The 11 Worst Game Shows Of All Time

Photo: Ray Mickshaw/FOX.
Some game shows are great. Jeopardy! is a classic test of knowledge. The Price Is Right was the best part about staying home sick from school growing up. Not every game show idea can be a hit, though. In fact, some of them are just downright frightening.

On June 25, Boom! premieres on Fox. It’s an adaptation of an Israeli game show on which contestants have to diffuse a (thankfully fake) bomb before it detonates. What’s inside? “Mystery slime,” which could be anything from maple syrup to guacamole. The goop explosion is reminiscent of Nickelodeon’s glory days, but the whole bomb premise has been catching heat for making light of the serious threat of IEDs that members of the military face every day. Also, would getting covered in guacamole really be so bad?

Boom!’s explosion of bad press sent us searching for other infamously tone-deaf game show premises. From the hilariously awkward to the horribly insensitive, these are the worst game shows of all time.
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Country: Israel

Originally conceived by Israeli content creators Keshet, Boom! hit the international rights market last year and has already been adapted in Spain, France, and Belgium, where it’s lauded as an “explosive hit.” When FOX announced it was producing the bomb-defusing game show for American television, however, it was greeted with a less-than-enthusiastic response. Many people found the network’s decision to produce a show glorifying explosives insensitive, given the timing of the decision soon after the anniversary of the Boston marathon bombings, and considering all of the members of the armed forces who risk their lives dealing with IEDs.
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Naked Jungle
Country: U.K.

Billed as the ultimate naturist game show, this was pretty much your standard "contestants compete on an obstacle course" format — except that everyone, including host Keith Chegwin, was nude. It wasn't censored at all and is frequently ranked among the worst programs to ever air on U.K. television.
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Country: Japan

On TORE!, contestants have to answer general knowledge questions while a machine slowly (and then rapidly) mummifies them. It's like Jeopardy! with the added fear of claustrophobia and imminent suffocation.
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Three’s a Crowd
Country: U.S.

Three sets of wives and secretaries competed to see who knew their husband/boss the best. Somewhere, Don Draper is smiling and nodding in approval. The show was picketed by the National Organization for Women because it implied stereotypically intimate relationships between bosses and secretaries.
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Labor Games
Country: U.S.

The New York Times called this new offering on TLC “simultaneously the most brilliant and the most head-shaking game-show idea ever.” On Labor Games, expectant parents compete to win prizes by answering trivia questions about child-rearing. Oh, and this is happening in the actual delivery room while the woman is in labor and about to give birth. At least it’s a distraction from the contractions?
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Country: U.S.

The premise was nauseatingly simple: The contestant who eats the most and then engages in physical activity without vomiting wins the Iron Stomach Award. Yay?
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Brain Wall/Hole in the Wall
Country: Japan and others

"Brain Wall" (sometimes called "Human Tetris") is a popular segment on the Japanese game show Tonneruzu no Minasan no Okage deshita (roughly translated, Tunnels’ Thanks to Everyone), during which contestants have to contort their bodies to fit through various-sized holes in walls. The concept is mind-numbingly simple, but clips of the segment became incredibly popular on YouTube. Brain Wall was soon adapted into its own free-standing show in over 45 countries, including the U.S., where it aired on Fox as Hole in the Wall.
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You’re Back in the Room
Country: U.K.

Five contestants engage in a series of run-of-the-mill activities — like decorating cakes and making balloon animals — to win a cash prize. The catch? They’re all hypnotized, and the host keeps planting distracting suggestions in their minds. Clinical hypnotherapists have spoken out against the show, saying it exploits people in a vulnerable state for the sake of entertainment.
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Nada más que la verdad (Nothing but the Truth)
Country: Colombia

The premise was extremely simple: A contestant was hooked up to a polygraph and asked a series of questions, which he or she had to answer truthfully to win more money. The questions would get increasingly personal and more embarrassing as the prize value increased. The show was adapted in several countries, including the United States, where it was called The Moment of Truth. It was canceled in Colombia after a contestant admitted that she had paid a hit man to kill her husband. On the controversy-courting U.S. version, a woman admitted that she still had feelings for her ex-boyfriend and had cheated on her husband.
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Strip the Girl
Country: Japan

Contestants try to knock out numbered panels in order to reveal a woman’s naked body. Ugh.
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My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad
Country: U.S.

Super-producer Mark Burnett — he of hits such as Survivor and The Apprentice — gets inspiration for game shows everywhere, and in this case, he appeared to have plumbed the depths of popular playground taunts. In this short-lived show hosted by Dan Cortese, four fathers and their kids competed against one another in four rounds of stunts and questions. Plus, there was a bonus round called “My Dad Knows Me Better,” which sounds like it could be more emotionally devastating than losing the game.
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