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Immoral Reality Show

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"Martine, 24, blonde, is an employee in a bankrupt multinational. She will be alone on a heavenly island in the middle of nowhere. Facing her, 8 rapists, divided in two teams, coming out straight from jail specially for the show. Will Martine manage to outwit team A and take refuge on team B's side? To survive, she will have a compass, one can of tuna, and one condom. Will she survive? Rape Island, coming soon, on M6."

A trope that became popular during the 2000s but dates back as far as the 1950s: A given story will feature or take place in an extreme reality TV show where candidates (sometimes convicted criminals) are forced to do degrading or violent things, even kill each other, just for the pleasure of fans all over the country and/or the world. If the show is "soft", they will just live constantly under the eye of the camera. The show will often include some Audience Participation, like choosing which candidate to "eliminate", and the host may Eject the Loser into a Death Trap. The viewers will enjoy the participants' sorrow, breakdowns, betrayals, and deaths as if they were watching a movie. Such shows almost always have insane audience ratings, leading to the obvious implication that Humans Are Bastards and love to see others suffer. However, Stylistic Suck may intervene as the obvious immorality of the show can be used to contrast the normal morality of the universe in which the show is broadcast.

It may or may not be a Blood Sport, but expect to see a Corrupt Corporate Executive counting banknotes and grinning with delight while contemplating audience numbers. It can obviously overlap with Sadist Show and Sadistic Game Show, and also Deadly Game. If there's only one mean judge, see Harsh Talent Show Judge.

It has been Truth in Television, but Bile Fascination has its limits. For that matter, see Point-and-Laugh Show. That said, No Real Life Examples, Please!


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  • As a metaphor for tobacco companies not warning what is in their products, the anti-smoking campaign Truth created a series of Public Service Announcements with MTV, based around a fictional game show where contestants aren't warned that challenges contain a deadly "twist" (such as being challenged to cross a lake without being told it contains some kind of carnivorous monster.)

    Anime & Manga 

     Audio Drama 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio play Infamy of the Zaross, the Doctor discovers that an apparent Alien Invasion is actually an alien "scripted reality" show called Take Me to Your Leader. For a moment he thinks this means they haven't actually killed anyone, until the lead Zaross explains that it's a reality show, they don't fake these things. (Although their "opponents" were random humans kitted out with military uniforms and guns that didn't work, because there's no sense in keeping things too real.)

    Comic Books 
  • The Murderworld series of one-shots deal with the madman Arcade reinventing himself as using Murderworld as one of these, gathering 200 random people and promising the survivor a prize of 100 million dollars and a new life.

