Celebrities You Forgot Appeared On Fear Factor

Fear Factor, which compelled contestants to compete in gross, scary, and oftentimes dangerous stunts, aired on and off between 2001 and 2017. Joe Rogan hosted the early incarnation of the series, recalling in 2018 on his podcast, "Immediately it was a hit. I was like, this is so stupid, the show was so stupid. And the reason why I got the gig was because I made fun of it."

The contestants typically competed for a monetary prize, but celebrity guests faced their worst fears for charity. NBC cancelled the show in 2006, brought it back in 2011, and cancelled it again in 2012. MTV revived the program in 2017 with host Ludacris but it only lasted two seasons. Numerous B-list , C-list, and D-list stars appeared on the show over the years, proving how brave they were (or weren't). These famous men and women performed some incredible stunts and did everything they could to support their charities and prove that fear was not a factor.

Jersey Shore alum Snooki got bitten by a scorpion

Reality stars Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Deena Cortese competed as a team known as Team Meatballs in 2018, as shown on the official Fear Factor Facebook. Their Fear Factor appearance was nearly a decade after they first appeared on MTV's Jersey Shore (2009 and 2010, respectively). Polizzi was a mom of two young sons when she signed up for Fear Factor, and they inspired her to do it. "I want [my kids] to be at least proud of something that I've done on TV," she said of her Fear Factor appearance.

Polizzi and Cortese called themselves Team Meatballs because they represented the short, curvy girls, and Polizzi revealed that her biggest fears were ghosts, aliens, monsters, the dark, and heights. Apparently, she didn't like scorpions very much either. During one challenge, the Meatballs played a spin the bottle game involving creepy crawlers and landed on a crab, a millipede, a hornworm, and a scorpion. They were tasked with moving the creatures with just their mouths and succeeded in moving three of them. Unfortunately, after the scorpion bit Polizzi's lip, she gave up, according to toofab. Not that anyone can blame her. 

Donny Osmond took the game very, very seriously

When you think of tough celebrities, maybe you think of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Jason Statham, or Keanu Reeves. But guess what? You can add singer and dancer Donny Osmond of Donny & Marie fame to the list because he is a tough son of a you-know-what. In 2001, he squared off against rapper Coolio, Baywatch stars David Hasselhoff and Brooke Burns, WWE star Joanie Laurer, and actress Kelly Preston on Fear Factor.

His fellow competitors underestimated him, and Osmond had a lot of fun riling up the other contests, reported the Deseret News. "He had his game face on probably more than any of the other competitors the entire time," host Joe Rogan said of his appearance. Osmond tackled every challenge with excitement, including one in which he had to put his head in a box filled with centipedes, millipedes, worms, and scorpions. Osmond loved reality show competitions so much he ended up competing on and winning season nine of Dancing With the Stars (via  YouTube) and masqueraded as a peacock on season one of The Masked Singer (via YouTube).

Alan Thicke was eliminated after falling in the first challenge

Most people remember Canadian actor Alan Thicke for his role as Dr. Jason Seaver on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains. He appeared alongside several other celebrities in Fear Factor's tenth episode of season two in 2002. Thicke made it clear in the video, posted on YouTube, that he was representing his generation — and at 55 he was the oldest member in the competition. Unfortunately, while he was able to scale a 36-story building for the first challenge, he fell before he completed the task, which involved collecting flags.

"Frankly I'm disappointed, I'm bitter, I'm fed up," he deadpanned after losing the challenge. He further joked, "I've embarrassed my family ...cI wish nothing but ill will for [fellow competitor] Stephen [Baldwin]." The good news is that the show still donated $10,000 to his chosen charity, the Shining Stars Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Thicke hosted a variety of game shows and appeared in several TV shows before he died in 2016 of a type-A aortic dissection, according to People. He was 69 years old.

Alison Sweeney freaked out more than any contestant

Days of Our Lives star Alison Sweeney went on the show in 2002 with the aim of proving that soap stars were tough and not divas. But there was one challenge that scared the heck out of her. She was tasked with moving white snakes from her torso into a bucket while worms squirmed all over her legs, and cockroaches covered her face. She repeatedly yelled in the video, which you can watch on YouTube, "I'm about to freak out! I'm about to seriously freak out!" Amazingly she completed the challenge, but the producers wouldn't let her out of the container until all the snakes were removed (which nearly caused a nervous breakdown). 

