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->''"The ultimate game show would be one where the losing contestant was killed."''
-->-- '''Creator/ChuckBarris''', creator of ''Series/TheGongShow'' among others

The GameShowAppearance from Hell. The characters are forced to compete in a dangerous contest where assault, battery, and even murder are either encouraged or actually the objective of the game. Tends to lend itself better to film than television, since a filmmaker can kill off characters with impunity.

It's common for these stories to take place TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture, and under a [[{{Dystopia}} corrupt government]], in order to {{Handwave}} the fact that they're basically murdering people for sport. Usually, the game is televised to legions of bloodthirsty people hungry for BreadAndCircuses, thus raising the question: Who are the real murderers? The contestants fighting for survival, or the spectators cheering them on? [[note]]([[RhetoricalQuestionBlunder It's the contestants. Duh.]])[[/note]]

A post-modern take on the Deadly Game is to frame it as RealityTV, à la ''Series/{{Survivor}}'', and a subtrope of ImmoralRealityShow.

A type of PublicExecution. May contain a DuelToTheDeath or a ForcedPrizeFight. HuntingTheMostDangerousGame is related, but generally lacks the "contest" element, and usually doesn't contain quite so much social commentary. A BloodSport is a Deadly Game version of a modern spectator sport. Usually has a crew of {{Condemned Contestant}}s. For an ancient counterpart, see GladiatorGames. Subtrope of InvoluntaryBattleToTheDeath.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Episode 2 of ''Anime/WeissKreuz'' does this with a game of "Human Chess" that doesn't particularly resemble chess, but which does involve forcing competitors to fight one another to death.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** [[ManipulativeBastard Kabuto]] pulls this in one chapter. Basically tells a bunch of random ninja in his prison to kill each other and whoever is alive at the end goes free. He was lying though, as his plan was to quickly find who was strongest and [[GrandTheftMe Orochimaru steals the winner's body]].
** In the Three Tails arc, [[FillerVillain Guren]] does this with a group of Orochimaru's prisoners from a soon-to-be-abandoned hideout. She halts the battle after most of them are eliminated and takes a group of them with her, but kills all but a few of them when they turn on her; the remaining ones become the QuirkyMinibossSquad for the arc.
* ''Anime/YuGiOh'':
** The eponymous protagonist has a {{Superpowered|Evil Side}} AntiHero [[SuperpoweredEvilSide side]] who has the power to turn any game at all into this. Early on, many villains use this on Yugi.
** The Death-T Arc in the manga is a series of Deadly Games orchestrated by Kaiba that he puts the heroes through [[DisproportionateRetribution in retaliation for his first loss to Yugi]], but almost all of them are either blatantly rigged or tipped overwhelmingly in Kaiba's favor. For example, the first one is like Laser Tag, but while the heroes only have toy guns, their opponents are [[ProfessionalKiller trained assassins]] with lethal version of the weapons. The only way they can survive is by CuttingTheKnot when they can and outsmarting their foes when they can't. Kaiba himself doesn't cheat in the FinalBattle, although his deck is ''much'' stronger than Yugi's from the start.
* ''{{Manga/Gantz}}''. [[spoiler:It's the entire point of the game.]]
* Not quite deadly, but ''Manga/LiarGame'''s titular game leaves most of its participants with crippling, 100-million-yen or more debts which must be repaid by any means necessary...
* Most of the matches in the Dark Tournament in ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' end with the loser's death. Similarly, Elder Toguro mentions that his wish if he wins the tournament is to kill the surviving members of Team Urameshi and all their friends, forcing the team to win or be massacred. Mostly averted in the Demon World Unification Tournament, as a result of Yusuke's insistence that they refrain from killing when they can.
* In the English translation of the manga version of ''Manga/BattleRoyale'' (original novel listed below), the Program the students are forced into is apparently broadcast as a television show across Japan. In the novel and movie, only the winner is revealed to the public; how much of the game itself that gets revealed to the public is unclear.
** In the novel and ''real'' manga, it's ostensibly a "military experiment", so the Defense Forces of Greater East Asia will study the strategies and improvisations used by civilians under stress. Not much of the Program is revealed publicly apart from causes of death and the bloody, smiling winner; and parents are encouraged to view it as an unique form of military conscription and a patriotic duty. In the end, Sakamochi/Kitano says that this is all bullshit and the Program just a way for the dictatorship to terrorize their population into obedience.
* ''Manga/DeadmanWonderland'' is based around this.
* Played with in an issue of an early ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'' manga by Tatsuya Shinjyouji. [[PowerTrio Kyo, Daimon and Benimaru]] have to battle [[AmazonBrigade Mai, Yuri and King]] in the streets of Osaka instead of any official KOF stadium, but in a variation it's not to save their own lives, but [[spoiler: to save Kyo's kidnapped girlfriend Yuki, locked in an hotel room that contains a time bomb.]] The only way [[spoiler: her kidnappers will tell Kyo and Co. where poor Yuki is, so they can rescue her before she's blown into smithereens]] is to have them win their fight in a certain time limit. And for worse, [[spoiler: Kyo is forced to carry a cellphone that they'll use to send him the "coordinates"... and Rugal's envoys use it to "remind" him that he and his friends are running out of time.]] They win in the end, so [[spoiler: they're given the instructions, manage to locate Yuki and then they bail her out of the room literally seconds away from the explosion, and Kyo even tackles her to the ground to shield her with his own body... but it turns out the bomb was actually a fake, and Yuki never was in life-threatening danger. The one behind the deal, KOF host Rugal Berstein, was just {{troll}}ing Kyo and Co. ForTheEvulz. ]]
* ''Manga/{{Underdog}}'' features a year-long tournament, wherein the goal is to be the sole survivor of the 200 participants that initially entered. In each round, a player wins by killing their opponent through indirect means only (meaning that they can't directly injure their opponent, confine them in a way that causes their death, or hire others to kill them.) Otherwise, anything goes.
* The manga ''Manga/{{Enigma}}''. The characters involved have to utilize their respective super powers to solve the puzzles in order to save their own lives.
%%* The manga ''Manga/CryEye.''
%%* The manga ''Manga/{{Btooom}}''.
* The manga ''Manga/{{Doubt}}'' and its sequel Judge revolve around this.
* The manga ''Manga/{{Diece}}'' is about death games modeled after chess. Players are either on the white side or the black side, and are assigned the role of king, knight, bishop, etc. The games mostly consist of getting out of dangerous situations alive before the time limit is up, and slaughtering a ton of zombies, but the two king's "teams" are pitted against each other, too. The games will only end when one king kills the other.
* The main character of ''Manga/BloodyJunkie'' ends up in one of these when he tries to find answers to his brother's disappearance.
* In ''Anime/EdenOfTheEast'', Akira, along with 11 other people, become players in a game where the goal is to [[spoiler: "become the savior" of Japan]], armed with ten billion yen, a strange cell phone and a mysterious woman named Juiz who can make anything happen for a price. [[spoiler: If someone uses their money in a way that is deemed "unfit" to saving Japan, they end up dragging their feet and being too passive, or if the player runs out of money, then they are "eliminated" from the game.]]
** Subverted [[spoiler:when it's revealed the players aren't actually killed but have their memories erased. The Selecao that actually did die was a coincidence due to DeathByWomanScorned.]]
* Similarly, ''Manga/FutureDiary''. 12 people have magic diaries that can predict the future. The winner gets to become god. The winner wins by being the last person standing. ''Anything is allowed.''
* ''{{Manga/Basilisk}}'' is this trope combined with a Romeo and Juliet plot with ninjas.
* ''Manga/RealAccount''. 10,000 people on the titular social network are summoned to cyberspace, participating in a game televised across Japan. The key to surviving is the number of followers one has on the social network, [[OhCrap so long as one has at least one follower; these followers can drop out at any time.]] Of course, that isn't a safeguard against death itself, and if one player happens to die with a positive follower count, his followers die with him. It separates itself from other "death games" by actually having the audience both be ''participants'' and ''murderers'' in its choice to stick with or leave the players.
* The entire premise of ''Manga/KamisamaNoIutoori.'' Japanese schoolchildren are forced to play supernatural life-or-death versions of common children's games.
* ''LightNovel/MagicalGirlRaisingProject'' starts off as a MagicalGirl-themed phone game where some players are secretly given the power to transform into their avatars. Then the MentorMascot informs them that [[BlatantLies there isn't enough magic to go around]], so from now on they'll collect "Magical Candies" by doing good deeds, and the player with the lowest total at the end of each week will be eliminated. Naturally, elimination turns out to mean death. What's more, the players soon realize that [[FromBadToWorse even if you have the lowest points, you can escape elimination if another player dies first]].
* Along the lines of ''Manga/LiarGame'', the titular game of ''Manga/TomodachiGame'' leaves its losers with crippling debt.
* The titular video sharing site of ''Manga/DeadTube'' frequently poses challenges to its members, and whomever posts a video that gets the highest score wins. While it usually isn't stated that such a video includes murder or rape, those do tend to get the highest score and a fairly generous monetary prize... and a Get Out Of Jail Free card for any crimes they committed.
* ''Manga/{{Btooom}}'' has 32 'contestants'. Every one's a person who's been charged with being a worthless drain on society, and each has a chip embedded in their left hand. Anyone who collects eight of these chips total (via murder, naturally) gets off the island of death.
* In ''Anime/JuniTaisenZodiacWar'', the titular Juni Taisen is a tournament where twelve [[EasternZodiac Eastern Zodiac-themed]] mercenaries are poisoned and pitted against each other in a battle to the death. The last one standing is granted an antidote and a wish.

