fakest shows like Naked and Afraid and The Voice often have contestants complaining that they’re not portrayed accurately on the show.

This is usually done through clever editing and stitching to vastly different clips in order for producers to create the storyline they want. However, contestants have to be okay with how the producers edit the show, even if producers move around clips to make them look bad (via Diply).

Fear Factor Prioritizes Safety

fear factor snakes nbc

There are a lot of incredibly unhinged challenges on Fear Factor. What makes the show terrifying is that it supposedly poses a threat to the well-being of each competitor, putting their mind and physical body under strain.

However, an article by The Things notes that all the stunts were quality and safety checked by professionals. That means that every stunt is perfectly safe, whether it’s bathing in cow’s blood or eating sheep’s eyes. With so many terrifying challenges and episodes, Fear Factor is one of the most rewatchable reality TV series of all time.

Contestants Have To Sign Comprehensive Contracts

Fear Factor Contestants

Just like some of the best reality competition shows like Masterchef and RuPaul’s Drag Race, Fear Factor must also have an extensive contract that both protects the contestants and frees the production crew from being liable for any unfortunate incidents that might happen during filming.

According to The Things, the producers of Fear Factor were serious about protecting contestants, that’s why they had them go through numerous screening tests to make sure that they can handle the show’s challenges. Watching Fear Factor is already enough to give some people the shivers, and for them, joining the show is unimaginable.

Dangerous For Everyone

Fear Factor was apparently dangerous for viewers as well as the actual contestants. At one point, the show faced a seven-figure lawsuit stemming from the fact that a disgusting challenge had a juice that included a blended rat (via Law.com). It made the viewer sick and disoriented, which led to him injuring himself.

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In spite of the Ohio man’s personal plight, the judge soon dismissed the case, stating that the show was protected by the First Amendment. Viewers with weak stomachs should think twice before watching Fear Factor.

Dutch Origins

The concept of Fear Factor was not developed in the United States. In fact, the show’s origins can be traced to the Netherlands, to a show called Now or Neverland, which featured a similar stunt-based concept (via The Things).

It was developed by Endemol USA, a Dutch media company. After its success in the European market, it was rebranded and renamed. The show tabbed Joe Rogan as its leading man, and finally, Fear Factor was born.


Fear Factor originally aired on NBC, although it was later revived on MTV. It was quite the novel concept for the network, but it was not aired because fans were specifically clamoring for a stunt-based game show.

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NBC producers were looking for something catchy and entertaining enough to compete with CBC’s hit show, Survivor. They made the right decision, as Fear Factor became a talking point at water coolers across the United States, standing toe-to-toe with CBS’s already-established brand.

Can’t Compete With American Idol

The first couple of seasons of Fear Factor went swimmingly. Ratings were steady and excellent, and the show had firmly asserted itself as being more than a flash in the pan. Then American Idol started to pick up speed, and that spelled doom for Joe Rogan and company.

Producers tried to prop the show up by introducing more extreme stunts and a few innovative concepts, but alas, it did not work out. The show hemorrhaged viewers, as Idol dominated Tuesday nights. Ultimately, Fear Factor was canceled in 2006 after six seasons (it was later revived twice).

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No Risks

Contestants were often tasked with consuming something vile on Fear Factor, usually during the second of three stunts. Some of these disgusting things included silkworms, pig livers, sheep eyes, and buffalo testicles.

On the surface, these tasks seemed genuinely dangerous for the contestants. Fear not though, for all of the disgusting things they had to consume were tested by the USDA first. They were all safe for consumption. Couple that with the extensive health screenings contestants were subjected to before the show, and they were actually in very little danger.

Fear Factor On Game Boy Advance

Fear Factor experienced a meteoric rise in popularity when it first aired, so much so, its success trickled into the gaming world. At the time, the Game Boy Advance was one of the most popular handheld gaming consoles.

Put those two together, and you have the Fear Factor video game. Creating a successful TV show does not always translate into a successful video game, however. It did not sell well at all and received scathingly negative reviews. The did try, though!

Questionable Episode

After watching Fear Factor, one might be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that there is nothing too gross for a stunt. If contestants can eat buffalo testicles, then they can eat anything, right? This was not actually the case.

The episode entitled “Hee Haw! Hee Haw!” never reached television sets, and for good reason. The stunt in question that was deemed too revolting, even by this show’s standards, involved contestants drinking donkey urine and donkey semen, the amount of which depended on a horseshoe toss. Unsurprisingly, this crossed a line with producers. At least, the USDA determined that the urine and semen were safe for consumption!

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