  • The Firesign Theatre's 1968 comedy album, Waiting for the Electrician (or Someone Like Him), has a segment with a game show called "Beat the Reaper", where participants are injected with deadly diseases and must guess the disease from the symptoms before it kills them.
  • National Lampoon:
    • "Catch It and You Keep It" is this (as well as parodying many Game Show Tropes). The hosts, on the tenth floor, are tossing merchandise to the contestants in the parking lot below. The merchandise varies from a wristwatch (caught) to an oven (not), and even, in the Bonus Round, a complete house.
    • The National Lampoon Radio Hour also had "Land-A-Million", where the contestant was placed aboard a 747 with one million dollars and 30 minutes of fuel. The pilot then bailed out, and the contestant had to get landing instructions by answering quiz questions.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 1966 French movie The 10th Victim (with Ursula Andress as the lead role) is set 20 Minutes into the Future where the government has the Big Hunt, an incredibly popular show with purposes similar to the one in Rollerball, to keep the public from being bored. The game is a type of legalized murder where one contestant has to hunt down and kill the other; if you're the designated killer, you're given the victim's full profile, but the victim contestant is only told he's being hunted. Either way, once a round is started, it only ends when one contestant is dead, usually killed by the other; almost anything goes to achieve this goal, but deception and seduction between hunter and victim is encouraged, and many contestants actually gain sponsors if they're good enough at it. A participant who wins five rounds as hunter and five as victim gains paid retirement and near-unlimited government privileges.
  • In The Condemned (2007), a bunch of prisoners condemned to death are dropped on an island to battle for the pleasure of the viewers. In an odd (yet minor) touch of reality, the show must be streamed live through the Internet in a pay-per-view site because no TV Network in the world would dare air the thing, and even then law enforcement is doing its damnedest to trace the site's origin from the start.
  • Cube 2: Hypercube: Max theorizes that they're all in the Hypercube as part of a reality show where the goal is for one of them to survive. He turns out to be wrong, though — it's really an experiment performed by a sinister Mega-Corp to create a pocket dimension.
  • The host for the eponymous competition in Death Race even introduces it by saying that this show is the most successful television program ever.
  • Death Watch is about a woman with a terminal illness in a world where such diseases are rare. She is surreptitiously filmed and broadcast without her consent.
  • The made-for-TV film Fugitive X: Innocent Target featured a Hunting the Most Dangerous Game contest put on by an underground casino, whose patrons would bet on how long the target would survive.
  • Halloween: Resurrection features an in-universe reality show where the protagonists spend time inside the house of serial killer Michael Myers — which is rigged with all sorts of traps. Though the immoral part comes in when it still broadcasts as Michael Myers shows up to murder everyone...note 
  • Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has Choozy Doozy, where the audience dares contestants to do depraved and disgusting things for money. When Nick goes on as a contestant, Lou dares him to have sex with another man, only to find out that, since the rules of Choozy Doozy are "you chooze it, you dooze it!", Lou is the man Nick has to have sex with. They try to back out, but they're already hooked up to the VR machine and receive electric shocks to force them to have sex. When Jacob expresses his horror at the program, Adam Jr. tells him that, in the Free-Love Future they're in, it's the biggest hit on TV and there are many more shows like it. Adam Jr.'s nonchalant enjoyment of the show suddenly goes away when Lou takes a lifeline to get out of having to take part in the dare, and chooses him to take his place.
  • Live centers around a TV producer whose American Idol-inspired show is based on six contestants playing a game of Russian Roulette, with the five survivors netting five million each. In the real world, that's incredibly illegal, but the movie circumvents that small detail by explaining the participants aren't 100% sure they'll die, so they aren't technically broadcasting a suicide. Sure...
  • The German movie Das Millionenspiel features a show where a contestant has to survive a manhunt for seven days to win the million deutsch mark prize. Similar to The Running Man, but as early as 1970!
  • My Little Eye involves five strangers in a reality show where they're stuck in a house for six months with a cash prize of one million dollars if they all tough it out - anyone leaves, they all lose. Then the food starts running out, the heat gets shut off, and tensions rise. And then a package arrives with a bottle of champagne and a shotgun...
  • The Running Man, The Film of the Book of Stephen King's novel. In addition to the title game (which includes convicted criminals this time), there is a commercial for another game called Climbing for Dollars (Watch the clip here). It features a contestant climbing a rope over a pit filled with angry Dobermans while pulling money off the rope. Partway up a pipe will blast the contestant with gas to try and make them fall. If they do fall, the dogs are waiting.
  • Series 7: The Contenders is a particularly unsubtle version of this with random people drafted into a reality show where they simply have to hunt down and kill each other until a single survivor is left.
  • Slashers, where contestants choose to appear on a Japanese Game Show based around colorful serial killers chasing them through various zones. The contestants are also allowed to kill, rape, etc. each other.
  • In The Stepford Wives, Joanna's background is updated to being the president of a TV network, whose programming is geared towards showing the superiority of women. One of her pet projects, I Can Do Better, was one of these, specifically parodying Temptation Island, with a Happily Married couple being sent to a tropical resort for one week and surrounded with escorts and porn stars in order to see how long their marriage lasts. The events that transpired on the show caused one contestant, Hank, to snap and shoot his now ex-wife Barbara and her new lovers, and he later tries to kill Joanna for creating the show and ruining his marriage. Joanna's response is to plan a reunion show centered around the carnage, only to find that her irresponsible programming decisions, and the ensuing lawsuits, got her fired from the network and blacklisted from television. This is why she and her family head to Stepford.
  • In This Is Your Death, the network decides to create a reality show in which people kill themselves on live television in exchange for large sums of money given to their families.
  • The Truman Show is probably the Trope Codifier for the modern version, and ironically gave the idea to some real-life producers in the first place... It remains an unusual example because the show's creators don't want to put Truman at risk of pain or death, and they only use psychological torment sparingly (e.g. the childhood trauma designed to make him afraid of water and keep him on the island). Truman's life would actually be pretty nice if it wasn't a gigantic lie.
  • Turkey Shoot: The 2014 film changes the plot to be this, convicted murderers are legally hunted for entertainment with millions watching.