[[folder:Audio Play]]
* Side Two of Creator/TheFiresignTheatre's ''Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him'' album includes a sketch of a game show called "Beat the Reaper", in which the contestant must identify the deadly disease he's been injected with in time to receive the antidote before it kills him.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Sort of mentioned in a story arc of ''{{Wolverine}}'' by Frank Tieri. It featured a version of Survivor set in Alaska. When an ancient Francophile vampire wizard showed up and started killing the contestants, the network boss thought it made a great show that could boost the slipping sales. If only the vampire could contain himself and would only eat the people voted off...
* In ComicBook/UltimateMarvel, Krakoa is an island where mutant criminals are hunted down as a televised (and/or online) series. The X-Men end up there twice, and one time Spider-Man gets pulled along with them.
* ...and, of course, Mojo's Mojoworld, where the X-Men ended up anytime somebody wanted to make fun of television. Arcade's Murderworld also fits the bill, usually involving some kind of giant pinball machine. For the record? Mojo is a morbidly obese blob with mechanical spider legs and Arcade wears a leisure suit. You decide which is more repulsive.
* The ''Lobo'' story "Unamerican Gladiators" features a deadly game show taking part on a planet that was a gigantic violence-themed theme park. The contestants had to complete a number of tasks, trying to kill each other while avoiding deadly traps... as well as answer some quiz questions to win valuable prizes.
* ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'':
** This showed up on at least three separate occasions; one early story featured an underground game show entitled 'You Bet Your Life' where stupid, greedy saps wagered the lives of their closest loved ones (and their own) on trivia questions. A later story had a failed game show host put his old rivals through a crazy contest with endless fatal results "Congratulations! You win a golden bullet!" BAM! A third story saw a quiz show where a contestant's correct answers would let him to pick a number between 1 and 10 which would spring a booby trap in his rival contestant's own city block, one of the numbers triggering a flesh disintegrator planted beneath their own seat; the show's host didn't particularly care if correct answers were actually given though and would let contestants pick a number, anyway.
** Actual '''wars''' between cities in ''Dredd'' are sometimes conducted as a Deadly Game between small teams of Judges representing each city, as a less-destructive alternative to nuking still more of the planet. Such wars are always televised, complete with running sportscaster-style commentary.
* ''{{Deadpool}}: Games of Death'' sends the merc with a mouth on a retrieval mission on an underground game show where contestants fight for their survival against the daily challenges, as well as the deadly traps contained within.
* ''[[ComicBook/TheSimpsons The Simpsons Comic]]'':
** Homer has landed in at least one of these, "Burnsimoto's Castle". Three guesses who produced it.
--> "This game show, banned in every state except [[WhereTheHellIsSpringfield our state]] and, of course, Utah, will soon send three convicts, two mental patients, a homeless guy, a circus freak and [[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers one lazy couch potato]] to unspeakable and untimely deaths. In [[KentBrockmanNews this reporter's opinion]], just the touch of Darwinism our society needs."
** Another comic has Mr. Burns take part in a version of ''America's Got Talent'' where he gets to release the hounds on contestants whose performances he disapproves of.
* In ''[[Franchise/{{Batman}} Joker's Asylum]]'', the Joker takes over an ordinary game show, with the intention of making it one of these, by killing anyone who gets the questions wrong. [[spoiler: It turns out the Joker, for once, had no intention of killing anyone. He just likes terrifying the contestants, who believe he is going to kill them, and is actually recording the producer, who is ordering his people to keep the police out in the hopes the Joker will kill someone, as it will boost their ratings. The point was to show how messed up the producer and the people at home watching the show are for going along with him]].
* The televised battles of downtown Chicago's "poli-clubs" serve as this in ''Comicbook/AmericanFlagg''.
* The entire premiss of ''Comicbook/AvengersArena'' has teen heroes off Marvel being forced into one of these at the machinations of the villain Arcade. The first few covers contain homages to several others series using this trope.
* ''ComicBook/{{Futurama}}:'' An early issue has ''Who's Dying To Be A Millionaire'', where after getting into the high-numbers, a very large death ray is used on contestants who get answers wrong, starting with a hippie, much to Bender's joy. Unsurprisingly, Morbo is the host, and [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Mom]] is behind it. Fry enters, and is saved from certain death only because of Scruffy's "reading material".
* In ''ComicBook/RedRobin'' Tim ends up stuck between two assassin groups, the Council of Spiders and the League of Assassins, after the Spiders decide it would be a fun game to try and murder a bunch of League ninjas and kill Ra's al Ghul.

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/TheLionKingAdventures'', the Series Four story ''The Interceptor'' revolves around this trope. It doubles as a parody of a [[Series/{{Interceptor}} similarly named game show]], too.
* ''WebComic/CuantaVida'' heavily implies that this is why [[VideoGame/TeamFortress2 the RED and BLU teams]] are in "2fort".

