The 2001 film '''''Series 7: The Contenders''''', written and directed by Daniel Minahan, serves up a dark and violent satire of American {{Reality Show}}s.

''The Contenders'' offers up a unique form of entertainment for its loyal viewers: the show's contestants must kill each other until only one "Contender" remains standing. These contestants have no choice as to whether they want to compete; once a contestant finds out that they've become a Contender, they must participate in the game, as any Contender can kill any other Contender from the moment of notification in any way without any legal repercussions.

Winning the show once doesn't get a Contender anything but a longer lease on life, either -- a Contender must win the show three times to earn a full release from the program. In the show's seventh season (or "series" in British terminology), two-time champion Dawn Lagarto hopes to win for a third time and gain her freedom; to do so, she must outlive five other Contenders -- one of which, the terminally-ill Jeffrey Norman, happens to have had a prior romantic relationship with Dawn.


!! ''Series 7: The Contenders'' contain examples of the following tropes:

* AntiClimax: What really happened in the cinema. It's why [[spoiler:Jeffrey is in the hospital bed looking bruised with no visible gunshot wound]]
* AssholeVictim: Tony. Unemployed blue-collar worker, coke habit, anger management issues, topped by [[spoiler:an attempt to flee the show while holding his baby daughter hostage.]]
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Emergency room nurse Connie seems nice enough -- until she expresses her contempt for the people who come into her ER. And that's before she starts killing people...
* CelebrityIsOverrated: It's clear no one really ''wants'' to appear on ''The Contenders.'' Dawn, in particular, regularly snaps at her assigned cameraman.
* [[ChekhovsGun Chekhov's Safety Catch]][=/=]NiceJobBreakingItHero: Lindsay's parents constantly tell her to leave the safety on. [[spoiler:Lindsay's fumbling to switch it off during an encounter gives Franklin ample time to beat her to death.]]
* ConspiracyTheorist: Franklin not only lines the walls of his trailer with [[TinfoilHat tinfoil]], but after [[spoiler:killing Lindsay in the mall]], tries to convince the onlookers that the show is a fake - until [[spoiler:Connie kills him with a sniper rifle]].
* CountryMatters: Dawn calls her estranged sister the C-word before taking the latter's SUV at gunpoint.
* CrapsackWorld: People end up drafted into a reality show where they murder each other.
* DeadlyGame: ''The Contenders'' is a reality TV show where contestants must kill other contestants to "win".
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Jeffrey tries to kill himself on three separate occasions. He is not successful.]]
** [[spoiler:The third one didn't actually happen, and Dawn was beaten to death after the AntiClimax]]
* GoingHomeAgain: Averted. Dawn is [[SarcasmMode less than thrilled]] that Series 7 is taking place in her hometown, seeing how her mom kicked her out of the house at 17 for having an abortion - not to mention that the guy who knocked her up is one of her new opponents...
* {{Goth}}: Dawn and Jeffrey in high school.
* GunStruggle: Two of these happen: one between Connie and Dawn, and one between Jeff and Connie.
* HandWave: Numerous background details, such as how ''The Contenders'' became powerful enough to clear legalized murder as a form of television programming, never receive an explanation. This works in part because the film only shows what the program itself would have aired on TV -- in other words, only what the producers want viewers to see.
* HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday: Jeffrey admits he went through a "gay phase" after high school, which ended when he married Doria. Unfortunately, [[spoiler:after his failed suicide attempt via overdose, Doria outs him on-camera while he's in the hospital]].
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: It's debatable which is worse: what the contenders are willing to do to survive, or the bland acceptance of the existence of the show.
* HuntingTheMostDangerousGame: It's people hunting each other. For TV.
* LeFilmArtistique: Dawn and Jeffrey's terrible high school student film.
* LotteryOfDoom: New contestants end up chosen by via a (seemingly) random lottery involving Social Security numbers.
* MamaBear: Dawn insists she's only doing all this killing to protect her unborn child. [[{{Hypocrite}} On the other hand, she's a really efficient killer...]]
* MaternityCrisis: [[spoiler:Dawn has Connie cornered and at gunpoint - and her water breaks. Followed by a ScreamingBirth scene in which Connie must simultaneously deal with a 911 operator and a breach delivery while holding ''Dawn'' at gunpoint.]]
* MercyKill: Connie admits on-camera that, despite her job as TheMedic, she's euthanized the occasional patient.
* MustNotDieAVirgin: Lindsay's boyfriend invokes this in an effort to get her to put out. He fails.
* NobodyPoops: Averted Trope; Dawn catches Connie on the toilet.
* OnTheNext: An example of this trope ends the film (and casts a totally different light on the climax).
* [[PrecisionFStrike Precision S-Strike]]: [[spoiler:Jeffrey's verbal reaction when he realizes that not only did he survive his ''third'' suicide attempt, but he is now by default the reigning champion of The Contenders as it heads into Series 8...]]
* PregnantBadass: Do '''not''' piss off eight-months-pregnant Dawn.
* PreviouslyOn: The film opens with the end of Series 6 of ''The Contenders'': Dawn marches into a convenience store and kills that season's last contestant.
* RealityTelevision: This film offers up a pitch-black satire of the entire genre.
* SeparatedByACommonLanguage: Despite being an American film with an American cast and framed as an American reality show titled ''The Contenders'', the film's title employs the British usage "series" to describe individual seasons of a television program. (The film starts with the end of the sixth season and follows the seventh season of ''The Contenders''.)
* ShoutOut: Daniel Minahan named the main character, Dawn Lagarto, after a childhood friend of his.
* [[ShowWithinAShow Show Within A Movie]]: It's the central premise of the film.
* SlashedThroat: Tony threatens to do this to himself.
** In a flashback, Dawn takes out one of her previous opponents this way.
* TakeAThirdOption: Dawn and Jeffrey attempt this when [[spoiler:they take the camera crew hostage and attempt to escape the show]].
* UnreliableVoiceover: The narrator, played by Will Arnett, makes a cameo onscreen at the climax. What he says doesn't always match up with what happens on-screen. The "dramatization" scenes also appear dishonest (and potentially faked).
** The show claims that it picks contestants via a random lottery. That claim becomes suspicious when Dawn's third go-round takes place in her hometown and her old boyfriend becomes one of the other Contenders.
* WinYourFreedom: A contestant must win the show three times to earn freedom from ever participating again. Dawn gets offered this at the end.