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"Let's say you're flipping through your 8,479 cable channels, and you come across a program called Eat Bugs for Money, wherein they bring out a large live insect, and the contestants secretly write down the minimum amount of money they would have to be given to eat it, and whichever one has the lowest bid has to actually do it. Admit it: YOU would watch this program. In fact, right now you're saying to yourself: 'Hey, I wonder what channel that's on.'"—Dave Barry, "Beetlejuice"
In many Reality Shows, the contestants will at one point have to eat something absolutely disgusting. This will usually be bugs (sometimes living bugs) or even worse. This is commonly cited by the Moral Guardians as evidence that Reality TV is pure trash ("We're eating worms for money!" a character complained in Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip). Occasionally survival-type shows will attempt to vaguely justify it as the equivalent of searching for food and getting whatever is necessary, but in those cases contestants might be doing that anyway and never need to resort to eating or even find anything as gross as what the show forces them to eat. Another common justification is that the food is actually Foreign Queasine; something that the locals do, in fact, eat (although not usually in anywhere near the same quantities as the contestants have to.)
Contrast Reduced to Ratburgers, in which it's typically the eater's survival rather than bank account that's at stake. Not related to If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten. Presumably, this is where these shows would draw the line. We hope.
Not to be confused with Take That.
- Fear Factor, the Trope Codifier. Buffalo testicles and pig rectums were bad enough, but the Championship episode was were it arguably got abusive (maggoty cheese). In the new series, one stunt in particular -- the chugging of donkey semen and urine -- was so nasty that NBC refused to air it.
- Road Rules, in later seasons.
- Silent Library
- Laura en América: In one episode of this famous and ridiculous Peruvian Point and Laugh Show, someone was forced to eat a rocoto for $20, among other humilliations. The name of the episode was “Haría cualquier cosa por dinero” ("I would do anything for the money").
- The Amazing Race (always the "local delicacy" version.)
- I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here: Bush tucker trials have included kangaroo penis, live crickets, cockroach smoothie... and anything else gross the producers can think of.
- Discovery/History Channel
- Les Stroud of Survivorman does this, as he has a minimum amount of food with him.
- Ditto with Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild, though in this case it usually has more to do with ratings than necessity, since he doesn't bother to cook his finds even when he can.
- Of course, the premise of Man vs. Wild precludes stopping to cook food: Bear focuses on escaping the wilderness. Survivorman, on the other hand, focuses on surviving the wilderness, so Les has time to build a fire and cook any food he's found, as he tends to stay in one location longer than Bear. Les also tends to try and get fish or birds or fruit, in preference to creepy-crawlies.
- Alaska Experiment contestants survive and travel in Alaska. With little food, they make the most of and prey they hunt, usually having organ stew.
- Dual Survival a military survivalist and a survival minimalist show how to reach civilization when stranded somewhere. The minimalist finds local plants and bugs, which the military survivalist absolutely detests.
- Solitary uses this trope in a different way. Instead of eating disgusting food, the contestants eat normal food as a challenge. The catch is, they have to keep shoveling it down until it comes up.
- Hells Kitchen has made the losing team on various challenges (usually blind taste tests or identifying cuts of meat) forced to eat such offal as beef tongue, brains, intestines, etc. Expect a Vomit Chain Reaction to happen. Additionally, contestants that have cooked something poorly but refused to own up to it have sometimes been sent out into the dining room to eat their mistakes.
- The Joe Schmo Show had exactly one real contestant; all the others were actors. The real contestant had been promised before the show there would be no challenges of this type, and nearly walks off the show when they spring one on him.
Live Action TV (non-reality)
- During a discussion of this trope on The Ricky Gervais Show, producer Karl Pilkington commented that eating a kangaroo penis in the morning would be too difficult. His clarification, "I could eat a knob at night," became an internet meme, spawning dance remixes, t-shirts, public graffiti, and a story in the New York Times.
