Where The Challenge is concerned, fear has very routinely proven to be a factor for contestants across 29 seasons. Still, between Gauntlet battles and Exes mayhem, players have somehow managed to push through the dread and thrive.
Later this month, MTV will revive Fear Factor, a competition series that originally ran on NBC between 2001 and 2006. The show defied contestants to bathe in snakes, eat live, mouse-sized spiders and traverse the wings of planes that barreled through cloud formations. And each week, the player who best sublimated his or her anxiety walked away with $50,000. But will the show’s newest crop of contenders be able to follow suit and harness nerves of steel?
With Ludacris taking control of the series — which will draw inspiration from urban legends — there’s no telling what madness Fear Factor will bring or who will buckle under the weight of terror. Still, MTV has elsewhere proven it is possible to drown out worry and win. Look back at nine examples of Challenge contestants who silenced the jitters, and be sure to tune in to the premiere of Fear Factor on MTV when it premieres May 30 at 10/9c (and keep watching The Challenge: Champs Vs. Pros every Tuesday at 9/8c).
Melissa, Battle of the Sexes
You name the mission, and the Real World: New Orleans cast member was likely soiling herself over the prospect of completing it. Still, time after time, Melissa overcame her many fears and completed each task, sometimes while literally kicking screaming (just catch her in “Vertical Limit,” above). And her resolve paid off: She was one of the ladies’ final four players, something very few saw coming.
Steven, Battle of the Sexes II
The Real World: Las Vegas export admitted he was “deathly, deathly” afraid of snakes before jumping into a pit of scales and coils, but he nevertheless pushed through misgivings in “Snake Pit Poker” and helped the men’s team walk away with a victory.
Katie, The Inferno
Bungee-jumping off of a raised platform sent Katie into hysterics — so much so that she nearly cost Team Road rules $10,000. But after nearly 10 minutes of crying while staring out at the drop beneath her, she finally jumped and, as Leah was unable to follow suit, Road Rules won the mission by default.
Literally everyone, Fresh Meat
Swimming with sharks? Yup, Fresh Meat really went there and challenged players to complete a puzzle after retrieving pieces from a pool that was teeming with toothy beasts. Tina said she wanted to throw up, Katie wound up quitting and Casey shook so much she nearly caused tremors. Still, incredibly, everyone gave the mission a shot.
Diem, Duel II
The upshot of “Don’t Let Go” on Duel II was pretty simple: Literally don’t let go of your partner, lest she be dropped hundreds of feet into the abyss of a particularly deep New Zealand canyon. Everyone was sweating bullets — but Diem was particularly shaken up. Still, she sucked it up and completed the task, even though it elicited screams you’ll otherwise only find in nightmares.
Johnny Bananas, Rivals II
Competitors have had the chance to enjoy a number of delicacies over the years: animal heads, urine-soaked eggs and blood, among them. Still, Nightmare Island on Rivals II included some particularly nasty dishes, and Bananas made the rare concession that eating gross stuff was his kryptonite. Still, he managed…somehow.
Jessica, Free Agents
There’s nothing terribly soothing about standing atop a rolling log stretched out over Uruguay’s skyscraping World Trade Center, but Jessica, in particular, looked ready to pass out while considering the mission. And while those who attempted to complete “Out on a Ledge” before her failed, something came over the Real World: Portland alum during the show’s premiere, and she managed to get the job done.
Christina, Rivals III
None of the game’s women were thrilled that they had to be buried in actual coffins as part of “Take It to the Grave,” a spooky take on the typical Challenge trivia game. But no one took it worse than Christina, whose partner Nate took nearly forever to unearth her. Still, Christina got some serious credit for sticking the mission out.