Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: An episode of Fear Factor never aired because a contestant died during the filming.
One of the most common questions that I get answered involves the popular reality series, Fear Factor, which aired on NBC for six seasons between 2001 and 2006 (plus a short-lived revival from 2011-2012).
The show, hosted by Joe Rogan, involved contestants competing with one another in a series of stunts that were either physically taxing or psychologically taxing. Like, for instance, seeing how long contestants can remain in a cylinder filled with snakes…
Now, some of the action-oriented stunts, like the Sky See Saw, could look pretty darn dangerous…
Obviously, everyone is decked out in advanced safety harnesses, but it is not like those things have never gone wrong. People die on “safe” amusement park rides every once in a while, as well. So what people keep asking me is whether a contestant ever died competing on Fear Factor (people also wanted to know the same thing about MTV’s reality series, Fear). A couple of people asked if that was why the show was canceled the first time around.
Read on for the answer!
Simply put, no.
In fact, the only time Fear Factor ever pulled an episode was when people freaked out about an episode of the revival series where two contestants were challenged to drink donkey sperm. The episode aired overseas, but not in the United States.
A man once sued NBC, claiming that one of the stunts was so gross that it elevated his blood pressure until he became lightheaded, vomited and then hit his head badly when he passed out. A judge ultimately threw that case out of court on First Amendment grounds.
In 2011, a contestant was injured during a stunt gone wrong, but she was not seriously hurt.
So no, Fear Factor had some crazy stuff happen on it, but no one ever died.
The legend is…
Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of television.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.