Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Fear Factor's Surprising Origin Isn't What You Think

People who watched NBC in the 2000s probably remember being shocked and revolted by the gross tasks contestants had to perform on Fear Factor. The show — originally hosted by actor-comedian-UFC-commentator-podcaster Joe Rogan — featured contestants performing a series of disgusting or dangerous stunts in the hopes of enduring to the end and winning $50,000. 

Fear Factor proved itself to be incredibly popular with American audiences, running for five years before being cancelled. The show even came back a couple of times. Fear Factor returned to the air in 2011, but was cancelled the next year over an episode in which contestants were tasked with drinking a donkey's bodily fluids (think worst possible scenario). The most recent incarnation found Fear Factor on MTV, hosted by Ludacris. For some reason, viewers apparently love to watch contestants suck leeches of their partners or dunk their heads in a massive vat of fresh cow's blood — among Fear Factors worst challenges — though Ludacris' Fear Factor was demonstrably more tame than its predecessor. 

Despite garnering tons of attention as an American TV show, Fear Factor wasn't actually created in the United States. According to Screen Rant, the show originally started out as a Dutch game show.

Fear Factor was based on a show called Now or Neverland

As Screen Rant reports, Now or Neverland was produced by Dutch-owned company Endemol USA. Like Fear Factor, this late-'90s game show featured contestants doing potentially dangerous or gross stunts for large amounts of money. Somewhere around the turn of the millennia, Endemol must have decided that a massive rebranding was in order for the show. The series' producers picked up Rogan to serve as the host and signed a deal to broadcast on NBC.

Not much is known about Now or Neverland. In fact, the show that spawned Fear Factor doesn't even have its own Wikipedia page. Luckily there's at least one full episode of the show floating around on YouTube that offers support for the show's origins. The video had fewer than 1,000 views as of February 2021, so it may be that the Dutch hold very little nostalgia for their version of the risqué game show.