A trope that became popular during the 2000 decade but dates back as far as the 50s
: a given story will feature or take place in an extreme reality TV show where candidates (sometimes convicted criminals
) are forced to do degrading or violent things, sometime even kill each other
, just for the pleasure of fans all over the country or the world. If the show is "soft", they will just live constantly under the eye of the camera
. The show will often include some participation of the audience like chosing which candidate to "eliminate"
. They will enjoy their sadness, breakdowns and betrayals, as if they were watching a movie. Such shows almost always have insane audience ratings, leading to the obvious implication that Humans Are Bastards
that love to see others suffer. However, Stylistic Suck
may intervene as the obvious immorality of the show can be used to contrast the normal morality of the universe the show is broadcast in.
It may or may not be a Blood Sport
, but expect to see a Corrupt Corporate Executive
counting his bills and grinning with delight while comtemplating audience numbers. Deadly Game
would be a Sub-Trope
. It can obviously overlap with Sadist Show
Of course, for a few years it has been pretty much Truth in Television
(minus putting the contestants in deathly hazards of course), but Bile Fascination
has its limits and such shows are in decline nowadays. For that matter, see Point-and-Laugh Show
No Real Life Examples, Please!
[[folder:Anime And Manga:]]
- Deadman Wonderland: The purpose of the titular prison is to force inmates to do degrading things for people's entertainment. However, that's not its true purpose.
- The Truman Show is probably the Trope Codifier for the modern version, and ironically gave the idea to some real-life producers in the first place…
- In The Condemned, a bunch of prisoners condemned to death are dropped on an island to battle for the pleasure of the viewers.
- The German movie Das Millionenspiel features a show where a contestant has to survive a manhunt for seven days to win the million deutsch mark prize. Similar to The Running Man, but as early as 1970!
- Death Watch (1980) is about a woman with a terminal illness in a world where such diseases are rare. She is surreptitiously recorded and broadcast without her consent.
- The Running Man, The Film of the Book of Stephen King's novel. In addition to the title game (which includes convicted criminals this time), there was a commercial for another game called Climbing for Dollars (Watch the clip here). It featured a contestant climbing a rope over a pit filled with angry Dobermans while pulling money off the rope. Partway up a pipe would blast the contestant with gas to try and make them fall. If they did fall, the dogs were waiting.
- In The Muppets there is mention of (and we see a little bit of) Punch Teacher.
- The Running Man - The protagonist Richards is hunted down for sport on a TV game show. He volunteered for the show to try and get money to save his sick daughter. The book also has a couple of other gameshows - there's one where people with heart problems are wired up to a heart monitor, put on a treadmill, and asked questions. Every time they get it wrong, the treadmill speeds up.
- Stephen King also wrote The Long Walk: a hundred teens compete to see who could walk the longest - those go too slow or fast get shot.
- Acide Sulfurique, from Amélie Nothomb, features a woman named Pannonique who is abducted and forcefully thrown into a TV Show named "Concentration". She and the other "candidates" are horribly ill-treated and two of them are publicly executed everyday (first randomly, then chosen by the public). The heroine tries to resist by being emotionless and not giving viewers what they want, but that makes her their favorite instead. Needless to say, the book raised quite a scandal when it came out.
- ''The Hunger Games" A group ranging from prepubescent children to young adults must be "reaped" every year from across the totalitarian nation of Panem. They are then taken to the capital city to be "Tributes" in a live gameshow of murder, mayhem and madness.
- Robert Sheckley:
- His 1953 short story, "The Seventh Victim", which was made into a film called The Tenth Victim in 1965, and a full novel the next year, featured contestants taking turns being hunter and hunted in a fully televised deadly game.
- His 1958 story, "The Prize of Peril" was similar, but with a more traditional game show format, and is the basis for the German film Das Millionenspiel and considered a probable inspiration for Stephen King's The Running Man.
[[folder:Live Action TV:]]
- On Doctor Who, the Doctor and rose visit a tv broadcast space station where the whole population can get drafted into reality tv shows where loss equals vaporization. well, it ultimately turns out they're getting transmatted to dalek ships where they will be liquified and some of their cells turned into daleks, but the point is the same.
- In Sliders, criminal trials are conducted via evil game show in "Dead Man Sliding".
- The new Outer Limits episode 'Judgment Day' (season 6, episode 1) involves a TV where crime victims' families hunt down and kill the apparent killers. The guy the episode focuses on didn't do it, was framed by the show's producer, and uses the show to clear himself.
- In one episode of Judge John Deed, a contestant in a reality show where contestants are divided into "slaves" and "masters" is murdered during a live broadcast.
- In the mid 2000s, the French show Les Guignols de l'info parodied this with Patrick Lelay and Etienne Mougeotte, the leaders of the biggest French channel TF1. They showed them in competition with M6 to find the most overt-the-top reality show possible, one being called "Rape Island".
- Ratchet: Deadlocked sends the hero in the survival show produced by Gleeman Vox, Dreadzone, where other heroes lost their lives. Going Commando and Up You Arsenal also had arenas called the Mega Corp. Games and Anihilation Nation, respectively.
- Smash TV: This game was about a TV show in which the participant had to do an onslaught of many individuals to get cash prizes... including the infinite ammo thing but it included a lot of killing other human beings for "entertainment".
- As revealed on South Park the entirety of planet Earth is this. Some aliens dumped a bunch of humans and other animals on the planet and just watch the outcome.
[[folder: Web Comics]]
- Last Res0rt supposedly centers around a reality show where condemned criminals fight for survival.
- Schlock Mercenary offers a treatise on the link between social upheaval and depraved entertainment, though the reality show the Toughs were hired to take down was a fairly normal fashion show.