* The film adaptations of ''Film/BattleRoyale'' and ''Film/TheHungerGames''.
* ''Film/Series7TheContenders'' uses the reality show device.
* The 2007 movie ''Film/TheCondemned'' keeps the setting in the present day, and {{handwave}}s the legal issues of it by putting the proceedings on a deserted island, and broadcasting them via the Internet.
* Let's not forget the "Tryouts" that the Joker gives to those thugs in ''Film/TheDarkKnight''.
* The ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' series is based entirely around "games" where people are forced to either torture themselves or die painfully.
* A voluntary version occurs in ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_10th_Victim The 10th Victim]]''.
* This is the premise of the ''Film/DeathRace''.
* The 2009 movie ''Film/{{Gamer}}'' starring Gerard Butler. Death row convicts can allow themselves to be implanted with Nanomachines that allow someone else to control their motor functions. If that someone else is good enough to make it through 30 battles with them, they are released. However, the true terrors are the others in the game, normal inmates who are stuck looping silly behaviors like sweeping up the battlefield or flashing their breasts to the audience. [[HalfwayPlotSwitch However, the movie focuses on something else after thirty minutes.]]
* Given the trailer, it seems this is what ''Film/TheBelkoExperiment'' is. The movie starts where 80 white-collar Americans are locked in their office building located in Bogotá, Colombia; an unknown voice coming over the intercom says that if 30 of them are ''not'' dead in an hour, 60 of them will be killed. Given the other scenes in the trailer, it seems most are indeed willing to murder their co-workers to escape.
* ''Film/TheTournament'' has world-class assassins competing for the top spot.
* ''13 Tzameti'' (and the American remake ''13'') features competitive RussianRoulette. The protagonist [[DeadPersonImpersonation takes the place of a contestant]], but has no idea what's involved until it's too late to back out.
* ''Film/TheRunningMan'': See entry under Literature for details. It seemed the dystopian future setting had more televised games like the eponymous one; there was a commercial for another game called ''Climbing for Dollars'' 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 him fall.
* The German TV movie "Das Millionenspiel" from 1970 is about a man who has to survive seven days while being hunted by a gang of killers. Prize if he survives: One million German marks. The population can help him or rat him out, as they like. Some people took the film for real and asked whether they could become either the candidate or the hunters. Unfortunately, for legal reasons the movie was forbidden to be broadcast for almost thirty years (had to do with being based on the ShortStory "The Prize of Peril" by Robert Sheckley.)
* ''Deathrow Gameshow'': Prisoners on death-row compete in deadly games for a chance at a reprieve.
* ''[[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286975/ Slashers]]'', about a Japanese game show producing an All-American special episode. Contestants entered a maze-like paintball course, converted for ambiance, to try to outlive three AxeCrazy, [[EvilIsHammy crowd-pleasing]] professional maniacs. The one and only camera was also a character, the game show's cameraman, provoking a lot of observations whenever the contestants became aware of him.
* The 2011 film Film/{{Freerunner}} is a Deadly Game run for the amusement of bored plutocrats around the world who bet on the survival of the Freerunners.
* ''Film/PanicButton''
%%* ''Film/MeanGuns''
* Films set in the UsefulNotes/RomanEmpire will often feature gladiatorial combat, which was TruthInTelevision for the era, although fighting to the ''death'' was rare among actual gladiators. Well known examples include:
** ''Film/{{Spartacus}}'' about a [[BasedOnATrueStory real gladiator's revolt in 70 BC]].
** ''Film/BenHur'' with the only slightly less dangerous sport of chariot racing.
** ''Film/{{Gladiator}}'' the most recent such film.
* In one of the last cities in the frozen, dying world of ''Film/{{Quintet}}'', the people occupy themselves with a tournament based on the eponymous board game, for lack of anything else to do while waiting for humanity to die out.
* Video games in the ''Film/{{Tron}}'' universe are where [[WesternAnimation/TronUprising hapless]] [[VideoGame/TronEvolution Programs]] ([[VideoGame/TronDeadlyDiscs and]] [[VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh displaced]] [[Film/TronLegacy Users]]) get sent to get killed for the entertainment of other Programs (and, as implied in the first film, for arcade players in the analog world, who have no idea what they are actually doing)!
* In ''Film/ThirteenSins'', contestants are charged with 13 tasks of increasing deadliness with increasing rewards. Quitting at any time forfeits all of the cash. Contestants are observed via the ubiquitous security cameras.
* In Music/RobZombie's ''Film/ThirtyOne'' contestants have to kill their opponents or survive within a period of twelve hours to 'win' the game.
* The prisoners in ''Film/BreathingRoom'' are told that they're in a Deadly Game and that one of them will earn their freedom. [[spoiler:It's actually a rigged training exercise for deep cover operatives]].
* ''Film/{{Rollerball}}:'' The highest number of deaths during a game is nine, according to a Rollerball statistics fan. This is before the rule changes introduced during the film.

* UrExample is probably ''Literature/TheMostDangerousGame'' (1924), a short story by Richard Connell, subsequently adapted as an eponymous film. It is a TropeNamer of HuntingTheMostDangerousGame.
* Creator/RobertSheckley was probably a TropeCodifier. "The Prize of Peril" was one of the earliest examples, inspiring many later versions. The short story posits that shows where people literally risk their lives have become extremely popular, and one of the most popular involves the contestant being hunted by criminals who have been given permission to kill. Viewers can call in to offer advice and help to the contestant—or to his hunters!
** Even earlier is his short story "The Seventh Victim", adapted into film as "The Tenth Victim" (and subsequently novelized as such by the same author).
* The short science fiction story ''Survivor,'' by Walter F. Moudy, is set during the 2050 Olympic War Games between the US and Russia. The games are designed to make clear the horrors of war to the public, and are therefore televised. 100 soldiers on each side, with rifles, machine guns and mortars, are placed in a large camera-laced arena with battlefield terrain such as forests, hills and a lake, and must fight it out until all of one side is killed. The titular survivors are hailed as heroes, and the loser pays restitution to the winner. The broadcasters use color commentary, closeups, and special tech, much like sports. "Here's Private John Smith of Columbus, Ohio, a graduate of Johnson High School, running towards base -- ooh, he just got shot! Let's watch on slow-motion -- yes, you can see the bullet going into his throat, and our super-microphone confirms that his heart is no longer beating. Any comments, Jim?" "Well, it's obvious the Russians have slipped a sniper team in on the left flank, Bob, and that could be bad for Squad Two..."
** The creepy part is what happens to the "Survivor". His reward is to be not bound by any of the laws of his country, but he's still protected by them. The story ends with one of the viewers hearing his daughter will be another casualty of war.
* The short story "All the King's Horses" by Creator/KurtVonnegut centers on a group of 16 [=POWs=] and family members. The group's captor forces them to play chess for their lives, with themselves as the white pieces; every "piece" captured during the game is immediately dragged away and executed.
* Richard Bachman (a pen name for Creator/StephenKing) has a couple of examples:
** Both the book and [[TheFilmOfTheBook the movie]] ''Literature/TheRunningMan'' are centered on a deadly game, though the game itself is very, very different between the two. (The book presages the RealityTV form of the trope; the film version is ''Series/AmericanGladiators'' with death.)
** An earlier novel (''Literature/TheLongWalk'') also centered on the Deadly Game trope.
* More or less the point of the book ''Literature/BattleRoyale'' and the film and manga based on it, in which randomly-selected junior-high-school classes were singled out by TheGovernment, brought to an isolated island, and forced to fight each other to the death. Although this is less of a game than a government procedure.
* ''Literature/ThePendragonAdventure'' does this with its eighth book, the Quillan Games, in which Bobby has to participate in the titular games. If he doesn't win, he dies.
* In ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', as can be inferred by the title, this is the main plot. 24 teenagers aged 12 to 18 are drafted to compete in a televised fight to the death. The titular Games started out as a government intimidation tactic by the hand of the wealthy Capitol, to repress the rebellion efforts of the outlying Districts. The Capitol spun this as a form of entertainment for the Capitol, and it eventually evolved into a game, complete with interviews, spotlights and publicity.
** The basic plot is more or less similar to ''Literature/BattleRoyale'' (but it's a coincidence, as the author only learned of the Japanese one as she delivered it to the publisher). And the Games are televised and popularized and seen as big entertainment by the public, whereas in ''Literature/BattleRoyale'' it's a secretive program to suppress the nation's youth.
* In the ''Literature/GeronimoStilton'' book "Watch Your Whiskers, Geronimo!" the main character goes on a late-night game show called The Mousetrap, where contestants are strapped to a large mouse trap that snaps shut whenever they give a wrong answer. Since this is a children's series, the worst that will happen is Geronimo might lose his tail, which is still a pretty bad outcome, as far as Geronimo's concerned.
* ''Literature/{{Goosebumps}}'' has one of the most bizarre examples ever: ''The Beast From the East'', in which human children play a twisted game of "tag" against giant alien bear monsters, where the loser gets eaten. Rules include (but are not limited to):
## Stepping on a "Free lunch square" means you're an instant snack. (You can escape if a cloud happens to cast shade.)
## Touching a "Penalty Rock" gets you locked in a hanging cage, and you can only get out by eating a tarantula.
## Getting bitten by a snake actually gives you points.
* ''Literature/FridayThe13thTheJasonStrain'', which has several {{Condemned Contestant}}s put on a Southern island, with the winner getting a reduced sentence and transfer to a cushy minimum security facility. Along with Jason (a "special guest") the roster includes the framed main character, a mass murderer, a white supremacist, two serial killers, an Angel of Death nurse, a black widow, a serial rapist, a mob boss, and three street gang members.
** Though the ''Extreme Elimination 2'' plotline is later [[HalfwayPlotSwitch randomly dumped]] in favor of [[ZombieApocalypse a zombie-centric one]].
* In an Creator/AnthonyHorowitz short story, there was a reality quiz show where contestants had to answer trivia questions. If you got one wrong, you were killed in a rather gruesome way. [[spoiler: The "winner" is ultimately killed at the end by contestants on another show whose task is to steal a million pounds - so they just shoot him and take his prize money.]]
* ''The Big Question'', a book written by Creator/ChuckBarris, is about a game show where a group of people are asked questions about their chosen area of expertise, and when it comes down to one contestant, they're asked the titular Big Question; if they get it wrong, they are killed via lethal injection. [[spoiler:The premiere is heavily rigged, because nobody's going to watch it if they don't immediately prove they'll actually kill someone. The questions are favored towards a little old lady named Vera Bundle, and after missing the final question (an unanswerable open-ended one about the length of the Great Wall of China), she's killed. The show [[RealityEnsues sparks widespread outrage and is canceled two weeks later.]]]]
* Creator/KimNewman has an EpistolaryNovel-styled short story called ''Going To Series''. The backstage memos of a company gearing up to produce a show called ''It's A Madhouse!'' are laid out in such a way that you can tell that a Deadly Game is ''exactly'' what the organizers are hoping will happen, and see the lengths they are prepared to go to to ensure killer ratings. It was written and published before ''Series/BigBrother'' or ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' first aired. Newman later consulted for a few days on a Creator/{{Channel 4}} show called ''Regency House Party'' and showed the story to the production team; he claims "they endorsed its surprising accuracy".
* In "A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" by Charles Birkin, Nazi officers running a concentration camp challenge some of the Jewish prisoners to a "game". The prisoners have to score points by throwing steel balls at dummies representing the enemies of Nazi Germany, and the winner will be given a job in the kitchens where they will be able to steal scraps to give to their families. However, [[spoiler:the dummies turn out to be the severed and papered-over heads of the prisoners' loved ones, now horribly disfigured from the steel balls. One prisoner tries to attack the guards and is shot in the crotch and left to die in agony since they refuse to "waste" a bullet by putting him out of his misery. The others are just taken outside and shot so they can't talk.]]
* Deconstructed in ''[[Literature/GarrettPI Wicked Bronze Ambition]]'' with the Tournament of Swords, a secret competition in which hidden Operators compel twelve young members of the sorcerous Hill families to fight to the death. Even Garrett can see how ridiculous it is; none of the six previous Tournaments came off as intended, as the contestants' families ''always'' united to subvert the process and hunt down the Operators instead of risking their children's lives on a one-in-twelve shot at victory.
* Government-sanctioned ones on Neshi's homeworld in ''Literature/TheWandering'', usually consisting of a convict and a very heavily-armed robot. It is during Neshi attending one of the matches that he meets up with someone who passes along some important information leading to the mysterious Jerusalemites.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]

