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Series / Surviving The Cut

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Unnamed instructor, Introductory montage

A Documentary / Reality Television series produced by the Discovery Channel, Surviving the Cut covers some of the most challenging training schools and selection programs offered by the US Military. Episodes commonly involve brutal workouts, lots of screaming from all involved, sadistic instructors, and candidates losing control of their bodily functions or quitting in despair. Each episode is also interspersed with interviews of the candidates, the instructors, and the officers who command the training cadres in order to play up the difficulty of what the candidates are going through or the importance of the training to the overall mission of America's armed forces. Notably, the series only covers a few selection courses for special operations units, choosing to focus on some of the lesser-known, but still difficult, conventional training. Candidates who "survive the cut" are typically awarded a certificate, a small piece of cloth, or the opportunity to move on to even more difficult training and they wouldn't have it any other way.


This show contains examples of:

  • Bomb Disposal: It's in the name: Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).
  • Cold Sniper: The Army and Marine sniper schools try to instill this mindset in their students through mind games and other forms of stress.
  • Combat Medic: What the Air Force Pararescue candidates will become. Their selection course includes large scale casualty evacuation exercises.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Played absolutely straight. The instructors crank the pressure up big time and make it clear in the interviews that they want the students to succeed and live up to the standards of the course.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Averted. Schools for more conventional skills like demolitions and combat diving are given equal representation alongside special operations training.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": The instructors in charge of selection for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the "Nightstalkers") are to be addressed as Sergeant Nightstalker and nothing else.
  • Advertisement:
  • Heroic BSoD: Invoked by the Nightstalker instructors when the candidates fail to do a full headcount. They are all forced to assume a "sitting" position and mime writing a notice of death to the families of the "deceased". You can see some of the candidates on the verge of tears.
  • Informed Ability: The episode about Sappers does not feature much actual "sapping".
  • More Dakka: The Naval Special Warfare Combatant Craft (SWCC) basic training includes a segment on handling all manner of heavy weapons. A safety violation in this part is grounds for instant dismissal.
  • Ranger: The series' very first episode covers Ranger Schoolnote .
  • Semper Fi: Comes in both Reconaissance Battalion and Scout Sniper flavors.
  • Training from Hell: Almost every single episode, due to the exacting standards of the courses. Most notably, during the SWCC basic course, candidates crawl on the beach while an instructor drones, "this is designed to hurt", repeatedly through a megaphone.