Meanwhile, fellow contestant Stephen Baldwin cheered on the sidelines and was absolutely giddy over her reaction. The other contestants, however, offered encouraging and supportive words. Competitor Ali Landry said she'd never in her life seen somebody freak out like that. Joe Rogan agreed, and when Sweeney was on the chopping block, he said she could go to the finals if she ate a cockroach. She was pressured to do it for charity, and Rogan said he would eat one too. Instead Sweeney chewed and swallowed three worms, while Rogan ate the cockroach without hesitation. "Now that is why I'm the host of Fear Factor," he boasted as the contestants grimaced at his disgusting snack.

Kelly Preston and John Travolta pitched the celeb version of the show

The idea for a celebrity edition of Fear Factor came from an actual celebrity. Actress Kelly Preston, who appeared in films such as Twins, Jerry Maguire, SpaceCamp, and Old Dogs, and husband John Travolta were huge fans of the show. Executive producer Matt Kunitz told the Deseret News the couple liked the reality program so much they contacted NBC to get copies of episodes they missed.

"And Kelly said, 'If you ever consider doing a celebrity episode, please think of me,'" Kunitz explained. That little morsel of information prompted the team to put together a celebrity edition. Kunitz added that the celebrity element changed the vibe, and it was a "ton of fun." He was surprised that the stars were so easy to work with. While Preston, who competed on the show in 2001, had a tiny entourage on set, the other stars showed up on their own with little pretense. 

David Hasselhoff made such an impression, his daughter later appeared on the program

David Hasselhoff has been a household name for decades. He appeared alongside a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am named KITT on the 80's TV series Knight Rider and in the 90's eye-candy show Baywatch. In 2001, he appeared on Fear Factor, and one challenge involved collecting as many flags as possible on top of a moving bus. Before entering the competition, he told the audience in the video you can see on YouTube, "I'm going to win because if I don't win my kids will think I'm the biggest wimp in the world."

He felt a lot of pressure because of his stunt background on Knight Rider. He also mocked fellow competitor Donny Osmond, insinuating that the singer simply wasn't very tough (little did he know). Hasselhoff needed 13 flags to go to the next round, but he only got four. While his performance was less than impressive, it didn't deter his daughter, Taylor, from competing in the show in 2017, according to MTV News. Perhaps it was a way of redeeming the Hasselhoff name. 

Lil Yachty got uncomfortably close to a turkey

In 2018 rapper/singer Lil Yachty's challenge involved corralling some turkeys. All he had to do was wrangle some of the Thanksgiving dinner favorites and move them from one cage to another. It doesn't sound too challenging, but for Lil Yachty, it was quite difficult. At one point he was able to get one into the required cage but only after making some suggestive hip thrusts in the animal's direction. The show's host Ludacris joked, "Did you just hump the turkey?" (via MTV).

In this YouTube clip, you can see how fellow competitor Tyga thought the whole thing was hilarious because he knew it was going to be hard for Lil Yachty to complete the task. Lil Yachty then got more comfortable with the fowl creatures, telling one of them, "You're my friend, we're cool," as he ushered it into the pen. Ludacris was obviously impressed by his performance and commented that Lil Yachty seemed to have a future in turkey herding.

Stephen Baldwin boldly escaped from a shark cage

Viewers got a glimpse into actor Stephen Baldwin's personality when he competed on Fear Factor in 2001. Baldwin, whose brother is actor Alec Baldwin and daughter Hailey Baldwin is married to pop star Justin Beiber, immediately proved that he was the one to beat in the competition, which also included Alan Thicke, Ali Landry, and Alison Sweeney. Baldwin showed no fear and enjoyed other people's discomfort while he sailed through the challenges, which you can watch on YouTube.

He bet the other contestants he would collect the most flags from a 36-story building, and while he lost the bet he was able to move on through the competition with no problems. After he was covered with thousands of night crawlers, snakes, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches, he joked that his manicure had gotten ruined but was calm and cool and didn't miss a beat. In his final challenge, Baldwin had to use one of several keys to escape from a shark cage and successfully swim to the surface of a giant swimming pool. He did so in a whopping 24 seconds.

He ended up being the grand prize winner, as you can see in this clip from MTV. He later said of his reality show appearances, "I've always competed in those shows. Like, I won Fear Factor, I did I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, I did The Mole, Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump. I've done a lot of those shows, all in the hope of being a blessing to my mom's organization."

Joanie "Chyna" Laurer preferred the glamorous life

You may have thought Joanie "Chyna" Laurer was tough due to her professional wrestling career, but she was quite used to the glamorous life before joining the reality show. "Last week I was posing for Playboy in the most glamorous atmosphere you could possibly imagine, and this week I've got bugs all over my a–," Laurer told EW. "This is all foreign to me. I've never even been camping." She competed in the celebrity edition alongside Coolio, Kelly Preston, David Hasselhoff, Brooke Burns, and Donny Osmond in 2001.