[[AC:In fiction]]

* ''Series/DoctorWho'' has done most versions of this, from actual kid's games to the ImmoralRealityShow:
** The story [[Recap/DoctorWhoS3E7TheCelestialToymaker "The Celestial Toymaker"]] saw the cast forced into children's games, failure in which would mean their eternal enslavement.
** In the serial [[Recap/DoctorWhoS22E2VengeanceOnVaros "Vengeance on Varos"]], the Doctor and Peri land on a planet where executions are televised as part of a BreadAndCircuses system.
** The episode [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E12BadWolf "Bad Wolf"]] did this with parodies of popular British {{Reality Show}}s set in 200,100 AD, including a version of ''Series/BigBrother'' where a contestant who is voted out of the house actually gets disintegrated, and a version of ''Series/TheWeakestLink'' with the same punishment for elimination [[spoiler: -- or so it seems; it turns out to be a FateWorseThanDeath (being killed and having your genetic material used for Daleks).]] Although these have been interpreted as {{Deconstruction}} by fans, creator Creator/RussellTDavies is known to be a fan of reality TV, and the episodes are more of an AffectionateParody.
** In "The Wedding of River Song" the Doctor is briefly shown playing "Live Chess" (the pieces are electrified and are charged when moved) with an agent of the Silence and has manipulated his opponent into a situation where his only possible move is with a Queen that has accumulated a lethal charge. But the Doctor is willing to concede if he gets the information he wants.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'':
** Subverted in the episode "Move Along Home". The crew seems to be trapped in a Deadly Game played by Quark and an alien. In the end, the entire crew is killed and removed from play to Quark's horror. Then they rematerialize back on the station, and the aliens who created the game are mystified by the fact that anyone would even consider that the people trapped in the game might be in real danger: it's only a game, after all.
** Played straight, however, in "Our Man Bashir", in which the main crew's transporter patterns are sent into the James-Bond-esque holosuite program Bashir and Garak are enjoying, and Bashir must keep all the characters alive to prevent the program from erasing them from the game.
* In an episode of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', Seven and Tuvok are captured and forced to do gladiatorial combat, which is broadcast across space to numerous locations. Particularly jarring in that until they see Seven fighting, the crew of Voyager is enjoying these matches. Said episode features a cameo from Wrestling/TheRock. To be fair, though, only some of the matches were to the death. The Rock's cameo was a non-lethal bout which Seven lost, called a blue match. The red match she is put in later is lethal.
* The season two ''Series/{{Hyperdrive}}'' episode involving 'Death Game'.
* The episode "Judgment Day" in the ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'' series did a version of this with a reality TV show in which convicted criminals are hunted down on camera as their punishment.
* ''Film/TheYearOfTheSexOlympics'' features the titular games being pre-empted for "The Live Life Show", in which a family is taken to a Scottish island and murdered brutally - in this world, even non-stop pornography is less popular than [[SnuffFilm snuff]], apparently.
* The ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' sketch "UpperclassTwit of the Year" features a contest where various upper-class twits (it's a straightforward title) race to finish an obstacle course with challenges like unhooking a bra from a mannequin or running in a straight line. The last challenge? Shooting themselves in the head.
* An interesting twist was seen in an episode of ''Series/ThePrisoner'' with members of the Village taking part in a giant chess game with themselves as the pieces. It's not meant to be fatal, but one 'piece' who decides to move on his own initiative is subject to forced brainwashing.
* ''Series/TheTwilightZone2002'' featured an episode promptly titled "How Much Do You Love Your Son?" in which a reality show kidnaps a woman's son and said mother has to track down the kidnapper before it's too late. The twist is that [[spoiler:the woman's ex-husband was the kidnapper and was in on the whole thing. The trauma she suffered from the game prompts her to shoot him, causing her to win but now have to use the prize money for an attorney]].
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'':
** The Digital Short [[http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/james-franco/video/1128451 "The Tizzle Wizzle Show"]] combines this with SubvertedKidsShow. It involves giving the [[ExcitedKidsShowHost kid show hosts]] knives, drugging them, turning off the lights and then fighting to the death until one is left standing. Apparently, the hosts enjoy and willingly play the game.
** Another ''SNL'' skit featuring Chris Farley parodied Japanese game shows. It seemed to be just a Japanese counterpart to Jeopardy, with three contestants being asked questions by a host. However, it turns out that if you get the question wrong, you have to kill yourself. Farley's character, a FishOutOfWater American who doesn't understand whats going on, blunders his way to the final round, where getting the questions wrong gets him electrocuted.
* The ''Series/{{Sliders}}'' episode "Rules of the Game" finds our heroes competing in a dangerous adventure-quest-type game show where the losers die.
* The {{Tokusatsu}} show ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' was all about this: An unwilling Hero, an AntiHero, an ActionGirl and a bunch of [[{{Jerkass}} Jerkasses]] are drawn into an [[AlternateUniverse alternate dimension]] populated with maneating monsters. Then everyone gets a PowerArmor, a MechanicalMonster as a BondCreatures and... [[CollectibleCardGame a deck of cards]]. And these guys are all more or less ''adults''. With this equipment, they get to fight each other to the death, with the last survivor being granted [[MakeAWish a wish]] by the mysterious host of this Deadly Game called "Rider War". It turns out that [[spoiler: the host has no intention on keeping his word. He has all those people fighting for their lives and killing each other so that he can use his overpowered Kamen Rider Odin, actually a puppet who is an extension of his will (sucks to be the poor sap who put on the suit) in order to win the wish, using it to save his sister.]] Considering that Kamen Rider is normally a franchise of {{Superhero}} shows, Ryuki was received as a case of {{Deconstruction}}; an attempt to make an [[WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids already pretty Dark and Edgy]] series even DarkerAndEdgier.
** Ironically, the American adaptation ''Series/KamenRiderDragonKnight'' is more true to the genre than it is to its source material, reverting back to the "{{Henshin Hero}}es fighting monsters to save the world" theme. It also keeps one of the best aspects of Ryuki - each Rider having his own story and each desiring to gain something different by participating. What each one thinks the battle between Riders really is differs from Rider to Rider. (At least one thinks he's FightClubbing.) In truth, [[spoiler: the bad guy has almost all of the Rider decks. Each only works for its designated user, so he has to get the Earthen doubles of the Riders of his dimension to fight for him, usually by either trickery, or messing with their lives behind the scenes and then sweeping in to offer them the only way out.]]
** ''Series/KamenRiderExAid'' has a video game theme and a medical theme in one. The villains are basically ''both'' kinds of virus at once, programs based on in-universe video game villains arising from humans suffering from the 'game disease.' It turns out the mysterious "Kamen Rider Chronicle" game the main villains want to create is very much this: it allows you to become a Rider-like warrior called a Ride Player and battle the {{Mooks}} and monsters in the real world. There are two catches they ''don't'' tell you: one, "Game Over" means you die. Two, from the moment you first transform you are infected with the game disease, and so must win or die anyway!
* ''Series/BlakesSeven''
** The episode "Games" has the MacGuffin protected by lethal {{Booby Trap}}s which include a flight simulator and QuickDraw game that killed the players if they didn't win. Fortunately AcePilot Tarrant and TheGunslinger Soolin [[PlotTailoredToTheParty just happen to be]] on the BoardingParty sent to get it.
** The episode "Gambit" includes a game of speed chess where the challenger is strapped to an electric chair. He either wins an obscene amount of money, or he loses and the resident chessmaster pushes a button and fries him. After Vila and Avon scam the casino with the help of [[MasterComputer Orac]], Vila is tricked into playing the game.
** The episode "Death-Watch" features a one-on-one duel to the death conducted between representatives of two planets who use the duels as a substitute for all-out interplanetary war. The events are broadcast widely, and of course nobody could possibly want to interfere with them for their own political gain...
* "The Tale of the Forever Game" in ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark''.
* The ''Series/MurdochMysteries'' episode "The Artful Detective" has an early 20th century version, minus the wide audience. A group of people who are desperate for money (and one EgomaniacHunter) agree to attempt to kill each other for the entertainment of a bookmaker and his clients. The results are published in a local racing paper, disguised as a non-existent race. When Murdoch starts getting too close, a new "horse" is added to the listings: the Artful Detective.

