Every episode involves one of the team, or someone who's expressed interest in participating, being kidnapped by the other three or four, searched for anything that's considered to offer a blatant advantage in a survival situation, blindfolded and escorted to some remote location around the world. When playing the game they have 100 hours to find someone who can either get them back to civilisation or give them the four essentials for survival. A biometric belt is worn by the participant to allow the team to determine if they get into a critical condition; if they do or if they put themselves in very real danger they are disqualified and automatically lose the game.
The team will leave the participant with a kit containing some obviously useful items but also some more unusual items. A camera operator accompanies the participant throughout the game but is under strict instructions not to help them out. Essentially it's a test of the individual's survival skills and ability to make the most of what they receive.
- A Father to His Men: Terry Schappert trained as a medic and is often described as being the mother hen of the team.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Terry and John embody this; especially John who, during the initial phase of his debut episode, was about to give a lecture on SERE (Survive Evade Resist Extract) when he sees Terry and Jake walk in with grins on their faces.John Hudson: [to the attendees, explaining their presence] My friends. [carries on with the lecture for a moment before he starts running]
- Deserted Island: Terry ends up on one in his debut as the participant. Jake as well in the final episode of the second series. He was on an inhabited island at first but didn't know that.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: The team includes a (former) Navy SEAL, a Green Beret and an RAF helicopter pilot.
- Epic Fail: In Jake's second participation he constantly chooses the wrong direction to go in and tries crossing the Namib desert in the middle of the day.
- Gone Horribly Right: In the second series a newcomer wins the game by making a signal fire when every previous lead led him in a big circle, only to be arrested by the Canadian military.
- Interservice Rivalry: Jake and Terry get in on this from time to time.
- Jerkass: Jake Zweig's the one who'll leave you with something even he doesn't know if it can be useful.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As the participant you're apprehended when you least expect it, searched and dropped off in the middle of nowhere for up to 100 hours, but the team will come to the rescue if the situation gets too serious.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: In his debut (see above) Terry's supposed to jump out of an aircraft but snatches the first aid kit just beforehand.
- The Load: In Terry's second participation he's given a puppy to look after during the game.
- MacGyvering: Once again everyone's expected to be this when participating, but Tom Moore has this as his raison d'etre.
- Opposing Combat Philosophies: Each of them tackles the ultimate goal differently but Matt and Tom in particular have a preference for living off the land.
- Proud Warrior Race: In Matt's third participation he meets the Masai.
- Put on a Bus: Army pathfinder Tom Moore only appeared in the first series.
- Real Men Wear Pink: In Jake's debut as the participant he's given a full-size pink teddy bear.
- Spot of Tea: Subverted with John who makes a tea-substitute with pine needles in his debut as the participant.
- What an Idiot!: In John's second participation he eats a prickly pear cactus raw. for Jake's second round it was worse when he started eating any kind of plant on the principle that it contained water.