Eat That

"Let's say you're flipping through your 8,479 cable channels, and you come across a program called Eat Bugs for Money, wherein they bring out a large live insect, and the contestants secretly write down the minimum amount of money they would have to be given to eat it, and whichever one has the lowest bid has to actually do it. Admit it: YOU would watch this program. In fact, right now you're saying to yourself: 'Hey, I wonder what channel that's on.'"
Dave Barry, "Beetlejuice"

In many Reality Shows, the contestants will at one point have to eat something absolutely disgusting. This will usually be bugs (sometimes living bugs) or even worse. This is commonly cited by the Moral Guardians as evidence that Reality TV is pure trash ("We're eating worms for money!" a character complained in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). Occasionally survival-type shows will attempt to vaguely justify it as the equivalent of searching for food and getting whatever is necessary, but in those cases contestants might be doing that anyway and never need to resort to eating or even find anything as gross as what the show forces them to eat. Another common justification is that the food is actually Foreign Queasine; something that the locals do, in fact, eat (although not usually in anywhere near the same quantities as the contestants have to.)

Contrast Reduced to Ratburgers, in which it's typically the eater's survival rather than bank account that's at stake. Not related to If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten. Presumably, this is where these shows would draw the line. We hope.

Not to be confused with Take That. Although "eat" is the most commonly used verb, it is also not a subset of Verb This!.


Examples:

Game and Reality Programs
  • Survivor
  • Fear Factor, the Trope Codifier. Buffalo testicles and pig rectums were bad enough, but the Championship episode was where it arguably got abusive (maggoty cheese). In the new series, one stunt in particular — the chugging of donkey semen and urine — was so nasty that NBC refused to air it.
  • El gran juego de la oca was doing this in Spain long before Americans got a hold of it; various challenges included contestants having to eat the "eyeballs" and "brains" from characters dressed as zombies, being strapped to a torture chair and being force-fed hot peppers for getting questions wrong, and in the second season being forced to eat what would become typical Fear Factor fare at the "Chinese Restaurant" to avoid losing all their money.
  • Road Rules, in later seasons.
  • Silent Library
  • Laura en América: In one episode of this famous and ridiculous Peruvian Point-and-Laugh Show, someone was forced to eat a rocoto for $20, among other humilliations. The name of the episode was “Haría cualquier cosa por dinero” ("I would do anything for the money").
  • The Amazing Race (always the "local delicacy" version.)
  • I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!: Bush tucker trials have included kangaroo penis, live crickets, cockroach smoothie... and anything else gross the producers can think of.
  • Discovery/History Channel
    • Les Stroud of Survivorman does this, as he has a minimum amount of food with him.
    • Ditto with Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild, though in this case it usually has more to do with ratings than necessity, since he doesn't bother to cook his finds even when he can.
      • Of course, the premise of Man vs. Wild precludes stopping to cook food: Bear focuses on escaping the wilderness. Survivorman, on the other hand, focuses on surviving the wilderness, so Les has time to build a fire and cook any food he's found, as he tends to stay in one location longer than Bear. Les also tends to try and get fish or birds or fruit, in preference to creepy-crawlies.
    • Alaska Experiment contestants survive and travel in Alaska. With little food, they make the most of and prey they hunt, usually having organ stew.
    • Dual Survival a military survivalist and a survival minimalist show how to reach civilization when stranded somewhere. The minimalist finds local plants and bugs, which the military survivalist absolutely detests.
  • Solitary uses this trope in a different way. Instead of eating disgusting food, the contestants eat normal food as a challenge. The catch is, they have to keep shoveling it down until it comes up.
  • Hell's Kitchen has made the losing team on various challenges (usually blind taste tests or identifying cuts of meat) forced to eat such offal as beef tongue, brains, intestines, etc. Expect a Vomit Chain Reaction to happen. Additionally, contestants that have cooked something poorly but refused to own up to it have sometimes been sent out into the dining room to eat their mistakes.
  • The Joe Schmo Show had exactly one real contestant; all the others were actors. The real contestant had been promised before the show there would be no challenges of this type, and nearly walks off the show when they spring one on him. This was entirely intentional— they wanted him to threaten to walk off so that they could set up a plot where he used his skills of having studying law in college to negotiate with a fake network executive.
  • Even Rupauls Drag Race got in on the act. The Season 2 "country-fried" episode had a mini-challenge called "Chicken or What?", where the queens had to eat a mystery fried food blindfolded and say if it was chicken or "what." When it came down to a three-way tie, the winner was the one who could finish a basket of various fried goods - chicken, rabbit, alligator, and cow brains.
  • In one episode of MythBusters, testing whether you literally "got cold feet" when you were scared involved Kari eating live bugs.

Live-Action TV (non-reality)
  • During a discussion of this trope on The Ricky Gervais Show, producer Karl Pilkington commented that eating a kangaroo penis in the morning would be too difficult. His clarification, "I could eat a knob at night," became an internet meme, spawning dance remixes, t-shirts, public graffiti, and a story in the New York Times.
  • Stargate Atlantis, Dr. Keller is offered a local (dead) bug to eat by Teyla. She initially refuses, commenting "This was my least favorite part of Survivor" and "Eating gross food, sorry, but that's where I draw the line". She eventually eats it.
    • ...But only because they were trapped on an alien planet with no escape and no food.
  • On Lost, Jin offers Hurley sea urchin, and is offended when Hurley refuses. Later, Hurley eats (and throws up) sea urchin in order to apologize.
  • Parodied on Chappelle's Show, where crackhead Tyrone Biggums wins the reality-show challenge by scarfing down the ungulate penis after it grossed out all the other contestants. Meanwhile, Tyrone was just happy to have a meal, and even commented that it wasn't the first time he had done this (past skits featuring Tyrone state that he had... serviced men in exchange for crack).
  • On Top Gear's American South special, the presenters were told to spend the night camping, and that dinner would be whatever they could find by the side of the road. Jeremy Clarkson (somehow) found and brought back an entire dead cownote . James May promptly announced he'd decided to become a vegetarian.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia reveals that Dee once made a kid with a crush on her eat a horse turd in exchange for a kiss. He did... and then she refused the kiss him because he'd just eaten shit.
  • Happens to Ryan Styles occassionally on Whose Line Is It Anyway?? During "Helping Hands", Colin forces Ryan to eat some unappetising things. Fairly mild example for this page, but enough to make the audience squirm.
  • In one Kids in the Hall sketch, two guys in a bus start singing the campfire song "Think I'll Go Eat Worms". Everyone else in the bus thinks they're just starting a singalong to pass the time... until they pull out a large plastic bag full of live worms. The guys are rather confused about why everyone then freaked out and threw them off the bus.

Comic Books
  • In a series of Calvin and Hobbes strips, Calvin offers to eat five worms in front of Susie for a quarter. His mother shows up, and drags him away; he complains, then, when they're out of hearing distance, thanks her.
  • Much of the humor of "Chew" is built upon this trope.

Film
  • Invoked in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, where an angry Japanese chef who has had the misfortune of Cyborg, a Big Eater with a literal cast-iron stomach, try to take advantage of the "all you can eat" option, challenges him with the strangest, most nauseating dishes he can come up with, including an old shoe filled with wasabi.
  • In the Laurel and Hardy movie Way Out West, as they go to retrieve a deed from swindlers, Stanley vows if they fail he'll eat Ollie's hat. They fail. Ollie makes him keep his promise - at first Stanley faces his task with whimpering distaste, but seems blankly contented by his third bite.
  • The second task of 13 Sins involves eating a fly that has just been killed.

Literature
  • The children's book How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. Kid bets he can eat fifteen earthworms in fifteen days to win some cash; Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the schlock-horror novel Creepers, an undercover cop has to eat a roasted rat in order to be accepted as one of them by some paranoid homeless drifters.

Stand-up Comedy
  • Rodney Carrington relates to how him and his friends started playing card games where the loser would have to eat pet food, and eventually live insects. He maintains that there's no better form of entertainment than watching your buddies throw up.

Video Games
  • Breath of Fire II has a scenario where the local prince and his imposter are pit in a cooking contest to determine who the real prince is. Because one of the recipes the real prince makes uses an extra-rare and especially sumptuous ingredient, the royal chefs have a hard time maintaining the facade of supporting the imposter (to be fair, they were blackmailed into it). The princess throws a hissy fit amidst the stalemate and orders the party to eat it up. Oh, did I mention that everyone who wasn't in the party at the time is a frog? The pointman (or pointgirl) will be wishing for a paper bag soon enough.

Web Comics

Web Original
  • Steve, Don't Eat It!
  • One episode of Eighties Dan revolved around Dan unearthing a McDonald's MCDLT he had buried in a time capsule 20 years ago, which had rotted away into an ugly green mush note  save for the bun. What makes it hilarious is that no one is making Dan eat it at all(in fact, the other characters were emphatically trying to warn him not to); Dan simply refuses to accept that there's anything wrong with it, to the point that when he takes a bite, he actually tries going for another one before finally giving in to run off and puke it back up.

Western Animation
  • Danny Fenton was once forced to eat Dash's underwear for losing a contest. It had holes, smelled bad, and looked very dirty. It was bad enough that Danny looked sick. Wouldn't we all be sick anyways?
  • Jackie Chan Adventures. The Chan team entered a Survivor-style contest and one of the tests was to eat a bowl full of bugs.
  • Happens on Total Drama Island several times. As TDI is a satire/parody of reality shows, this is to be expected. Its virtually part of the contestants regular diet due to the cook playing up his Lethal Chef traits just to increase drama.
    • An unusual version appears on TDI as well, in the second to last episode, as part of the Wheel of Misfortune. Viewer beware.
  • Parodied on The Fairly Oddparents, when Timmy goes up against a race of aliens called the Yugopotamians. The aliens have polar opposite values and tastes of humans, and to get to speak to the king, Timmy must eat a piece of the foulest substance known to Yugopotamians: chocolate. The entire audience promptly passes out in horror.
    Yugopotamian Queen: I dont get it! He's not bleeding OR burning!!
  • During the TV movie "Win, Lose, or Kaboom!" from The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, this is one of the challenges on the game show they're on.
  • In The Movie for Teen Titans, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, an angry Japanese sushi chef tries to chase Cyborg away from his "all you can eat" buffet by offering him some of the grossest foods he can imagine, including an old shoe stuffed full of wasabi.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons, where the Simpsons runs into the losing team from a Survivor-style reality show who were left on the island after one of their members simply couldn't eat anymore kangaroo testicles. Ironically, now that they've been Reduced to Ratburgers and scrounging for survival for real, he suddenly cant get enough of them.
  • Happens to Courage the Cowardly Dog in one episode when he's drawn into a Who Can Eat The Most Disgusting Thing?" contest with the Monster of the Week. Only problem? Said monster is a giant insect and obviously used to disgusting fare. The things they eat are, in order; Broccoli, old, rancid broccoli, and old rancid broccoli the insect had between his toes for a week. Courage fails the third one, and the insect eats his portion as well.

Real Life
  • The last emperor of China wrote in his autobiography that he once forced one of his eunuchs to eat a piece of dirt.
  • Goldfish-swallowing as a fraternity initiation or dare is practically a trope of its own.