[[AC:{{Game show}}s and {{reality show}}s]]

While this trope is most common in fiction, there have been some {{game show}}s and {{reality show}}s that invoked its stylistic trappings without putting contestants in any serious danger -- as well as a rare few that actually did so.
* The entire premise of ''Series/{{Inquizition}}''.
* Theoretically, the real life game show ''Series/{{Downfall}}'' could have been played off like one (they managed to get Chris Jericho to host too!), had they not tried to avert it as much as possible and point out they were not trying to be evil.
* However, what ABC put into the "post-''Series/{{Wipeout|2008}}'' slot" one year later, ''Series/OneHundredAndOneWaysToLeaveAGameShow'', is a lot more justifiable as a deadly game, or at least something that's so overly ridiculous that it can easily be played off as one.
* Invoked by the French made-for-TV documentary ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Jeu_de_la_Mort Le Jeu de la Mort]]'', which performed Stanley Milgram's famous peer influence experiment with the added element of RealityTV. The test subjects were supposedly being paid to participate as contestants on a GameShow pilot, ''La Zone Xtrême''. As with the original experiment, they were to administer increasingly powerful shocks to someone else (who was a trained actor, much like the original) as punishment for answering questions wrong; ranging from from "mild buzz" to "lethal". But this time, the subject was prodded on by both the host ''and'' a StudioAudience to deliver the shocks. Out of the 80 people who auditioned, 64 of them, or 80%, went all the way to the highest level of shock, as they were instructed.
* The Japanese game show ''Series/{{DERO}}!'' was played off as one, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek -- contestants who lost a round were talked about as if they had just died, but the "deaths" were blatantly fake (and this was quite clearly intentional), and everyone would appear back on camera after the round without so much as a scratch (except for the Water Room leaving players soaking wet). Each game had its own way in which contestants could "die" and lose the round, such as having the MalevolentArchitecture dump them into a BottomlessPit made of ConspicuousCG, or cutting the wrong wire in a WireDilemma and being "blown up" with a blast of CO[[subscript:2]] smoke effects.
* Several Sci Fi Channel and Creator/{{Syfy}} game shows, including ''Exit'' (an American version of ''DERO!'' that plays itself off even more seriously than the original), ''Estate of Panic'', and ''Total Blackout'', have emulated this trope, subjecting losing teams to simulated death traps or dropping them into unlighted pits "never to return".
* The 2002 Creator/{{Fox}} game show ''Series/TheChamber'' was probably the closest thing to a legitimately and potentially deadly game in real life. Contestants had to answer questions while locked inside a torture chamber, where they endured extreme heat and cold that got worse with each level. Unaired episodes included electricity, fire, and insects. The kicker? The cold Chamber's winds at Level 4 and up could cause extreme frostbite -- and there were ''seven'' levels. Fortunately, the show was canceled after only three episodes (a total of six were filmed), before any contestants could get ''seriously'' injured, though Website/GameShowGarbage [[http://www.gameshowgarbage.com/ind039_thechamber.html reports]] that at least one contestant sued the show's producers after he was hospitalized from it.
** Around the same time, Creator/{{ABC}} aired a {{dueling show|s}} called ''Series/TheChair'' which had a similar premise, though not nearly as evil.
* Another Fox show, the 2001 reality game show ''Series/MurderInSmallTownX'', did this in {{kayfabe}}. It featured its contestants as investigators trying to solve a series of murders in [[LovecraftCountry small-town Maine]]. The method of getting VotedOffTheIsland? Getting "murdered" by the killer. Ironically, the winner of the show, FDNY firefighter Ángel Juarbe, Jr., died on 9/11 -- [[HarsherInHindsight just one week after the final episode aired]].
* ''Series/{{Hellevator}}'' on Creator/{{GSN}}, a show in which a team of three contestants must complete three challenges themed around horror movies, all while being stalked and chased by masked maniacs who "kill" them if they fail the challenge.
* [[MemeticMutation Meanwhile, in Russia]], a tech millionaire named Yevgeny Pyatkovsky [[http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/reality-tv/sick-rules-for-new-russian-reality-tv-show-allow-contestants-to-fight-rape-and-murder-each-other/news-story/eb6a370c750cefc4e4e6de6e0fd3449f made headlines in 2016]] by announcing a show called ''[=Game2=]: Winter''. Essentially a hardcore version of ''Series/{{Survivor}}'', the show would've seen thirty contestants dumped into a 50,000-acre tract of Siberian taiga and left to survive for nine months, each of them provided with only a knife, a video camera with rechargeable batteries, and wilderness survival training from ex-Spetsnaz operatives. There would be no film crew or medical staff, only two thousand cameras rigged up to film everything remotely, though each contestant would have a "panic button" they can use for rescue via helicopter (at the cost of forfeiting the game).\\\
The premise alone was enough to put it on this list, with all contestants signing waivers absolving the producers of any responsibility for injuries, trauma, or deaths. However, what really pushed it over the top was Pyatkovsky's explicit promise that everything would be permitted, including fighting, rape (the contestants would be evenly split along gender lines), and murder. He did backtrack when pressed on the matter of such things being against the law, [[http://www.snopes.com/russian-reality-show-game2-winter-allows-rape-murder/ reminding people]] that the laws of Russia would still apply, and that the authorities would prosecute any crimes committed by the contestants. In the end, it turned out that the show didn't exist and was actually [[http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/anger-as-controversial-siberian-hunger-games-creator-claims-his-idea-was-a-fake/ a publicity stunt]] that Pyatkovsky had carried out for market research, leaving many people who'd signed up to participate feeling that they'd been duped and that Pyatkovsky had done little more than [[StopBeingStereotypical fuel negative Russian stereotypes]] (ironically, he mentioned anti-Russian sentiment as one of the reasons he'd pitched the show, as he figured that [[TheTysonZone everybody would believe it]]).
* ''Series/{{Whodunnit}}'' has this in its premise, as it's a TenLittleMurderVictims scenario with TheMole ",urdering" last week's eliminated contestant in a way that the contestants have to solve, with the worst being the next VictimOfTheWeek.