  • Acide Sulfurique, from Amélie Nothomb, features a woman named Pannonique who is abducted and forcefully thrown into a TV show named Concentration. She and the other "candidates" are horribly ill-treated and two of them are publicly executed every day (first randomly, then chosen by the public). The heroine tries to resist by being emotionless and not giving viewers what they want, but that makes her their favorite instead. Needless to say, the book raised quite a scandal when it came out.
  • In the short story "Bet Your Life" by Anthony Horowitz, a young boy takes part in the titular game show in which any contestant getting an answer wrong is instantly dispatched in one of various gruesome ways (such as being machine-gunned in the face.) The winner, of course, is the last contestant left alive ... and the show allows children to compete against adults, ostensibly with the approval of the child's parents. The ending introduces a second example of the trope: the "winner" is killed by contestants on another show, whose task was to steal a million pounds. They achieve this by shooting him and taking his prize money.
  • Dead Famous by Ben Elton is based around detectives investigating a murder on a reality show called House Arrest, an obvious Big Brother parody. The murder takes place when a contestant goes to the bathroom during a task to build a Native American "sweat box" and sit in it - designed by the producer to not only provide cover for the murder (since the box is dark and noisy and has no camera in it) but to encourage the contestants to get drunk and have sex in the supposedly "anonymous" environment. The whole layout of the house, as well as its "rules", are also designed to encourage the contestants to get drunk and have sex; and most of the tasks are engineered around the idea of causing as much conflict between the "housemates" as possible.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: The entire Earth is "collected," anything that happened to be indoors repurposed to create a massive, world-spanning Dungeon. The survivors have the choice to enter the Dungeon or eke out their lives on the surface with no shelter — they don't get to change their minds later. Carl is forced to enter the Dungeon with his ex-girlfriend's cat because the alternative was freezing to death, and discovers that the whole thing is part of an alien reality program where every season, the entire universe watches a new planet kill their way through eighteen floors. Except no-one ever gets to floor eighteen (no-one has ever gotten past floor thirteen), and mostly they all just die horribly. Crawlers have the option to sell themselves into slavery to escape starting on the tenth floor, but by all indications that's worse. Carl's entire motivation is Revenge for this completely unnecessary murder of his entire planet. As he progresses, he encounters contradictory laws indicating that not everyone on the outside is on board with the program, and a few lines in book 5 imply that the whole thing is part of a population control program after someone accidentally activated a Precursor artifact that spawned life on billions of worlds.
  • "Going to Series", a short story by Kim Newman, is about a Reality TV Show Mansion show called It's a Madhouse!, in which the housemates have been deliberately selected to be psychologically unstable and to have traits that will rub each other the wrong way, and the mansion has been carefully designed to get on its occupants' nerves in a variety of subtle ways, and furnished with objects chosen for their potential as Improvised Weapons. Unsurprisingly, a creation of Derek Leech, with his regular Psycho Psychologist Dr Myra Lark and Alien Geometries architect Constant Drache on hand to ensure things go as planned. An author's note in a later story casually mentions that they're now on Season 5 of Celebrity Madhouse.
  • Goosebumps: In the book "One Day at Horrorland", the Morris family are captured by the monsters who run the Amusement Park of Doom and forced to participate in a game show where they will be killed if they get any of the questions wrong.
  • The Hunger Games: A group of people ranging in age from twelve to eighteen (one boy and one girl from each district) must be "reaped" every year from the twelve districts of the totalitarian nation of Panem. They are then taken to be "tributes" in a live game show of murder, mayhem, and madness. While the Hunger Games started out as punishment for the Districts after a failed rebellion (which is still their official stated purpose), in time they turned into an annual entertainment event for the wealthy, decadent citizens of the Capitol, surrounded by a great deal of pageantry, sponsorship, and drama.
  • Stephen King wrote two novellas under the Pen Name Richard Bachman addressing this concept:
    • The Running Man: The protagonist Richards is hunted down for sport on a TV game show. He volunteered for the show to try and get money to save his sick daughter. The book also has a couple of other gameshows - there's one where people with heart problems are wired up to a heart monitor, put on a treadmill, and asked questions. Every time they get it wrong, the treadmill speeds up.
    • The Long Walk: One hundred teens compete to see who could walk the longest—those who go too slow get shot. However, while there are spectators along the route, it's not being filmed for broadcast like the Running Man, which makes it more of a plain old Deadly Game.
  • The second My Brother is a Superhero book is about aliens whose whole culture revolves around this. Every season of The Show involves invading a new planet. When they win (and they always have, for the thousand years it's been running) the inhabitants have The Show beamed directly into their brains so that they do nothing but watch it for the rest of their lives.
    "The audience must grow."
