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The Biggest Loser (2004-) is a Reality TV show on NBC where a number of overweight individuals compete to lose the greatest amount of weight while living at a special ranch. The contestants are divided into two (or more) teams, each of which works out with a specific trainer, while facing temptations and reward challenges. At the end of each week, each contestant is weighed, and the participants vote out one of the two contestants who lost the least percentage of their body weight during the week. The final remaining contestant wins $250,000. A second prize of $100,000 is awarded to the contestant who loses the most weight after being eliminated as a motivation to continue to lose weight after elimination.
The show is currently hosted by Alison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives (formerly, Caroline Rhea of Sabrina the Teenage Witch). Bob Harper has been a trainer since the first season. Jillian Michaels was a trainer for 7 seasons, but left the show after season 11 finished. Two new trainers, Cara Castronova and Brett Hoebel, were introduced in season 11, but were not brought back for season 12. Pro tennis player Anna Kournikova and personal trainer Dolvett Quince were the new trainers for season 12, with Anna leaving at the end of the season, leaving Bob and Dolvett as the trainers for season 13.
As of January 2012, twelve full seasons and two specials have aired in the United States, with the 13th season near completion, as well as 22 seasons in 11 other countries.
Tropes present in this series include:
- Abusive Parents: Season 10 contestant Ada has been the black sheep of her family pretty much her entire life, dating back to a brother's death when she was a toddler. Not only was she emotionally abused by her parents, her family did not make any contact with her while she was on the ranch. Jessica from the same season suffered abuse from her mother, as well. However, both Ada and Jessica reconcile with their parents by the end of the season.
- When Ada's mother was interviewed at the end of Season 10, what was subtitled was very different from what she actually said. While the subtitles made it seem like she was proud of her daughter, she was actually mocking how fat Ada was.
- Doubles as Asian Rudeness
- Ad Break Double Take: Repeatedly during weigh-in and elimination.
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Jillian
- Bare Your Midriff:
- Standard procedure for the female contestants in the first half or so of each season is to have them in sports bras for the weigh-ins.
- Jillian does this for just about anything that's related to the show in terms of advertising or products (not to mention her own products) but almost completely averts this on the show itself.
- Captain Obvious: Allison, after every weigh-in, summarizes what just happened.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The reaction during week 14's weigh in from all four trainers and several contestants in season 11, when Courtney lost 1 pound, 2 pounds short of what was needed to keep herself on the ranch, therefore automatically eliminating not only her, but her trainer Brett, from the competition. The censorship bleeps were heard for about 30 seconds after the final number popped up on the scale.
- Commercial Break Cliffhanger: It would not be an NBC reality show without it.
- Confession Cam
- Drill Sergeant Nasty:
- Jillian Michaels' default training technique.
- Bob Harper uses this as well, but not quite as much and with a little less venom.
- From the Australian version, Commando's technique as well.
- Eliminated From the Race
- Elimination Statement
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Commando in the Australian version. While his real name (Steve Willis) is openly known, he's nearly always called Commando on-screen.
- False Friend: The nature of the game tends to see a lot of contestants become this.
- Fat Camp: A rare Real Life adult example.
- Food Porn: Both in attempts to tempt the contestants, and when celebrity chefs give them cooking lessons.
- Genre Savvy: Subverted season after season when the contestants who claim to have watched several seasons before coming on the show completely freak out during the initial workouts.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Non-fatal variety: Some contestants, when a team must vote to eliminate someone, will ask to be voted off so that weaker or less healthy players can go on. Patrick in season 12 is a prime example.
- Hilarious Outtakes: In the 2011 Thanksgiving special, they showed a whole lot of these.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Jillian. Yes, really.
- Commando, in the Australian version.
- Kick the Dog: Bob and Jillian will occasionally use variants of this on contestants who spectacularly fail to meet expectations.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: How the trainers see it, as they're trying to break down and excise the habits that lead to such spectacular failures.
- Large Ham: The trainers are rarely subtle or quiet. Of course this is done on purpose to get the contestants angry and energized to keep their adrenaline and energy up so they can finish the full workout.
- Licensed Game:
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: In a rare Reality Show example, The Commando from the Australian version. Justified by the fact he is actually an ex-SAS drill instructor, so the persona was pre-existing.
- Ms. Fanservice: Believe it or not, Allison. You'd expect this of Jillian, but her attire on the show isn't nearly as skimpy as what she wears in the show's peripherals (see Bare Your Midriff above).
- Pet the Dog: While the trainers ride the contestants hard during workouts, they have a good sense of when a contestant is about to hit an emotional wall and crack, and will take time to talk with contestants and work them through these moments.
- Precision F-Strike: You can count on at least a handful of these every season, mainly from Jillian.
- Product Placement: Like whoa.
- Rage Quit: Seems to have happened on Season 13, due to a twist with eliminated players returning.
- Sad Clown: It's pretty much a guarantee that male contestants who have boisterous, jokey personalities are hiding major self-esteem issues caused by their weight.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money / Executive Meddling: As of late the show has been the recipient of some severe backlash thanks to the network's obsession with breaking records (fattest contestant, most weight loss, etc.) without much concern for the health of their contestants. Critics have argued that proper weight loss takes time rather than be a race to the finish line.
- They Clean Up Nicely: The producers are pretty good at choosing contestants who are "cute for a fat guy/girl" at the start, and then very attractive or just plain smokin' hot once they achieve a healthy weight.
- Viewers are Morons: Some viewers don't realize that the speed of weight loss seen on the show is the result of the controlled environment provided by a small army of doctors, personal trainers, and other assorted health experts as they guide the contestants through several hours a day of intense exercise. When these viewers, who are holding down full-time jobs and dealing with everyday life instead of exercising 50 hours a week, manage to lose "only" 3 pounds in a week instead of 13, they wonder what went wrong.
- One challenge in Season 12 addressed this by only giving the teams short windows in which to use the gym, simulating the time constraints faced by most people.