* Music/{{GWAR}}: With a battle cry go forth which is "Give the people what they want." And what the people want could only be the senseless slaughter of the gutter-slime that litters this nation for cash and prizes. Yes, this is the show where people bet their lives to win something big. 'cause when your life is shit, then you haven't got much to lose on [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7AnOp3nkp4 Slaughterama!]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* In the ''ComicStrip/ModestyBlaise'' arc "Those About to Die", elite athletes and combatants (including Modesty and Willie) are kidnapped by an insane millionaire and forced to compete in gladiatorial games for his amusement.

* ''Roleplay/HungerGamesSimulation'' is a PlayByPostGame on the Administrivia/TVTropesForum Games subsection. It's ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: a simulator of ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', where the participants nominate their own tributes and submit various events. As the seasons progressed, more and more silly custom events were implemented, and some of the tributes started to become... [[DenserAndWackier unorthodox by Simulation standards]].

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The titular game ''TabletopGame/{{The Splinter}}'' is one of these.
* ''Suerte y Muerte'' is a Deadly Game television series broadcast out of Aztlan in the TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}} Verse. Other BloodSport programs certainly exist, but ''S y M'' is noted for making killing out the other contestants ''mandatory'' to win.
* ''XCRAWL'' is an extensive supplement for 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons, in which the base game meets Smash TV. The party crawls through dungeons, slaying monsters, collecting loot, and saving non-combatants (like "Princesses" hired to act out the roles) for the ratings. And yes, it's televised. And your DM is perfectly justified giving out a year's supply of car wax as a prize (along with actual stuff you can use-the book advises this). The Deadly part comes in where if you die, not only do you die, but you lose points.
* ''Classroom Deathmatch'' is basically the SerialNumbersFiledOff version of Manga/BattleRoyale: The Roleplaying Game.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The entirety of ''VideoGame/RatchetDeadlocked'' is a deadly gladiatorial game.
* ''VideoGame/SmashTV'' has the players blasting their way through a maze filled with hordes of {{Mooks}} and [[HumongousMecha gigantic cyborg bosses]], all in the name of earning mountains of cash and fabulous prizes. Yay, a new VCR!
* One level of ''VideoGame/SanityAikensArtifact'' has the main character forced to compete on a gameshow called "Trivia Insanity", where "One Wrong Answer, and You're Dead!". Two of the four contestants (the main character himself being one) are obviously there against their will, but the third one is actually determined to win the game, and is there of his own will. The fourth is the magician you get to meet at the end of the boss fight, and he's given easy questions.
* The last level in ''VideoGame/BanjoKazooie'' for the Nintendo 64, Grunty's Furnace Fun, has a lethal board game motif. The sequel, ''Banjo-Tooie'', had a quiz show motif with Gruntilda and her sisters playing against the heroes; the losers got [[AnvilOnHead a weight dropped on them]].
* ''VideoGame/DeadRising2'' features Terror Is Reality, a pay-per-view game show which is essentially ''Series/AmericanGladiators'' or ''Series/TakeshisCastle'' is all the events revolved around killing zombies. It's also the name of a multiplayer mode based on said game show where players can transfer their winnings to their save files.
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' has the Reapers' Game, where [[spoiler:recently deceased]] teenagers have to complete seven tasks over seven days in order to win a shot at [[spoiler:[[BackFromTheDead resurrection]]]]. Failure means that [[DeaderThanDead their existence is erased]]. Meanwhile, the Reapers try to hunt the players down in order to gain points for themselves and extend their lifespan.
* This is the ExcusePlot in ''VideoGame/TheShipMurderParty'', an online multiplayer FPS. Basically, you're on a ship and a crazy guy in a mask pays you to kill your shipmates while being hunted down yourself.
** Creator/ShackTactical took this idea and adapted it to a mod of the ''VideoGame/ArmA'' engine. In their version, a large number of civilians have all been given a slow acting poison. If they kill their assigned quarry, they get enough of the cure to prolong their life, and a new quarry to kill. Meanwhile, odds are they're probably the quarry to one or more other poisoned people, and have to dodge the attempts of that person or people to kill them. Finally, there's the WildCard of the local police, most of whom tend to be [[PoliceAreUseless incompetent and overwhelmed]] by the inexplicable sudden crime wave, but a few may be TriggerHappy, (if role-played that way) and occasionally some seem to be getting their jollies by [[KillerCop using this as an excuse to kill a few people themselves]]...
* Also present in SpiritualSuccessor ''VideoGame/BloodyGoodTime'', with [[AxCrazy the Director]] having actors "compete" for the lead role.
* In ''Blast Chamber'' for the [=PlayStation=], the 'players' have [[ExplosiveLeash bombs strapped to their chests]]. The objective is to run down the clock on the others' bombs before they do the same to you.
* In ''VideoGame/JetsNGuns'', there is a level in which the player has to fight through a level full of enemies to entertain the viewers of Carnage TV. There is a scene in which the announcer says that 100 viewers had won the special opportunity to be slain by the hero; when the player ship meets them, they even cheer and wave signs reading "Kill me".
* The premise of ''VideoGame/MadWorld'', centering around an [[RatedMForMoney ultra]]-[[{{Gorn}} violent]] deathmatch game show.
* ''VideoGame/UnrealTournament'' series revolves around [[MegaCorp Liandri Corporation]] gathering world's finest [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot mercenaries, freaks, robots and aliens]] to duke it out on old battlefields, orbital bases, factories and other [[MalevolentArchitecture interesting]] locations. ''VideoGame/UnrealTournamentIII'', set in the same continuity and [[{{Narm}} being more serious in tone]], applies gadgets from the tournament like [[DeathIsCheap respawners]] and [[FunWithAcronyms Field Lattice Array Generators]] to conventional warfare.
%%* ''VideoGame/QuakeIIIArena''
* ''VideoGame/TheKillingGameShow'', whose premise is AllThereInTheManual for those who know it as ''Fatal Rewind''.
%%* ''VideoGame/TheDevilInside''
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' has Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, where you run through various deathtraps shooting guys in mascot costumes and various targets for bonuses. Don't shoot the Pandas however. It's not ethical.
* Present as a gag (in the form of a radio commercial) in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIII'':
--> "Tonight...the TV event that will make history...Liberty City Survivor! This takes reality TV to a whole new level! We'll take 20 recently paroled guys, equip them with grenade launchers and flamethrowers...and let them hunt each other down!! It's the reality show where you...just might be...part of the action!!"
* The heroes of VideoGame/WildArms5 are offered a chance to be on TV, unfortunately it turns out to be on this sort of show. Surprisingly, the executive in charge has stated his distaste for the whole thing, but you can't argue with those kind of ratings.
* ''VideoGame/TwistedMetal'' is about the eponymous competition, which thrusts drivers of heavily armed vehicles into urban combat with the prize of having a single wish granted, no matter how impossible. [[spoiler:In reality the competition is merely a system of collecting souls for {{Hell}}, be they drivers that don't survive or just the innocent bystanders who get caught in the crossfire. The host himself is a LiteralGenie who frequently doesn't honor the spirit of the wish, instead granting an ironic outcome.]]