  • Nerve by Jeanne Ryan is about an online game of dares that turns out to be a Blood Sport, combining this trope with
  • A variation appears in Robert Silverberg's story "The Pain Peddlers": entertainment corporations offer to pay people to undergo surgery without anesthesia so that their pain can be recorded and experienced by customers as a form of entertainment.
  • Robert Sheckley provides two examples:
    • His 1953 short story, "The Seventh Victim", which was made into a film called The Tenth Victim in 1965, and a full novel the next year, featured contestants taking turns being hunter and hunted in a fully televised deadly game.
    • His 1958 story "The Prize of Peril" was similar, but with a more traditional game show format, and is the basis for the German film Das Millionenspiel and considered a probable inspiration for Stephen King's The Running Man.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock:
    • A mild example on Jack's deliberately terrible game show Homonym. In it, you have to guess which meaning of a homonym the questioner is using. Whatever you guess, you always get the wrong answer, you're never allowed to see the answer card, and the game appears to keep going until you get one right or crack. The one we see ends with the contestant running off in distress after being told that what he thought was au pair, "a sort of foreign babysitter", was in fact oh pear, "an exclamation about a pear".
    • There's also "MILF Island", which put eighth-graders on an island with MILFs who competed in extremely sexualised Survivor-style challenges. And for extra points; one of the MILFs died.
  • The Big Leap:
    • Executive Producer Nick seems bent on turning the eponymous reality show into one, often pulling stunts to boost ratings and rarely giving the cast or crew prior warning. We find out in the second episode that he has a history with these, as his project right before this was a show called Atlantis that appeared to be Big Brother underwater. That show ended only a few episodes in when an oil spill forced an evacuation, but several contestants refused to leave because they still wanted to win. Nobody died, but Nick still had a suit brought against him.
    • Brittney's mom Tanya also tries to get the two of them onto one called Whore-lando, where they both attempt to date the same guy.
  • Black Mirror:
    • "Fifteen Million Merits" is a critique of reality-competition shows and their audiences. At one point, the heroine is told that she isn't good enough to be a professional singer … and is drugged and coerced into being in porn.
    • In "White Bear", a woman wakes up with no memory and is hunted by a few deranged mask-wearing killers while a mostly silent audience watches while filming on their phones. It turns out that this is a reality show designed to torture the woman, who was convicted of helping her boyfriend abduct and murder a child, and filming the entire ordeal.
  • Blake's 7: In "Death-Watch", two planetary systems routinely wage war via Combat by Champion. While it's Serious Business for the governments concerned (the losing side has to make the same repatriations as if they'd lost a real war), it's this trope for the audience, as the combatants are implanted with microsensors so the audience can experience what they feel.
    Del Tarrant: So that's the ultimate excitement. Murder without guilt, death without loss.
  • "Witch Wars" in the Charmed episode of the same name. Run by demons for a demonic audience (who of course gather at a Bad Guy Bar to watch it), the show involved demons hunting down and killing witches so they can take their powers. Since Survivor was beating Charmed in the ratings during the episode was aired, there were a few take thats aimed at reality shows in general. One of the demonic co-hosts says "You'd think demons would've invented reality television. Somehow humans beat us to it."
  • The Comeback is about a washed-up sitcom actress desperate to get back into the spotlight, so she agrees to be in a reality show that involves being humiliated at every opportunity. What makes this astonishing is that the show predates many actual such shows done by real celebrities. Lisa Kudrow, who played the lead, claims many friends and acquaintances thought it was a show about her own life.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy": Visitors to the circus are killed for the amusement of the Gods of Ragnarok.
    • "Bad Wolf": The Doctor, Rose, and Jack are brought to a TV broadcast space station where the whole population can get drafted into reality TV shows where loss equals vaporization. Well, it turns out the vaporization ray is actually a transmat beam, but the fate they're being transmatted to is no less unpleasant.
  • Girls5eva: Wickie becomes a judge on the music competition American Warrior Singer, where contestants have to sing and fight off an opponent at the same time. Some are seen exiting the stage with gruesome injuries. It was also stated to have been the first television program developed entirely by a ratings algorithm.
  • De Grote Donorshow (or The Great Donor Show) was an elaborate hoax special in the Netherlands in 2007, centered around twenty-five patients requiring a kidney transplant fighting for the selection of a supposedly terminally ill woman, even involving Audience Participation with live viewers being able to send advice via text message. In the lead-up to the special, it was widely slammed in real life due to just how abhorrent and barbaric the whole concept seemed (even then-prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende publicly condemned it), but once the special aired and they reached the final two patients, the curtain was pulled: host Patrick Lodiers revealed that the woman was in fact an actress, and all the patients were in on the charade... but they themselves genuinely needed kidney transplantations, highlighting the country's shortage of organ donors, the borderline "popularity contest"-style lottery that actual donorship is decided upon, and blasting the Dutch government for its inaction regarding the absurdly long wait lists. Director Paul Römer said with no uncertainty after the fact that they would never do a show like this for real, but had to pull a stunt like this to raise awareness of a serious problem their country was facing (and it worked — within just two days of the special's airing, over 50 thousand people applied to become donors).