In the episode, Laurer admitted that she hated bugs and creepy crawlies, and Osmond tried to psych her out during the insect challenge, telling her she was going to get stung, and the millipedes would crawl into her mouth, as seen on YouTube. Despite her fears, she lasted the entire three minutes. However, it was not enough to win the show. Coolio took home the top prize (even besting Osmond). Laurer died several years later in 2016 of a drug overdose when she was just in her mid-40s, reports NPR.

Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson feared losing his street cred

Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys went into the competition in 2002 with some strong intentions because he didn't want any flack from his fellow boy banders. "I got to represent for them and all my boys back home. But I'm not chickening out," he promised during the episode, which you can watch on YouTube. Richardson, dubbed "the quiet one" by the cast and host, was the first male star of the group to scale the 36-story building. He confessed that he was more concerned about losing to Stephen Baldwin than Alan Thicke.

Richardson compared his feelings about the challenge to butterflies before going on stage for a concert. He wasn't afraid of heights but felt a lot of pressure to win. He also got really tired and felt a lot of muscle fatigue. He admitted that he needed to get back into the gym. Thicke commented that it was a "Boy Band Record" for number of flags on a skyscraper. Richardson got four flags, more than Baldwin who stopped at two and more than Hasselhoff, who fell during the task.

Pauly D Was pumped to face his fears with his Jersey Shore pals

Pauly D from Jersey Shore told viewers in this MTV clip that he was claustrophobic and didn't like to eat weird things because he was a picky eater. He was disgusted by fishy-smelling food because it can make you sick. Luckily, he was paired with fellow Jersey Shore alum Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, who also said he was claustrophobic and didn't like bugs. "We're scared of Fear Factor, yet we're doing it together," Pauly D laughed.

The reality star was happy to face his fears with a buddy who was scared of the same types of things. Ortiz-Magro later joked during the competition that while he showed off his "gym, tan, laundry" skills rather well, he didn't demonstrate any toughness. The duo competed alongside fellow Jersey Shore alumni Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Deena Cortese, as well as four stars from the show Floribama. On the last challenge, the guys had to descend from a helicopter and rescue a dummy by attaching it to the helicopter hook. The Jersey Shore pair rocked the task, seen in this clip from MTV.

Ali Landry was cool as a cucumber and hid one of her biggest fears

Ali Landry, former Miss USA and known largely for her sexy Doritos commercials, told viewers that she considered herself a daredevil and "extremely athletic." She had no problem scaling the 36-story building in the 2002 episode. And while she found bugs crawling all over body "freaky," she didn't break down like fellow contestant Alison Sweeney did. Landry was fairly calm throughout the challenge, commenting afterwards that the worst part was the sound of the hissing cockroaches.

The following day she got an uncomfortable skin reaction from the bugs crawling all over her head and face, and that's when she admitted during the episode, seen on YouTube, that she was very scared of snakes. Yet you couldn't tell from her performance, proving she was quite tough. In the final challenge, she struggled to open the shark cage and had to be saved by divers. She was upset with herself because she quit, and of course it couldn't have been easy losing to the boastful Stephen Baldwin.

Ludacris had a very good reason for taking over hosting duties

When MTV revived the series in 2017, the network replaced Joe Rogan with rapper/actor Ludacris, who also executive produced the program. The show changed its focus slightly, avoiding challenges such as eating disgusting insects to more "playful" tasks that resonated better with Generation Z viewers, like coping with a waterlogged smartphone. The rapper told The Hollywood Reporter that the project would be "even more insane and ludicrous than what you remember." No pun intended.

The challenges are "extremely crazy," Ludacris told EW when the news show visited the site of one of the new episodes. The rapper explained that some of the tasks were very dangerous, including one involving cars driving over a ramp as explosions were set off at the same time. The aim was to flip the car over and slide it on the roof as far as it could possibly go. While the show maintained the "same DNA" as its earlier incarnation, it also added some new flavor. When the show premiered and one million viewers tuned in, it was MTV's most-watched premiere in the past two years.

Ludacris explained that he decided to do the program because he is an adrenaline junkie. Plus, he liked how many of the contestants participated to conquer their fears. He enjoyed helping people overcome them. As for his biggest fear? Watching Jaws as a child made him wary of the ocean. He confessed he didn't like being in open water and having something brush against his leg.