* The original ''VideoGame/{{Manhunt}}'' is a snuff-reality show combination that thrusts a prison convict into a city full of murderous thugs whom he must execute to escape alive. [[spoiler:The ending brings it full circle, with the protagonist inflicting a gruesome fate upon the director who put him through hell on Earth.]]
* In ''VideoGame/MetalGearAcid'', Teliko was kidnapped by TheDragon [[MasterOfDisguise La Clown]] and locked up in a giant board game room at the top of a tower. When Snake stumbles across her, he is trapped there as well, and they battle to the death for the right to leave, using special abilities given to them by certain squares on the board game.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Flashback}}'' there's Death Tower, prize for which is a trip to Earth. Forms one of the levels the hero Conrad must pass through on his mission.
* ''Penarium'' has a variation on this: the player is forced to perform for a sadistic Ringmaster who thinks nothing of complicating the tasks he assigns with a wide variety of deadly traps.
* ''VideoGame/TalesFromTheBorderlands'' has one in "[=Zer0=] Sum", where [[spoiler:Vaughn and Fiona get caught up in a Death Race run by Bossanova.]]
* Geer'AH from ''VideoGame/{{Vangers}}'' hosts a ritual sports festival, which is not shown, but described in lush, juicy details. Participators are usually Valorins (aka Heroines), energetic and violent [[StarfishAliens beeboorats]] originating from Ogorod [[ElaborateUndergroundBase escave]]. Nearly all those games feature said guys killing themselves in twisted ways. The most interesting part here is that [[spoiler: you can [[NonStandardGameOver end up as a participant of those games]]. Just try and bring Geer'AH something he does not like, more than one time, and you'll be sure to regret]].
* Your first encounter with Mettaton in ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'' has him forcing you to answer [[UnexpectedlyObscureAnswer increasingly difficult]] game show questions, on pain of having half your health taken away for a wrong answer. [[spoiler: Fortunately it's all part of Alphys and Mettaton's act; if you do badly enough Mettaton will skip to the last two questions, which are impossible to get wrong.]]
* ''Idol Death Game [=TV=]'' has the InUniverse 10th Anniversary MilestoneCelebration [[ShowWithinAShow Game Show within a Video Game]] for ''Dream of Dream'', ''Dream or Death'', where idols participate against one another in an idol competition (in a game promising MultipleEndings depending on the idol you're playing as, and which idol dies), hosted by a pink psycho tapir named Doripaku. The last place contestant in each round has to participate in a 'Death Concert', a ''Franchise/DanganRonpa''-esque execution where the idol will 'shine for the last time in her life' (read: perform their song while the ''[=DanganRonpa=]''-esque execution occurs). Some deaths include having a muscular Doripaku throw a baseball through your chest, getting boiled and somehow surviving... [[spoiler: then getting electrocuted]], and getting mauled by a bear.
** And for a Game within a Show within a Game example, we have Dream RussianRoulette, where Death Concert victim Rito Karasuma plays an UnwinnableByDesign variant of... well, RussianRoulette, with 5 Doripaku-esque tapirs where all the sandwiches are poisoned. It ends with the tapirs and Rito dead, the latter [[HopeSpot eating the poisoned sandwich.]]
** [[spoiler: Averted in the [[GoldenEnding D.o.D Chapter]], where [[BackForTheFinale everybody,]] except Chiharu, the only playable character for this mode (and yes, that includes anybody who was mauled, blown up, incinerated etc during the course of the game), [[BackFromTheDead comes back to life]] to call out Doripaku, who [[VillainousBreakdown goes mad]] and [[DisneyVillainDeath accidentally runs off the roof off the building and dies,]] leaving the contestants to form their own pop group, [[DoubleMeaning 'Perfect Live']].]]
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates'' has a DLC series that can be seen as a version of this. [[spoiler: The ''Heirs of Fates'' stages are based in {{alternate universe}}s where the GreaterScopeVillain Anankos has destroyed ''several'' worlds following one or another possible story path (some are based after ''Conquest'', others after ''Birthright''), plus at least one ''Revelation'' world. Each world has a Second Generation child as its SoleSurvivor, and Anankos dumps them all in the ''Revelation'' world to pit them against each other. All for his amusement.]] Fortunately [[spoiler: the ''Revelation'' world's Shigure manages to keep his wit despite all the crap he's been through and, with a bit of help from [[SpiritAdvisor Azura's soul]], does his best to set himself up as the BigGood and reunite the remaining kids so they can turn the DeadlyGame on its head and fight back...]]
* ''VideoGame/WolfensteinIITheNewColossus'' has "German or Else!", a game show where contestants must demonstrate their knowledge of the German language[[note]][[PropagandaMachine Which the Nazis have absolutely pummeled into the American people]][[/note]] or else they'll be sent to a re-education camp. You can tell the contestants are unnerved and ''sweating in fear.'' The show also counts as a warning that are only 173 days of English; after that, anyone caught speaking English will be immediately executed.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* The [[VisualNovel/{{Danganronpa}} main]] [[VisualNovel/SuperDanganronpa2 games]] of ''Franchise/DanganRonpa'' are these. The characters are accepted into a prestigious school, but upon arrival find out that it's been converted into [[GildedCage a prison of sorts]] and they're locked inside. The... "[[KillerTeddyBear headmaster]]"... informs them that they may leave only if they can murder a fellow classmate and not get caught.
** For added deadliness, breaking any of the rules results in the same punishment as being caught murdering - [[AllCrimesAreEqual immediate]] [[CruelAndUnusualDeath execution]].
%%* ''VisualNovel/KillerQueen''.
* This is a staple of the ''VisualNovel/ZeroEscape'' series. In each game there's a Deadly Game with different rules, mechanics, participants and masterminds. Specifically:
** ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'', the very first installment, has the Nonary Game. Nine people have to risk their lives to explore a ship so they can find the exit, a door with a number 9 on it. Possible ways to die involve drowning when the time limit for the game is up, being killed by other participants, and the detonators in the bracelets triggering an explosion inside a hapless rulebreaker... in the bombs implanted ''in the bowels'' of all the players. [[spoiler:Flipped on its head come TheReveal -- only two of the nine players actually have bombs, and the game is designed for all players to make it out alive while saving Akane from an actual Deadly Game in the process.]]
** The Nonary Game makes a reappearance in ''VisualNovel/VirtuesLastReward'', and is deadlier than before. The participants find the number 9 door right off the bat, but in order to open it they need to rack up 9 bracelet points, which are obtained through a variation of the PrisonersDilemma... And this little game is what can kill off the partcipants if their points get down to zero. Considering how the characters don't really trust each other, seems like it's impossible for all 9 people to escape... [[spoiler:but once again, the game is designed for everyone to make it out alive. Even if one person escapes through the number 9 door and strands everyone else, they can still take the elevator to warehouse floor B and open that door.]]
** At its deadliest in ''VisualNovel/ZeroTimeDilemma'''s Decision Game, where at least six people ''must'' die for anyone to escape. And there's no trick this time around to circumvent these deaths -- the game shows how the exit really only opens with six deaths. However... [[spoiler:the characters make it out alive of Dcom by not getting trapped behind the X-Door in the first place. Yes, the only way for everyone to live is for Zero to release them at the very beginning of the videogame]].