  • This trope has been around for as long as there have been game shows. On I Love Lucy's fifth episode, "The Quiz Show", Lucy goes on the show Females are Fabulous for a chance to win a thousand dollars (a large sum in The '50s) and pay off her debts. On the set, the previous contestant shows up to collect her reward covered in bandages from going down Niagara Falls in a barrel. Lucy's task is to convince her husband Ricky that an actor from the show is her first husband (divorce and remarriage was more serious back then). After a misunderstanding with a hobo, the actor shows up, and after a heated argument that nearly results in Ricky leaving, the actor says Lucy beat the challenge and gives her the money, which Ricky uses to settle her debts. When Lucy demands to have whatever's left, he hands her a one-dollar bill.
  • Le Jeu de la Mort was a French documentary special that purported to be one of these. Contestants on a game show called La Zone Xtrême would receive electric shocks of increasing intensity as punishment for giving incorrect answers. The contestants and host were actors, but the people administering the shocks weren't, and they thought it was real. It was a recreation of the Milgram experiment updated for the reality TV era.
  • The Jonathan Creek episode "Gorgon's Wood" has a subplot in which Adam Klaus agrees to appear on a show called Animal Farm ("Orwellian names are in, apparently") in which he is literally treated like a pig.
  • In one episode of Judge John Deed, a contestant in a reality show where contestants are divided into "slaves" and "masters" is murdered during a live broadcast.
  • Kamen Rider Geats centers around the Desire Grand Prix, in which contestants are given superpowers and tasked with competing to defeat a legion of plant-based monsters, with the winner getting whatever they wished for at the start of the game. The average number of players at the start of a seven-week season is about two dozen, the average number of survivors is about three, and it's all for the entertainment of humans in the distant future, who've become so bored that they're meddling with the past just for kicks.
  • The Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Blackmail" has a TV presenter hinting at secrets people have and encouraging them to send money.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In the episode "Fun and Games", an alien transports a man and women to another planet, where they are forced to fight a pair of aliens from another race to the death. The battle is broadcast on the homeworld of the alien who brought them there. Once the battle is over, the homeworld of the losers is to be destroyed, which will also be broadcast to the aliens for their amusement.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): "Judgment Day" involves a TV show where crime victims' families hunt down and kill the apparent killers. The guy the episode focuses on didn't do it, was framed by the show's producer, and uses the show to clear himself.
  • In Sliders, criminal trials are conducted via evil game show in "Dead Man Sliding".
  • The Twilight Zone (2002) had the episode "How Much Do You Love Your Kid?", in which a game show kidnaps a woman's child and gives her an hour to follow clues to find them, or else she'll never see them again. Anything goes, up to and including murder — which awards higher prize money!
  • Victorious has the episode "Brain Squeezers", where the cast goes to compete on the titular show. Initially is appears as a typical question and answer game show, with a cash prize for the winning team. However, they learn that when a contestant gets a question wrong, they suffer physical penalties. These penalties include getting heavy objects dropped on them, getting sprayed with pus, and getting punched in the face. Bear in mind, the protagonists are still teenagers. Then things start to malfunction, causing contestants to get penalized even if they get the question right. To make matters even worse, it turns out that in order to get the prize money the winning contestant must flip over a wrestler. This means that winning the contest is practically impossible.
  • Unreal portrays its Show Within a Show as this. The main characters are producers and assistants on Everlasting, a sleazy parody of The Bachelor (which, notably, Show Runner Sarah Gertrude Shapiro had previously worked for), cruelly manipulating the contestants for the sake of drama. Working behind-the-scenes on such a soul-crushing, morally bankrupt show is portrayed as a Money, Dear Boy job for the protagonist Rachel, who openly hates Everlasting and only came back to her job (after snapping and flipping out at the end of the last season) because of the steady paycheck and the numbing effects of alcohol.
  • The Belgian TV series Willy's en Marjetten showed a tv station experimenting with several such formats, including one where contestants bought the right to hit someone they didn't like in the face in return for a donation to charity, and a show here a bunch of couples with different STDs were put in a cheating-encouraging environment, their cheating tracked by STD transmission. (which was in fact presented as a ripoff of a real-life show that did the same thing, but without the STDs).
  • The 1968 BBC TV movie The Year of the Sex Olympics has a family sent to live on a remote island for a reality TV show. Unknown to them, an insane murderer is sent there too to add drama.

