Silkworms and Sheep Eyes: ‘Fear Factor’ Wasn’t Actually as Dangerous as People Think

Fear Factor is a controversial reality TV show that was a staple of early 2000s television. Featuring a variety of gross-out challenges that tested viewers’ tolerance levels as well as the limits of contestants, Fear Factor regularly made headlines due to the extreme nature of some challenges.

These days, Fear Factor is no longer filming new episodes — but many fans retain a fascination for the show, as well as any interesting tidbits of behind-the-scenes knowledge that surface. 

When did ‘Fear Factor’ first debut on television?

'Fear Factor' host Joe Rogan
‘Fear Factor’ host Joe Rogan | Michael Weaver/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Fear Factor first premiered on television in 2001. At the time, nothing like it had ever been seen on television, and viewers gravitated to the reality stunt series right away.

The premise of the show pits contestants against each other in a series of challenges, many designed to appear extremely dangerous or gross. The winning contestants would receive a large cash prize. The format remained relatively consistent during the first version of the series. 

Joe Rogan hosted the show when it debuted. At the time, he was best known as a standup comedian and MMA commentator, but Fear Factor introduced him to a whole new audience of fans and helped to kickstart his hosting career.

Although Fear Factor was controversial, mainly due to the nature of the challenges and the gross things that contestants were asked to consume, the show remained on NBC until 2006. 

The show has gone through a few different revivals

RELATED: The Horrifying ‘Fear Factor’ Episode That Was Too Gross to Air on Television

The first iteration of Fear Factor was canceled in 2006, after five straight years on the air. However, the network revived the series in 2011, and it made a highly-publicized return to TV. Joe Rogan even returned as the host, much to the delight of viewers.

Still, the show seemed doomed not to last, and in 2012, it was once again summarily canceled. 

Showrunners were determined to give the show another chance, and five years after Fear Factor went off the air for the second time, MTV revived the series. Hosted by the rapper and actor Ludacris, the newest version of Fear Factor featured stunts that were inspired by pop culture, mainly viral videos and various urban legends.

Although the show definitely got an injection of new life and likely earned many new fans, that wasn’t enough to make it last longer than a year, and in August 2018, Fear Factor was canceled. 

‘Fear Factor’ wasn’t actually as dangerous as it seemed to viewers

There are no new episodes of Fear Factor currently filming. However, the series has found a new audience of viewers online, through various YouTube clips and unaired footage.

Therefore, fans are learning what they can about the history of the show, and of the things that happened behind the scenes.

According to Screen Rant, many of the challenges were not actually as dangerous or disgusting as they appeared to be on the show. The report states that prior to the gross things being consumed (including animal parts such as pig livers, sheep eyes, and buffalo testicles) they were all tested by the USDA, to make sure that they were actually safe to be eaten.

Additionally, according to the same report, the contestants went through extensive health screenings to make sure that they didn’t have any underlying health conditions that would cause them to have a bad reaction to any of the challenge items.

Therefore, the stunts performed on the show weren’t actually quite as terrifying as they might have initially seemed to be — although they definitely still grossed both contestants and viewers out.