* In ''usr/bin/w00t'', Sarah leads one of those in a DreamSequence, featuring people who are "asshats" to computer techs.
* ''Webcomic/LastRes0rt'' centers around a RealityShow of the same name.
** WordOfGod says that players' deaths, while advertised as a selling point, are merely "encouraged" by the rules of the show (which specify that anyone who survives the season will be pardoned of all their crimes, including those committed during the show).
* [[http://www.tnemrot.com/ Domain Tnemrot]] is set around one of these. The battles are to the death.
* In ''Webcomic/DeadWinter'', a large group of rich people is apparently behind a game of world-renowned assassins hunting each other for sport, with the assassins and their sponsors getting the bounty when they kill on of the other participants. Apparently not all of the assassins are in the game because they want to be.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Jix}}'', Lauren is abducted by the Amblians (a race similar to Jix's race, the Ambis) for a galactic show called "The Gauntlet" where the contestants are unwilling aliens captured from various planets and hunted down by the hosts. The show was cancelled when Jix came in to rescue her friend.
* This is how ''Webcomic/MorphE'' starts. The losers die. The winners turn into something a little different...
* This is the main plot vehicle in ''Webcomic/{{Hellp}}''. Every five years Hell's government hosts a big game where multiple teams compete for a chance to return back to life. The story is set during one of the special games where the main prize is a ticket to Heaven instead. This being Hell, the games are as brutal as it gets.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Nodwick}}'', there are the Hench-Games, an annual event run by the Adventurers Guild, which are actually perfectly safe for the ''contestants''. However, the games are played using henchmen ''as equipment'', and it's not so safe for ''them''. (Suffice to say that, while this attracts a lot of spectators, those with heart conditions are not advised to watch the javelin toss.) It includes such events as hench-vaulting, synchronized looting, high seas pillaging, dodge curse, trapped-chest handling, and the 200-meter dash-with-cash-a-thon. (The villains try to win by using a henchman shaped golem, which unfortunately, is ''not'' considered cheating by the Guild, who ''encourage'' dirty tricks in this reality.)

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* The Survival of the Fittest program in ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'', which is very similar to that of ''Literature/BattleRoyale'' but with slightly different rules. For example, no time limit as long as there's a death every 24 hours, the names of killers are given on the announcements, and there's a different collar design.
* Quite a few {{Original Character Tournament}}s are based around this sort of game show. The tournaments themselves are actually quite similar to this trope in some respects.
* Wiki/{{SCP|Foundation}}-[[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-024 024]] is a mysterious game show whose losers are never seen again. There's also [[http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-263 SCP-263]], a TV set that forces whoever turns it on to play "Cash or Ash", which requires them to answer obscure questions about other [=SCPs=] or else spontaneously combust. It will also burn anyone it catches coaching the contestant or otherwise cheating.
* The podcast ''Podcast/TheThrillingAdventureHour'' has the Punishment Soccer, a deadly take on soccer and a parody of ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' in which Pemily Stalwark fought and won.
* JournalRoleplay has "murdergames," short-term games in which an assortment of characters from [[MegaCrossover various worlds]] are trapped in some setting and informed that the only way out is to get away with murder. The genre began with ''Roleplay/DanganRoleplay'', which [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin was based]] on the ''Franchise/DanganRonpa'' franchise.
* ''Podcast/TheAdventureZone'''s Suffering Game arc is entirely one of these. It doesn't end well for ''anyone'' involved.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The entire premise of ''WesternAnimation/CelebrityDeathmatch''.
* The ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "Wild Cards," in which ComicBook/TheJoker hides time bombs all throughout the Las Vegas Strip and uses hidden cameras to film the League racing to find them while simultaneously fighting the Royal Flush Gang.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpidermanAndHisAmazingFriends'': "Seven Little Superheroes" sees the Chameleon try to eliminate each of the various Marvel superheroes in brutal fashion, one-by-one. He uses drones disguised as each of the good guys in a "kill or be killed" game both for his own amusement and to wipe out those who would prevent him from achieving his goals. However, he finds that he can't kill off another little superhero that came along: Miss Lion! Apparently, changing his shape doesn't change his scent and this allowed the heroes to get the drop on him.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short "The Ducksters", Porky is on a rather sadistic radio quiz show called ''Truth or AAAAHHH!!'' (a parody of ''Series/TruthOrConsequences'') hosted by Daffy Duck, where Porky has to answer some rather impossible questions, like "Who, mind you WHO, was the referee for the New Zealand heavyweight championship fight in 1726?" (oddly, Porky actually knew it was "Arbuckle Dreen,"). Failing to answer the other questions required Porky to "pay the penalty" (for instance, when Daffy asks who was the father of his country, Porky states that the answer is simple, but his stuttering prevents him from answering "George Washington" in time). These penalties include Porky being crushed by the Rock of Gibraltar, [[DrowningPit rained upon by Niagara Falls]], [[BoundAndGagged tied up]] and [[NonFatalExplosions blown up]] with [[CartoonBomb dynamite]], [[DropTheHammer pounded with a mallet]], [[ConveyorBeltODoom threatened by a buzz saw]], [[AnvilOnHead crushed by a safe]], and other forms of abuse. (And Daffy eggs him on with snide lines like [[DeadpanSnarker "listen, Mac; You got 32 teeth, would you like to try for 16?"]], Finally, after Porky gets ''really'' mad and threatens Daffy with physical violence after surviving the bonus round(Tricked into walking into a room containing a 600-pound gorilla), Daffy awards him the grand prize of 26 million dollars and three cents. Porky quickly calls the broadcasting company and buys the show with the winnings - meaning he's now Daffy's boss - [[HoistByHisOwnPetard and proceeds to put Daffy through the exact same torment.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'', Pluck and Dizzy compete on a game show called ''That's Incredibly Stupid'', where the idea is to complete tasks you'd have to ''be'' incredibly stupid to attempt. Round one is to compete in a demolition derby (''without'' a car), and round two involves finding a needle in a haystack (which is ''set on fire'' and has fireworks planted inside). Plucky survives those by putting the brunt of it on Dizzy, but when told the last round is simply to judge a beauty contest, he insists on doing it himself. The host neglects to tell him that the contestants are all of the AmazonianBeauty type, and all are horrible {{Sore Losers}}. (Plucky doesn't complete this one; he was a little ''too'' stupid.)
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheRealGhostbusters'' episode "The Devil to Pay", the heroes were conned by a demon named Dib Devlin into competing in a game show with their souls on the line. Unfortunately for Dib (who was clearly a devil behind on his quota) he underestimated their intelligence, and had [[EvilCannotComprehendGood no faith in human nature]], seeing as the last part of the three-part game could be won by one of them admitting to doing something bad. (Which Ray eventually did.) Even worse, he was a SoreLoser who tried to kill them after he lost, but proved a complete wimp once Peter actually got his hands on him.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Slugterra}}'': The Shane gang is subjected to this by the Game Master in "The Thrill of the Game". The Game Master's modus operandi is to lure unsuspecting slingers into a far off cavern called Lands End Cavern. There, he forces them to play "game", made up of dangerous obstacles and puzzles.

* The [[GladiatorGames gladiatorial matches]] of AncientRome, of course. Outright death was uncommon, though, with only about one in five fights ending this way (a well-trained gladiator is an expensive investment, so it cost a lot to "give the people what they want"), and some gladiators even made their careers on victories that did not draw any blood. Still, most gladiators did die in the ring eventually, usually after no more than ten matches, and the average life expectancy for a gladiator was 27.
* The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_ballgame Mesoamerican ballgame]], in a sense. While not fundamentally deadly in itself, there's evidence that the game had a lot to do with the selection of human sacrifices in some civilizations. Historians are still debating on who gets killed, the winning team or the losing team.