  • The GWAR song "Slaughterama" has the band's manager, Sleazy P. Martini, host the titular game show where the contestants (a hippie, a glam rock star and a Neo-Nazi) must answer nonsensical questions for cash and prizes. The penalty for getting them wrong? Murder.
  • The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Couch Potato" includes:
    Network execs with naked ambitions
    Next week on Fox, watch lions eat Christians

  • The titular show in the Twilight Histories episode “Re-Write!” Sixteen historical figures are forced to compete in contests of strength and knowledge. Losing a competition results in the contestant having a major life event altered. Getting eliminated often leads to changes resulting in unpleasant deaths.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the mid-2000s, the French show Les Guignols de l'Info parodied this with Patrick Lelay and Étienne Mougeotte, the leaders of the biggest French channel TF1. They showed them in competition with M6 to find the most over-the-top reality show possible, one being called Rape Island.
  • The Muppets:
    • Muppets Tonight has Swift Wits, a game show that put the lives of animals on the line. Naturally, everyone failed (and even when someone won the animal was eaten anyway).
    • In The Muppets 2011 movie, there is mention of (and we see a little bit of) Punch Teacher. It's highly rated but is shut down by the teacher's union, opening up a timeslot for the Muppets' telethon.

  • Dead Ringers: Love Island starts ignoring Offcom complaints, and starts blackmailing the contestants into taking part, before moving on to things like unleashing anthrax on them, until they're 'stopped' by Danny Dyer bursting in and swearing at them.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Shadowrun the major Mega Corps compete in an annual televised event in the irradiated wasteland that used to be Libya known as the Desert Wars. It's one of the most popular shows in the Sixth World and has spun off competing "campaigns" in the Mojave, the Gobi Desert, and the even more irradiated SOX.
  • In the TORG cosm of Tharkold, a wacky game show host assigns kidnap victims a plausible-sounding task for a reality show but doesn't inform them of the "complicatoring factoids" that make it a death sentence.
  • Goodman Games' X-Crawl setting (for Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition, Pathfinder and Dungeon Crawl Classics) takes place in a Dungeon Punk modern-day Earth where dungeon crawling has become a televised contest with plenty of Kayfabe in the vein of Wipe Out 2008 and American Ninja Warrior... except, of course, for the part where people die horrible deaths if they screw up.