- Stargate Atlantis, Dr. Keller is offered a local (dead) bug to eat by Teyla. She initially refuses, commenting "This was my least favorite part of Survivor" and "Eating gross food, sorry, but that's where I draw the line". She eventually eats it.
- ...But only because they were trapped on an alien planet with no escape and no food.
- On Lost, Jin offers Hurley sea urchin, and is offended when Hurley refuses. Later, Hurley eats (and throws up) sea urchin in order to apologize.
- Parodied on Chappelle's Show, where crackhead Tyrone Biggums wins the reality-show challenge by scarfing down the ungulate penis after it grossed out all the other contestants. Meanwhile, Tyrone was just happy to have a meal, and even commented that it wasn't the first time he had done this (past skits featuring Tyrone state that he had... serviced men in exchange for crack).
- On Top Gear's American South special, the presenters were told to spend the night camping, and that dinner would be whatever they could find by the side of the road. Jeremy Clarkson (somehow) found and brought back an entire dead cow. James May promptly announced he'd decided to become a vegetarian.
- In a series of Calvin and Hobbes strips, Calvin offers to eat five worms in front of Susie for a quarter. His mother shows up, and drags him away; he complains, then, when they're out of hearing distance, thanks her.
- Much of the humor of "Chew" is built upon this trope.
- Invoked in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, where an angry Japanese chef who has had the misfortune of Cyborg, a Big Eater with a literal cast-iron stomach, try to take advantage of the "all you can eat" option, challenges him with the strangest, most nauseating dishes he can come up with, including an old shoe filled with wasabi.
- The children's book How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. Kid bets he can eat fifteen earthworms in fifteen days to win some cash; Hilarity Ensues.
- In the schlock-horror novel Creepers, an undercover cop has to eat a roasted rat in order to be accepted as one of them by some paranoid homeless drifters.
- Rodney Carrington relates to how him and his friends started playing card games where the loser would have to eat pet food, and eventually live insects. He maintains that there's no better form of entertainment than watching your buddies throw up.
- Breath of Fire 2 has a scenario where the local prince and his imposter are pit in a cooking contest to determine who the real prince is. Because one of the recipes the real prince makes uses an extra-rare and especially sumptuous ingredient, the royal chefs have a hard time maintaining the facade of supporting the imposter (to be fair, they were blackmailed into it). The princess throws a hissy fit amidst the stalemate and orders the party to eat it up. Oh, did I mention that everyone who wasn't in the party at the time is a frog? The pointman (or pointgirl) will be wishing for a paper bag soon enough.
- Steve, Don't Eat It!
- One episode of Eighties Dan revolved around Dan unearthing a McDonald's MCDLT he had buried in a time capsule 20 years ago, which had rotted away into an ugly green mush actually cream of mushroom dyed green save for the bun. What makes it hilarious is that no one is making Dan eat it at all; Dan simply refuses to accept that there's anything wrong with it, to the point that when he takes a bite, he actually tries going for another one before finally giving in to run off and puke it back up.
- Jackie Chan Adventures. The Chan team entered a Survivor-style contest and one of the tests was to eat a bowl full of bugs.
- Happens on Total Drama Island several times. As TDI is a satire/parody of reality shows, this is to be expected.
- An unusual version appears on TDI as well, in the second to last episode, as part of the Wheel of Misfortune. Viewer beware.
- Parodied on The Fairly Odd Parents, when Timmy goes up against a race of aliens called Yugopotamians. The aliens have polar opposite values and tastes of humans, and to get to speak to the king, Timmy must eat a piece of the foulest substance known to Yugopotamians: chocolate .
- During the tv-movie Win, Loose and Kaboom from Jimmy Neutron, this is one of the challenges on the game show they're on.
- The Last Emperor of China wrote in his autobiography that he once forced one of his eunuchs to eat a piece of dirt.
- Goldfish-swallowing as a fraternity initiation or dare is practically a trope of its own.
- ↑ It had died of natural causes that day and he asked the farmer if he could have it