    Video Games 
  • Apex Legends:
    • Within its universe, Apex Legends is a Blood Sport called the Apex Games that is televised across the Outlands where the eponymous "Legends" compete for a chance to win fame and glory as Apex Champions. It's not as egregious as other examples considering joining the games is voluntary, except for the fact that several characters compete for genuinely good causes. For these legends, joining a brutal game is the only way they know how to survive, and may be the only way they see their dreams being fulfilled. For example:
      • Lifeline competes in order to help fund a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping war-torn communities rebuild.
      • Gibraltar competes in order to keep his friends from joining, using his winnings to help them financially.
      • Horizon joined just in time for the games to move to Olympus, her home, so that she can find a way to return to a son she left behind after being betrayed by a colleague.
    • On the flip side, the Apex Games are controlled by a shady criminal organization known as The Syndicate, and was founded by the most deadly mercenary on the Outlands, Kuben Blisk. Some of the participating legends were personally invited by him, and others are forced to join because of personal vendettas against the Syndicate. Corruption within the games is so bad that the audience can bet on the winning Legend through an underground gambling ring with a cheating algorithm, something that Crypto and his sister uncovered and subsequently resulted in them being chased by the Syndicate.
  • Dicey Dungeons is a Roguelike featuring a game show hosted by Lady Luck, where she turns contestants into anthropomorphic dice and have them fight through a mook-infested dungeon for a chance to win their heart's greatest desire. The contestants aren't allowed to leave until they win on a totally rigged wheel or give up and become a minion.
  • Grand Theft Auto III had advertisements on the radio for "Liberty City Survivor". It's not a season of Survivor set in Liberty City. It's actually a show where they've armed a bunch of recently paroled felons and let them kill each other (on a side note, the player never encounters the contestants since they never participate in such events until LCS as a multiplayer mode).
  • Madworld is about a city-wide version of this where people are forced to fight to the death for the chance to get a cure for the disease sprayed over the city. Our protagonist Jack is sent into the city to recusing his target but it's more than just that. The commentators Howard "Buckshot" Homles and Kreese Kreely gleefully act as the Greek Chorus to the mayhem.
  • The incredibly controversial Manhunt features a Snuff Film version distributed by an insane former Hollywood director. The protagonist's goal is, quite simply, to hunt down and murder rival gang members as violently as possible, before they do him in the same way. (Never mind the in-story reality show, the game was pretty controversial.)
  • The Pancakes Official Game Show involves pushing innocent bystanders into lava in order to progress during the second level, and when you win the last game, everyone else will be locked in the building and killed. All for your prize of 1,000,000 living pancakes.
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked sends the hero in the survival show produced by Gleeman Vox, Dreadzone, where kidnapped heroes fight in "events" that are more like military actions or face the consequences. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal also had arenas called the Mega-Corp Games and Annihilation Nation, respectively, though there the contestants were at least volunteers.
  • Saints Row'':
    • Saints Row: The Third has "Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax", a Running Man-style game show in which the player must fight through a gauntlet of furries and mascots while surviving death traps and gaining enough points to continue.
    • It's so popular that the evil and classy alien overlord Zinyak abducts the show's hosts Zach and Bobby and makes them do his new version of the show in Saints Row IV. Neither of them likes it, especially Zach, but they're forced to keep up the act or else they will be punished.
  • Smash TV was about a TV show in which the participants had to survive an onslaught of many enemies to get cash prizes... including the infinite ammo thing, but it included a lot of killing other human beings for "entertainment".
  • In Temtem, the island of Tucma is a Death World filled with toxic fumes, acid lakes, roving bandits, and Toxic-type Temtem. It's mentioned there's a reality show that strands ten random people there without any Temtem for protection.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Mutual Killing game of the Danganronpa franchise, where participants are given Laser-Guided Amnesia and made to kill each other, is often compared to a reality show, and has been broadcasted as such numerous times:
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, the game is being broadcast to drive the entire world into despair.
    • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the broadcast is being shown to some of the survivors from the first game, though this is largely coincidental since they were already watching before Monokuma showed up and he's got other plans this time.
    • In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, the broadcast turns out to be fake, and there were never any cameras. You don't need cameras when your intended audience is one of the participants experiencing the game first hand.
    • The ending of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony reveals that the game is an actual reality show based off the now in-universe Danganronpa franchise, and currently in its 53rd season (or 50th, since it had to have started with Danganronpa 4 at the earliest). The cast (barring Keebo) were given fake memories to disguise this fact, and once they discover the truth, they desperately attempt to convince the audience this season should be the last.

  • Hero Oh Hero: Tobi enlists herself in The Gauntlet, a reality show about 25 kaizo deathtraps long. Since megacorporations rule the city and corruption is a way of life, the Gauntlet is designed to be unwinnable and nobody watching cares. Until Tobi and her partner use their dungeon crawling cybernetics to deconstruct the game into level 1-1.
  • Last Res0rt centers on a reality show where condemned criminals fight for survival, though four of the contestants are volunteers rather than convicts. As of the fifth episode, only two contestants have actually died, and one between episodes when he was found to be The Mole.
  • Schlock Mercenary offers a treatise on the link between social upheaval and depraved entertainment, though the reality show the Toughs were hired to take down was a fairly normal fashion show.


    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius Jimmy and his friends are forced to compete in an intergalactic game show where the losers' home planets are blown up and the winner gets a fancy car. After winning they get the other contestants to gang up on the host and cancel it.
  • In Big Mouth, Nick Birch has anxiety-induced nightmares where he grows up to be the host of a game show that involves forcing people to commit depraved and humiliating acts on television for Bitcoin.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers had the Planeteers face off against the eco-villains on "You Bet Your Planet", in order to prove that humanity could be trusted with the Earth's care.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch, a show all about celebrities engaging in gladiatorial combat.
  • One episode in The Crumpets has Lil-One getting his family to join his uncle and aunt's reality game show "My Family's Full of Losers", where family members compete to stay or else they'll get ejected to the moon. Lil-One hopes that he and his mother will be the only winners. The first challenge pits the family members to slap each other, and another one has a member assigned to shoot and kill the others.
  • Speaking of animated reality TV spoofs, Drawn Together is even worse. The house members are frequently killed, but they come back in the same episode anyway.
  • Johnny Bravo got himself into one of these. He accidentally teleported himself into an alien game show, where the losers get their home planet destroyed. Johnny wins the final round which is "Suck my brain out!" his opponent couldn't suck his brain because he didn't have much to speak of, and the host has to destroy their planet.
  • On Rick and Morty, Earth is forced to participate in an intergalactic singing competition by the Cromulons, with the home planet of the losers being destroyed.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" has the family participate on a game show, Happy Smile Super Challenge Family Wish Show, in order to get plane tickets back home. The thing is, it's a Japanese game show built around physically and psychologically torturing the contestants, and the Simpsons are subject to all of its worst abuses.
      Wink: "Now, our game shows are a little different from yours. Your shows reward knowledge. We punish ignorance."
      Homer: "Ignor-what?" (a flamethrower hidden in his microphone goes off in his face)
      Wink: "Okay, let's begin. Our categories are 'ow, that hurts!', 'why are you doing this to me?', and 'please, let me die'."
    • "Bart vs. Lisa vs. 3rd Grade" had the simplistic Touch the Stove.
    • And then there's "The Frying Game" where Homer and Marge are framed for murder, arrested, and even sentenced to death before the reveal that they've been unwilling participants in the reality show "Frame-Up".
    • The "Treehouse Of Horror IX" segment "Hell Toupee" had Snake Jailbird executed via electric chair on national television in a Fox Network special, "The Country's Most Violent Executions", hosted by Ed McMahon.
    • "Heartbreak Hotel" had Homer and Marge participate in a reality show called The Amazing Place, only to be the first to get eliminated. Instead of going back to their kids at home, they were forced to spend weeks at a hotel to avoid spoiling the show's outcome, to Marge's chagrin. Marge eventually gets the chance to rejoin the show during its final week.
    • In "Treehouse Of Horror XVI"'s "Survival Of The Fattest", it turns out that Mr. Burns' hunting spree is being aired live on Fox Sports. This revelation is even weirder when it turns out that Marge has a TV Guide advertising this event (with Homer being chased by Burns on the cover and the label "Must Flee TV"). She wondered what that meant until she saw the show.
  • On South Park, one episode reveals that Earth is just a reality TV show for aliens. In reality, each planet only has one species—a planet of deer, a planet of Asians, etc. The Precursors are a TV network that put all these different species on Earth just so that the universe can watch them kill each other.
  • Total Drama embodies this trope.
    • The very first challenge has the contestants dive off an absurdly high cliff into shark-infested waters (the sharks in question being Man-Eating Freshwater Sharks), with only a very small "safe zone". It doesn't help that the host Chris McLean is a shameless sadist wholly apathetic to the safety of his contestants.
    • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race is nowhere near as indifferent to safety as its parent series, since Don lacks Chris' casual sense of sadism, but even then, some of the challenges are still absurdly dangerous and rather immoral. For instance, the fourth episode has the contestants taking on hungry sharks in order to get the tips attached to the animals' bodies, with Don stating that being eaten by the sharks counts as an automatic disqualification from the contest.


Video Example(s):


Viol Island

Viol Island (English: Rape Island) is a show that involves a young woman trying to survive on a deserted island filled with a whole bunch of insane rapists and murderers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImmoralRealityShow

Media sources: