List of American Gladiators events

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Throughout each version, the television series American Gladiators (and the subsequent 2008 version) has featured a total of 23 of events in which its contenders competed. In some events, both contenders from each gender compete simultaneously against two or more gladiators in a single event. Other events feature contenders facing-off one-on-one against a single gladiator. In The Eliminator, the final event of each episode, the contenders compete against each other directly, with minimal participation by the gladiators.

Points are awarded to contenders based upon their performance in each event. In the initial 1989 season, points were awarded in multiples of five, up to a 100-point maximum for each event. Beginning in the second season and continuing through the 2008 version, points are awarded to a general maximum of 10 points per event.

From 1989 to 1996, the number of events featured on each episode varied by season, with six events per episode in season one, seven events in seasons two and three, and eight events in seasons four and five. Season one of the 2008 version featured five events in preliminary rounds and six events in later rounds. Beginning on the third episode of season two, seven events were featured in the preliminary rounds and all subsequent rounds.

Assault[edit]

Years active: 1989–96, 2008

Play-by-play announcer Mike Adamle called Assault "the game of hit or be hit". The contender had 60 seconds to make it through a course that spanned the entire arena floor, firing off weapons to hit a target located near a Gladiator, while avoiding high-speed tennis balls fired at them by the Gladiator through an air cannon. The contender could complete the course by hitting the target with a weapon or by escaping the course, and lost if they were hit by the Gladiator's tennis balls or did not complete the course in 60 seconds. The weapons were in safe zones that offered some protection while aiming and firing the weapon, but the safe zones were such that the contender had to expose some part of their body while aiming and firing and thus could be hit. Although they changed in construction once during the run, from the second half of Season 1 until the end of the series the safezones were nothing more than normal barriers to hide behind; the first half of season one featured safezones that were supposed to emulate places you could fire weapons from (a pillbox, a burnt-out building, a thatch bush, and two barrels).

In the first half of season one, the contender had four weapons to fire. In order, they were an air powered rocket launcher, an air-powered ball cannon, a special effects pistol that fired a glitter shot, and two hand grenades filled with glitter that exploded on impact. The target was located to the Gladiator's side, and the contenders always started at the first safe zone with the rocket launcher in their hands ready to fire. If a contender fired all the weapons without hitting the target or being hit, he or she could take cover in the last safe zone until time expired and earn 30 points for a draw if he or she was not hit in the intervening time (Several contenders were hit by sharp-shooting Gladiators while taking cover in the third safe zone, which was hard to do considering the design of that safe zone was to make it as hard for the Gladiator to see a contender as possible.). Hitting the target's outer rim earned 60 points (later 75), and a bull's-eye hit earned 100. When hit, a hidden pyrotechnic charge exploded at the base of the Gladiator's platform, releasing a flurry of dirt and rocks, giving the appearance of a landmine exploding, plus some red/white strobelights.

For the second half of season one and continuing on, the course was redesigned to look more modern. A fifth safe zone was added at the beginning of the course with a crossbow, and (in season four only) the safe zones had numbers clearly visible on them. Also, the target was moved to above the Gladiator's head, a finish line was added at the end of the course with the contender having to cross it within the allotted time to earn credit for a draw, and instead of starting at the first safe zone with a weapon in hand, a player started with one foot on the steps leading into the arena, and was required to run to the first safe zone to fire a weapon.

Until the end of season two, earning the draw gave the contender four points. The target hit points were 7 for the outer rim, and 10 for the bull's eye. Here, due to the redesign, the "landmine" was redone with pyrotechnic reports (explosions) and a lot of smoke, somewhat of a precursor to a later smoke cannon. Said cannon was introduced in season two, and in place of the "landmine" the cannon itself went up in smoke after the target was hit.

Starting in season three, 10 points were awarded for hitting any portion of the target; if the contestant ran out of time or was hit, one point was given for each weapon the contender managed to fire and a bonus point was awarded for completing the course without getting hit (for a total of 6 points). As in the previous season and a half, all a contender had to do was cross the finish line at the end of the course to earn the draw; beginning in season 5 an actuator was placed at the end of the course and the player had to hit it without being hit by the Gladiator to get credit for the draw.

The starting position for the Assault course changed over the course of the series, changing the likelihood of contenders being hit before reaching the first safe zone. In the first half of season 1, a player would start at the first safe zone. From the second half of season 1 until season 7, a contender would start on the stair entrance furthest from the first safe zone (during the second half of season 1, this was changed to the closest steps in some episodes for unexplained reasons). In season 7, due to the changed look of the arena, the furthest staircase was moved near the center of the arena, giving the gladiator less time to hit a contender before they were able to reach the first safe zone). Similarly, in the 2008 version, the contender enters from the center of the arena, which is usually in the area of the Pyramid.

The safe zones were located on opposite ends of the floor such that the contender had to enter the Gladiator's unobstructed line of fire to get to each zone. The contender did have a very short wall for protection in traveling from the last safe zone to the finish line, as he or she was already very close to the Gladiator's cannon by this point.

In the 2008 version, small barriers were added between some stations that provided extra cover to the contenders.

In the first season of the 2008 version, contenders began the event with a ball in hand, which they carried to the first safe zone to load into a slingshot and fire. The second safe zone featured a cannon in a turret that contenders had to rotate, load, and fire. At the third safe zone, instead of having a weapon to fire, contenders dug through a sandbox for an arrow; finding the arrow earned a point. Contenders could then activate a smoke screen for protection in getting to the fourth safe zone, where they loaded the arrow into a crossbow, and fire. There was a fifth station, but no first-season contestant completed it.

For the second season of the version, all weapons except the slingshot are pre-loaded and the turret no longer has to be rotated into position. The third safe zone still features a sandbox but the arrow search was replaced with a Bazooka for the contender to fire. The fifth zone was revealed to have three balls that the contender would throw at the target, all three balls must be thrown for the contender to complete the safe zone.

In both seasons of the version, contenders earn 10 points for hitting any part of the target, or one point for each safe zone successfully completed. In addition, the gladiator is launched backwards into the water, and two massive pyrotechnic charges go off should the contender hit the target. In addition, the Gladiator could also be launched if the contender pressed the button located at the end of the course.

According to the commentary on the season 1 DVD set, most of the gladiators did not like Assault because it lacked direct contact with the contenders.

Assault Course configurations over the years:

Season Station 1 Station 2 Station 3 Station 4 Station 5 Draw Criteria Target Hit Result
Original Run
1a Rocket launcher Cannon Glitter pistol 2 or 3 Hand Grenades None Last 60 seconds without getting hit at final safe zone Gladiator is covered in dirt (males) or glitter (females)
1b Crossbow Rocket launcher Cannon Pistol 3 hand grenades Must cross finish line within time limit Pyrotechnics at foot of Gladiator platform
2 3 softballs A smoke cannon shoots the Gladiator and their cannon
3 and early 4 Pump gun Smoke cannon in front of Gladiator
Later 4 Ball rifle[1] Crossbow 2 softballs
5–7 Crossbow Arrow rifle Must hit buzzer at end of course within time limit Smoke cannon shoots Gladiator
2008 Version
1 Slingshot[2] Turret Cannon[3] Rocket search/Smokescreen[4] Rocket crossbow rifle[5] 3 balls, must be deployed with a button Press button at end of course within time limit Gladiator is launched into pool of water
2 Slingshot[6] Cannon (no longer rotates) Bazooka/smokescreen

Atlasphere[edit]

Years active: 1990–94, 2008

Atlasphere pitted the contenders against two Gladiators for 60 seconds, all rolling around the entire arena floor in metal cage-like spheres, dubbed "Atlaspheres". The object of the event was to avoid the Gladiators while trying to roll the sphere into one of four scoring pods spaced out across the arena floor. Originally, the contender had to settle in the scoring pods to score, with a score indicated by nitrogen "smoke" emitting from the center of the pod. This combined with the original shape of the scoring pods resulted in several contenders becoming stuck in a scoring pod, unable to get out. As a result, after its first season, the shape of the pods was changed and a black actuator was placed in the center of the pod surrounded by a ring of lights. All a contender needed to do was score was touch the actuator by rolling over it, which triggered the lights and caused the same smoke to be emitted from the center of the pod. In season four a sound effect was added to the game to indicate scores, triggered when a contender rolled over the actuator.

In season 2, contenders began on the floor at either end of the arena, while the Gladiators began the event inside one of the scoring pods. In seasons 3 and 4, contenders and Gladiators began the event in the four corners of the arena, contenders on one end, Gladiators on the other, on elevated ramps. In season 5, the contenders and Gladiators still started in the corners of the arena, but the ramps were no longer used.

1, 2, or 3 points were awarded for each score, depending on the season and round of play.

When the 2008 version was moved to the Los Angeles Sports Arena, the game was brought back, as one of the "new" games for the version's second season. It is currently being referred to as Altrasphere on the NBC website, but the event was referred to as "Atlasphere" on air, proving the NBC website to be in error.

Breakthrough & Conquer[edit]

Years active: 1989–96

Breakthrough & Conquer was a combination of American football and freestyle wrestling. The event was divided into two parts. The first (Breakthrough) consisted of the football part, where the contender had to try to score a touchdown on the Gladiator without getting tackled, losing the ball, or being forced out of bounds. After this came Conquer, in which the contender stepped inside a circular wrestling ring, with another Gladiator waiting. If the contender could wrestle any part of the Gladiator's body out of the ring within 10 seconds, they would win. During season 4 contenders had 15 seconds rather than 10 in the Conquer ring.

In the first half of season one, 30 (later 40) points were given for each successful part, and a contender earned bonus points if they were successful at both parts for a total of 100 points. From that point forward, 5 points were given for each successful portion of the event (although 3 were given during a point in season three).

In some of the first half of Season 1, the women did not play Breakthrough & Conquer in the preliminary round for reasons unexplained. They played a game called Swingshot, but only the results were given with no footage ever shown for unexplained reasons. It is likely that this Swingshot was not the same as the event that debuted in Season 3, as it was announced as a new event that season.

For one portion of the first half semifinals in Season 1 the Conquer ring was raised off the arena floor slightly with a blue mat surrounding it; the ring was lowered after Gladiator Sunny severely injured her knee after being pulled out of it and hitting the floor awkwardly.

In Season 2, Breakthrough & Conquer was only played during the quarterfinal round and final round in the first half of the season, replacing Human Cannonball, and during the quarterfinal round in the second half of the season, replacing the Joust.

Earthquake[edit]

Years active: 2008

An entirely new event in the 2008 version, the Contender and Gladiator wrestle for 30 seconds on a 12' diameter platform that is moving above the floor of the arena. Whoever throws their opponent completely off the platform and onto the crash pad below is the winner; a contender or Gladiator hanging on to the platform support cables or the edge of the platform is still considered to be on the platform. The Contender receives ten points for throwing the Gladiator off the platform within the 30 seconds, even if they come down in the process, or 5 points for not getting thrown off before time expires. A contender may also receive five points if (as which happened in the first series of the version) the Gladiator uses their foot illegally on the contender's head to push down the contender. This game is essentially an update of the Conquer portion of Breakthrough & Conquer from the original series. For Season 2, the Earthquake ring was moved over water.

Gauntlet[edit]

Years active: 1993–96, 2008

In this event, the contenders had to run through a half-pipe chute while avoiding five Gladiators, all holding blocking pads to impede the contender's progress. 25 seconds were given to start. If the contender made it out in time or without being forced out of the chute, they earned 5 points. If they made it out in under 20 seconds, 10 points were awarded.

In the final season of the original series, the event was played with four Gladiators, and the time limits were reduced to 15 seconds for 10 points, and 20 seconds for 5.

For the 2008 version, the game also underwent a British facelift, with a rule from the UK Series 7 and 8 adopted where the contender earned ten points for making it out in time (30 seconds), which includes crashing through the finish blocks. Should the contender fail to cross the finish block, they earn two points for completing each sector by passing a Gladiator. There are a total of four Gladiators in the Version. In season 2, the rules remained the same for the Prelims., but changed for the Semis. The Contender must clear the Gauntlet within the time limit to score (5 points under 30 seconds, 10 points under 20 seconds).

Hang Tough[edit]

Years active: 1990–96, 2008

Hang Tough was introduced in the alumni show that served as the second season premiere; however, the event was not added to the rotation until midway through that year and contenders who participated in the first half season tournament did not get to face it. (Hang Tough was featured in that season's Grand Championship, though.)

Hang Tough took place on a grid of gymnastic rings hung from the ceiling of the arena. A contender and a Gladiator started from platforms at opposite ends of the grid and used the rings to swing themselves forward toward their goal. The contender's was to reach the other platform within sixty seconds, with ten points awarded for doing so. Meanwhile, the Gladiator tried to intercept the contender and forcibly remove him/her from the rings. A contender could also lose by falling off the rings without any contact from the Gladiator.

Two standing rules were in place: the Gladiator could not hit the contestant above the shoulders or use their uniform to pull them off, or they would be disqualified. The contender and the Gladiator also had to make an effort to go forward and could not stay in one place for longer than 10 seconds unless in contact with each other or stuck on one ring, or else they would be disqualified.

As noted above, if a contender was able to reach and land on the Gladiator's platform, it was worth ten points. Lasting the full sixty seconds without being pulled off was a draw and scored five points. Disqualifications, which were noted in the same manner as delayed penalties in hockey, also scored five points.

A rule was added after the first few playings, where a few contenders were content not to swing out very far from their platform and avoid contact with the Gladiator. A blue set of rings was placed in the first several rows in front of the contenders' platform, and failure to advance past these rings was treated as a disqualification and awarded the contender no points. At the same time, a set of red rings were placed in front of the Gladiator's platform, and if a contender managed to advance to this area when time expired 7 points were awarded. This rule, however, was discarded following Hang Tough's first season. Furthermore, if a player would have made it to the opposite platform but was impeded by a cameraman (which happened in at least one situation), the official would award an automatic win on account of cameraman's interference.

The version uses similar rules, but losers splash into the water instead of a crash pad. The first season of the version featured a very short Hang Tough course, but the second season features a much longer course that is similar in length to the original run of the show.

Hit & Run[edit]

Years active: 2008

This version of the 1994–98 UK Gladiators game was added for the 2008 version.

Contenders traverse a 50-foot (15 m) suspension bridge hanging above a water tank. Four Gladiators (two on each side of the bridge) attempt to knock the contender off using four 100-pound demolition balls; contestants may duck to avoid getting hit, but cannot crawl along the bridge. Contenders earn 2 points each time they cross the bridge and hit a button on the platform railing, lighing a small column for 2 seconds, until the 60-second time limit expires or they are knocked off the bridge.

Human Cannonball[edit]

Years active: 1989–90 (through first half of season two), 1992–93

The object of this game was simple: swing on a rope from an elevated platform and try to knock a Gladiator off a pedestal some distance away. The Gladiator was given a blocking pad for protection.

Originally, three Gladiators played this event and contenders received three swings. For the first half of season one, each successful swing was worth 30 points and 10 bonus points were given if the contender managed to knock all three Gladiators off the pedestal. In the second half of season one, this was reduced to three points for each swing and one bonus point for knocking all three off. After that, two Gladiators competed in the event and contenders were given five points for each successful swing.

Originally, the contenders were allowed to swing with their legs fully extended and make contact with the Gladiator using their feet, almost a surefire technique for the contenders to be victorious. This resulted in the first injury to a Gladiator, as contender Brian Hutson kicked Malibu in the face and caused him to get stitches to repair a gash in his eyebrow. After the quarterfinal round of the first half of season one, contenders were required to stay in a tuck position throughout their swing, i.e., knees bent and feet tucked underneath their body. If the contender moved any part of their body out of the tuck position while swinging, the result of the swing would be disallowed. A rule unique to the first season prescribed a further punishment- if a contender was caught doing it again, they were automatically disqualified from the event and not permitted to take any remaining swings they may have had. This happened to second half finalist Elden Kidd, who was disqualified for throwing a forearm in one instance and kicking the Gladiator off in the second. (Both times it was Gladiator Titan; Dan Clark, who portrayed Gladiator Nitro at the time, later recalled the incident for YouTube in 2008. He said that following the half season Titan was fired from American Gladiators due to his charging of referee Bob McElwee after Kidd's second foul, where Titan was so infuriated he chased McElwee into the crowd; Clark said the incident never made air.[1])

Human Cannonball was replaced by Hang Tough in the rotation after the first half of season 2 and was not played at all in season 3. It returned for one more year in Season 4 before it was dropped for good in Season 5 for safety reasons.

Joust[edit]

Years active: 1989–96, 2008

The Joust saw the contender and Gladiator face off against each other with pugil sticks.

In the first half of season one, the event was conducted on a narrow bridge-type apparatus for 30 seconds. The object was to either knock the opponent off the platform or push them back towards a line on their side. Crossing that line would end the event, and in the case of the men's competition, would result in a trap door opening beneath them and dropping the loser to the floor (although the trap door often malfunctioned and wouldn't open). Neither player could drop their stick or take their hand off it, or they would be disqualified. Moreover, neither player could actively grab their opponent's stick, or they would also be disqualified.

The contender earned a minimum of 30 points for just participating in the event, with 75 being awarded for a draw and 100 for a win. Points could also be earned depending on how long the contender stayed on the platform (starting at 30, as noted, and increasing by 5 for every 5 seconds they managed to stay on).

This concept (except for the trap door and scoring) would later be used for the UK Gladiators' game "Suspension Bridge".

Afterwards, each player stood on a separate platform, with the object now only to knock the opponent off. 10 points were awarded for a victory, 5 points for a draw. The previous penalties for dropping one's own or grabbing the opponent's pugil stick remained in effect, and additional disqualification penalties were added for crossing onto the opponent's platform, or if the contender or Gladiator was determined not to have put up a fight. Beginning in Season two, a player who lost their helmet was disqualified.

Originally, there was no protection for the contenders' or Gladiators' hands while Jousting. During the second half of season three, contender Marek Wilczynski got one of his fingers jammed up against his opponent's stick and as a result, he lost the tip of that finger and was forced to leave the competition. From that point forward, both the contenders and Gladiators were required to wear protective gloves during the Joust.

For the 2008 version, the rules remained the same; however, the platforms are now located above the pool instead of a crash pad. Also, in the 2008 version, a gladiator was disqualified (and the contender automatically given the full ten points) when the gladiator put both knees on her own platform simultaneously.

The Maze[edit]

Years active: 1991–93

A giant maze was constructed across the entire length of the arena floor, and the contenders were given 45 seconds to negotiate their way through it. Inside were four Gladiators, armed with blocking pads to impede their path. To aid the contenders each Gladiator was restricted to a particular area in the maze and could not chase the contenders past it. In each playing of The Maze, there were only two correct paths to take, and with movable partitions inside the maze those two paths were different each time.

The first contender to escape earned 10 points, with the second earning 5.

Powerball[edit]

Years active: 1989–96, 2008

The game of Powerball has been one of the signature events of American Gladiators in both runs of the series.

The two contenders competed in a 45 second game against three Gladiators. Each contender had their own colored scoring balls which were in two separate bins, and had to try to place them into one of five scoring cylinders while avoiding the Gladiators. The rims of the scoring cylinders were sized such that the contenders generally had to slam dunk the ball into the cylinders to score; a ball thrown from a distance and getting into a scoring cylinder was a legal goal, but scoring in this manner was very difficult and thus rarely occurred. A contender was required to forfeit the ball in hand and pick up a new ball if, before scoring a goal, he or she was tackled to the floor or out of bounds by a Gladiator, or dropped the ball onto the floor.

In the first half of season one, the event was conducted on a half-circle shaped field, with two buckets (one for each player) in the center and the scoring cylinders on the edge of the half-circle. 15 points were awarded for each score in this format. From the second half of season one onward, the event was conducted on a larger, rectangular playing field with two ball buckets, each in a semicircular safe zone on either end of the field. Contenders were required to alternate which end of the field they took their scoring balls from. The scoring cylinders were spread out more, and one was placed in the center of the playing field, with goals scored there worth more points. This change was made for the game to more resemble football and because it allowed for more camera angles to be shown. For the remainder of season one, outer cylinder goals were worth one point and center cylinder goals were worth two. After that, the amount of points varied from 1-3 for outer cylinder goals and 2-5 for center cylinder goals, depending on the season and the round of play.

For the first season the scoring cylinders were basic stand-up cylinders; for the following seasons a design with a rounded bottom was used (perhaps to prevent the cylinders from falling down or breaking, the latter of which happened several times during season one when the weight of contender and Gladiator crashing onto it was enough to break the plastic the cylinder was made of).

One standing Powerball rule was that the Gladiators could not be excessively rough with the contenders (tackling them hard, hitting above the shoulders, etc.). Violators of this rule were immediately removed from the game, and the event would resume with the remaining Gladiators. In addition, a warning would be issued should the Gladiator move into one of the contender safe zones. During the second half of Season 1, all tackling was prohibited by Gladiators. Tackling was defined as wrapping up the contender and taking them down, pushing a contender down was legal. Initially, this was penalized by awarding a score to the contender, but later in the season, Gladiators were disqualified for tackling. This led to a round where two Gladiators were disqualified and only a single Gladiator was left to defend against both contenders. However, tackling was later legalized because it was seen that the game did not have enough contact and action without it. Gladiators could still be disqualified for excessively rough tackles.

A variant of this game, Super Powerball, was played in Season 4 only. Played only as the seventh game (Crunch Time), it featured three cylinders placed in a line in the middle of the Powerball field and two Gladiators. Three points were given for outer cylinder goals, and five for a center cylinder goal.

For the 2008 version, players were given 60 seconds against the Gladiators, with the 4 outer cylinders worth 2 points and the center cylinder worth 3 points. The rims of the scoring cylinders were also widened considerably, thus making it easier for contenders to throw the balls into the cylinders from a distance, and forcing the Gladiators to not only stop the contender, but also to prevent the contender from being able to shoot the ball into the goal (although the Gladiators are allowed to deflect such shots as well). The sidelines of the playing field were removed and replaced with a padded retaining wall, removing the Gladiators' "out of bounds" option and requiring them to either tackle the contenders to the floor or strip the ball from their hands. For the second season of the version, the rims of the scoring cylinders were downsized to prevent balls from being thrown in from a distance, and the points were reduced from 2/3 points to 1/2 points.

Pyramid[edit]

Years active: 1993–96, 2008

The contenders faced a pyramid made out of crash mats, and had to avoid two Gladiators in a race to get to the top and within 45 seconds. The premise was similar to The Wall, with the exception being that instead of chasing the contenders up the pyramid, the Gladiators tried to block the contenders from climbing up to the top of the pyramid. Once a contender reached the top, in order to score they were required to either ring a bell (early playings) or press an actuator button. When the actuator was integrated, a hit resulted in strobe lights going off for a few seconds. Each Gladiator had a contender they were assigned to defend against, instead of the two Gladiators chasing both players at one time and being freely able to switch contenders.

For the 2008 version, contenders are given 60 seconds to go up the Pyramid, with new rules similar to rules from the UK version from 1992–99 adopted.

  • A "scoring zone" was added four tiers down from the top, marked with a white dotted line. Contenders whose feet reach above the white line receive five points, regardless of whether or not they are subsequently knocked down below the scoring zone.
    • This is the same location as the UK Gladiators' "red step (safety zone)" which was added to the UK version of the Pyramid in 1997 following the career-ending injury to popular UK series Gladiator Diane "Jet" Youdale. In the UK version, Gladiators could not chase the contender above the "safety step". That rule was not implemented in the U.S. version because it gave a contender an unfair advantage.
  • Five more points are given for pressing the buzzer at the top of the pyramid. Points are no longer awarded for second place; the event is stopped if either contender should push the actuator at the top. Should this happen, flamethrowers go off behind the Pyramid.
  • The Pyramid is also used in the Eliminator, with the contenders forced to scale it to reach the zipline.

Rocketball[edit]

Years active: 2008

A new event for the second season of the 2008 version. Two Gladiators and Two Contenders begin the match at the corners of the arena. When each competitor presses a button, they are launched via their harnesses into the air toward two goals at the center of the arena. The contenders try to score by throwing balls into the hoops, while the Gladiators play defense. Goals in the lower basket are worth 1 point, while goals in the upper basket are worth 2. This event can be described as "Powerball" meets "Swingshot".

Sideswipe[edit]

Years active: 2008

A new event for Season 2, Sideswipe has both contenders hopping or running from platform to platform above the water as they try to take a colored ball from a container on one end of a line of five platforms and deposit it in a "bullseye" goal at the other end. While the contestants are transporting the balls, three Gladiators try to knock them off the platforms by swinging at them on rope swings - with the Gladiators themselves being the projectiles.[2] The event can be described as "'Hit and Run' meets 'Powerball' meets 'Human Cannonball'".

Sky Track[edit]

Years active: 1992–95, 2008

The contenders and a Gladiator raced each other on an inverted, Velcro-covered track. Using their hands and feet (each covered in Velcro to assist in moving), they would move down the track to the opposite end, hit an actuator button, then turn around and head back to the start/finish line.

Sky Track was designed so only one contender in the race was guaranteed points. Ten points were awarded to a contender who won the race and five to a contender who finished second, but the Gladiator's finish dictated how those points would be awarded. All a Gladiator had to do was finish first or second in the race to shut out one of the contenders. If the Gladiator won the race, the first contender to finish would receive five points, and if a contender beat the Gladiator, the other contender would finish third and receive no points.

The game was different from the British variant.

The second season of the 2008 version uses the UK rules of Skytrack (spelt Skytrak in the British version). The two contenders race around one lap of a figure-8 track while being chased by a Gladiator. If the Gladiator pulls a ripcord trailing behind the contender, that contender is released from the carriage connecting them to the track and eliminates them from the race. The first contender across without being caught receives 10 points plus some pyrotechnics, while the second receives 5.

Snapback[edit]

Years active: 1994–96

The contenders faced two Gladiators, with all attached to bungee cords. Red and blue scoring cylinders were hung from the ceiling of the arena, and the contender's object was to use the bungee cord to run to the cylinder, grab it, and bring it back and deposit it in a bin. The Gladiators tried to prevent this by either knocking the cylinders out of the contenders' hands or blocking them from reaching the cylinders. In addition, the cylinders were rather large in size, thus making them awkward to hold on to. The red cylinders were worth 2 (later 1) points, with the blue cylinders worth 3 (later 2), because they were hung higher and further away from the contenders and thus harder to grab.

The 2008 version of Snapback (Season 2) is unlike the event of the same name in the original American Gladiator series.[3] In this event, each contender is connected by a bungee cord to a Gladiator, who stands on a platform overlooking the end of a 50-foot (15 m)-long lane. On the sound of a whistle, the contenders race toward red buttons at the end of their lanes while the Gladiators resist by pulling back on their bungee lines. A contender earns 10 points by hitting the red button and launching the Gladiator across the arena with a large glitter bomb exploding behind a launched Gladiator. Markings for 2, 4, 6, and 8 point zones are on the floor near the red button: if the contender is unable to reach the button, they can earn lesser points by having any part of their body in these zones when the 30 second time limit expires.

Swingshot[edit]

Years active: 1991–96

The contenders faced three (later two) Gladiators in a 45 (later 60) second event. The object for the contender was to jump from a platform using a bungee cord, use their momentum to propel themselves from the floor to a cylinder with red, yellow, and blue colored scoring balls, grab one, then spring back to their platform and deposit them in a bin. The Gladiators were there to try to block the contenders from doing so.

1 point was awarded for each yellow ball grabbed, since they were the lowest level and easiest to grab. The blue balls were on the second level of the cylinder, and were worth 2-3 points. The red balls were highest on the cylinder and were worth 3-5 points. Contenders were required to jump off their platforms immediately once in the position to jump, and could not throw off a Gladiator's timing by "faking" a jump. If they did, any balls they scored on the ensuing jump would not count.

In the first half of season one, the name Swingshot was given to a game strictly played by the female contenders in the early rounds of play in place of Breakthrough and Conquer. Footage of the game was never shown, only how the contenders did. The game was eventually discarded in favor of having the women play Breakthrough and Conquer with the men, so there is no record other than the offhanded mentions of how the game was played.

Tilt[edit]

Years active: 2008

The 2008 version included the game under its British title, Tilt. Unlike in Tug-O-War, The platforms for Contender and Gladiator are no longer the same height, with the Gladiator's platform higher than the Contenders, further negating the Gladiator's natural size and strength advantage. Also, Contenders can earn a draw simply by remaining on the platform for the entire 30 seconds, they no longer have to have the majority of the rope on their side. Finally, the Contenders and Gladiators are attached to the rope by a harness, which removes the possibility of losing by letting go of the rope.

Tug-O-War[edit]

Years active: 1993–96

The contender faced a Gladiator in a two-man tug of war, conducted on tilting platforms. The contender started with their platform tilted back, while the Gladiator had to start tilted forward.

If the contender could pull the Gladiator off (or pull the rope out of the Gladiator's hands) in 30 seconds, they earned 10 points. Five points could be earned if the contender pulled more rope, with a flag, to their side when time expired.

Vertigo[edit]

Years active: 1993–96

One of three British games (along with the British Skytrack and Tilt) added for the second season of the 2008 version, Contender and Gladiator race across parallel courses of seven flexible poles. The game begins with both participants racing up a laddered pole. Upon reaching the summit, they must then sway their pole in the direction of the next, crossing onto it. The winner is the first to complete the course, grabbing the large hoop at the end which returns them to the ground. The Contender can earn 10 points by winning the race, or 5 by making it past the fifth pole before the Gladiator wins. When one of the two finish hoops are pulled, pyrotehnic sparks go off above both.

The Wall[edit]

Years active: 1990–96, 2008

A 32-foot (9.8 m) rock-climbing wall (extended to 40 feet (12 m) in the 2008 version, and 50 feet (15 m) when the version was moved to the Los Angeles Sports Arena) stood in front of the contenders in this event. The object was to make it to the top without being pulled off by a trailing Gladiator or before time expired. For the first half season of play, contenders were given two minutes to scale the wall. From season two onward, the time limit was one minute.

For the first four seasons of the original series and the entire 2008 series the contenders were allowed a head start on the Gladiators:

  • Season 1b-2: 15 seconds for men, 10 seconds for women
  • Season 3-4: 10 seconds (15 seconds for a brief period in season 4)
  • 2008 Version: 7 seconds

From season five until season seven, no head start was given. Instead the wall was divided into five partitions. One contender and the pursuing Gladiator started at the leftmost two partitions and the other contender and Gladiator started at the rightmost two. By doing this, the Gladiators' advantage for starting at the same time was negated because they were required to cross to the other partition. Conversely, although the contenders no longer had the advantage of being able to start ahead of the Gladiators, they now had the advantage of being able to cross to the center partition and force the Gladiators to cross an additional partition to get to them.

10 points were given for the first contender to ascend The Wall, with 5 given for the second place contender if both made it. During the first two seasons (and certain special episodes of season four as to determine seeding because of elimination rules), the higher climber was given 5 points if both were pulled off.

For the 2008 version, 5 points are awarded for reaching the top in second place or if a contender can survive the entire 60 seconds without being pulled off. Additionally, contenders pulled off the wall splash down into the pool instead of simply dangling from their safety harnesses. The wall was 40 feet (12 m) high in Season 1. Season 2 saw the wall heightened to 50 feet (15 m).

Whiplash[edit]

Years active: 1993–96

The contender and Gladiator both grasped a triangular shaped "dog bone" with one hand. A contender could win the event in two ways. The first was to steal the dog bone from the Gladiator, referred to as "owning the bone". The second way was to use the bone to drag the Gladiator off of the 20-foot (6.1 m) diameter circular platform the event was conducted on in 30 seconds. Neither contender nor Gladiator could place their second hand on the bone, and if they did so they were disqualified.

During seasons 5 and 6, the contender could only win 10 points by owning the bone, or dragging the Gladiator out of the circle. For the final season contenders could get 10 points for a win or could get 5 points if they could go the entire 30 seconds without getting disqualified or the Gladiator "owning the bone".

The Eliminator[edit]

The Eliminator served as each episode's final event and was the only event where the contenders faced off directly with each other instead of against the Gladiators. The Gladiators would still participate but as the years went on they were involved less and less.

The Eliminator was an obstacle course laid out over the entire arena floor. The obstacles used varied from year to year.

1989–91[edit]

For the first two seasons the Eliminator was conducted with a time limit and was scored. Both contenders started the course at the same time. Entering the event the deficit between the two contenders was divided by two (five in the first scoring format), and the result was the amount of seconds the trailing contender had to beat the leader by in order to win (whereas all the leader had to do was finish first in order to win).

The first season Eliminator had to be completed within sixty seconds. For the second season the female contenders were given fifteen additional seconds. For each second remaining on the clock, points were awarded; the first half of season one was worth five points per second while the remainder of the season and all of season two saw two points awarded for each second. Contenders were also penalized for falling from obstacles or failing to complete them, with a five-second penalty, along with the corresponding points (25 in the first half of season one, 10 thereafter), counted against their final score for the event

The series dealt with injuries to contenders on a case by case basis. If a contender was injured in the event before the Eliminator in preliminary rounds and unable to continue, the other contender would run unopposed for scoring and seeding purposes. If such a situation occurred in later rounds the other contender simply won the match by default and advanced further.

The first season's Eliminator featured the following obstacles.

  • Contenders started by rolling giant balls up a ramp and into one of two receptacles at the top.
  • Two pits then had to be navigated. The first was crossed by walking across a balance beam, with six of the Gladiators swinging medicine balls in an attempt to either impede or knock off the contenders. The second used a pair of ropes called "commando lines" and the contenders had to walk across them without slipping off.
    • In the second half of season one, both pits were lengthened considerably. Also, in order to aid taller contenders the top rope of the commando lines was raised.
  • Once across the commando lines the contenders used a rope to swing over a small wall, referred to as the "swing for life".
  • Contenders then came back to the arena floor and had to run around a set of cylindrical "cones" which were placed in front of four corridors with paper barriers in front.
  • Once at the barriers the contenders had to decide which of the two barriers in front of them to break through. Originally each contender would have one barrier that was unguarded, enabling a free run to the finish, and one with a Gladiator holding a blocking pad. In the second half of season one this changed to having three of the barriers concealing Gladiators and only one open. The barriers were also narrowed somewhat.

For season two the Eliminator saw an overhaul with new obstacles. These were the changes made:

  • The ramp now had two reverse treadmill belts built into it that the contenders had to scale. Each contender was given three attempts to do so, and after that they were permitted to run up the side of the ramp to continue.
  • Crossing the first pit was now done by using a handbike.
  • The balance beam was moved to become the third obstacle, and instead of six Gladiators swinging medicine balls two were standing at the end of each beam throwing a weighted blocking pad.
  • Two more obstacles were added in place of the Swing for Life: a 20-foot (6.1 m) cargo net climb to a platform, then a ride down a zip line back to the arena floor.
  • The final barrier choice remained unchanged except for instead of negotiating cones contenders now had to jump over track hurdles.
  • The finish line was also switched. Previously, the finish line was in the front of the arena near the starting line. The addition of the two extra obstacles necessitated a move to the opposite end of the arena.

1991–93[edit]

Beginning with the first episode of the third season and continuing for the remainder of the series, the Eliminator was no longer scored. Instead the leading contender was given a head start of half a second for each point he/she led by entering the event and the opposing contender had to make up the deficit. Whoever finished the course first won the match.

With the third season came some changes, many of which remained in place for season four. The layout of both courses, with corresponding changes, follows:

  • Falling off the handbike resulted in contenders being detained by Gladiators for several seconds. The women were held for ten seconds, the men seven.
  • The balance beam was removed and replaced by a spinning cylinders. Falling off the apparatus forced contenders to use an unsteady rope ladder to climb back up.
  • After the zip line, a wall with ropes to aid in climbing it was used replacing the barriers from the previous two seasons.
    • In season three, this wall was padded and had a step at the bottom for more assistance. Once over it two Gladiators with giant medicine balls formed a gauntlet the contenders had to negotiate. They then climbed over a hurdle and ran down to another while two more Gladiators on a platform overhead threw more giant medicine balls at them. Once over the hurdle contenders ran to the finish line. Although there was a tape to break the actual finish line was below it and any part of the contender's body that crossed it was counted, meaning that a contender did not necessarily need to break the tape to win.
      • Partway through the season the gauntlet was taken out and a second wall was added.
    • For season four the padded wall was replaced with a plexiglas wall and the gauntlet was returned. This time it consisted of blocking pads that swung back and forth as two Gladiators operated it. Contenders also had a longer run to the finish line from the last hurdle.

1993–96[edit]

In keeping with the aesthetic overhaul AG went through at the start of its fifth season, the Eliminator too was given a makeover inspired by the British Gladiators course in use at the time. The course that debuted in September 1993 was used for the remainder of the show's run, with one notable exception.

  • Contenders began by scaling a tower using a Versaclimber fitness machine. Once at the top of the tower they used a slide to get to the handbike.
  • The next four obstacles remained the same until 1995, when the spinning cylinder was removed. In its place two pits were added, both filled with plastic balls. Contenders had to wade through these and climb out to reach the cargo net.
  • Once over the wall the contenders faced the treadmill, which was moved and slowed down slightly. Contenders were initially given two attempts to scale it, but beginning in season six this changed to a sixty-second time limit.
  • A rope swing through a paper barrier served as the course's finish, and the first contender to break through won.

Starting with the first run in September 1993, there were no more Gladiators operating any obstacles on the course. In seasons 5 and 6, there were still two Gladiators and a Game Judge in the penalty pit who were there to "enforce" the time penalty for contestants who fell off the hand bike.

International tournaments[edit]

For both International Gladiators tournaments (1994 and 1996), which were held in the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England where the British series taped, the Eliminator consisted of these obstacles.

  • Contenders started by negotiating a set of six hurdles, with three high and three low. They had to climb over the high hurdles and roll under the low ones.
  • In order to get to the platform in front of the pit, a climbing rope was used.
  • Both sets of contenders crossed the pit in a different manner. The men used the hand bike, while the women used a monkey bar-style apparatus called a hand ladder.
  • Once across the pit the next three obstacles were the same as the American series: a run across the spinning cylinders, a climb up the cargo net, and a zipline ride to the floor.
  • Once off the zipline each contender had to negotiate a balance beam.
  • The treadmill followed, but keeping with British custom it was referred to as the Travelator.
  • Once atop the Travelator a rope swing through a paper barrier was the finish.

This was the exact same Eliminator course that the UK version of Gladiators was using at the time.

2008 Version[edit]

The 2008 series used the same scoring rules that were in place from 1991 onward on the original series.

For the 2008 version, the layout was as follows.

Season 1[edit]

  • The course began with contenders climbing an 8-foot (2.4 m) wall. A rope was available for assistance.
  • Once over the wall the contenders jumped into a 20-foot (6.1 m) long pool and had to swim underneath a wall of fire on top of the water.
  • After the contenders emerged from the pool they climbed a 30-foot (9.1 m) cargo net to get to the next obstacle.
  • Borrowing an example from the Japanese Sasuke series, the next objective for the contenders was to grab into and hold a cylinder, then roll with it down an incline. This was referred to as the "Barrel Roll".
  • The handbike followed with no specific penalty enforced for falling.
  • After the handbike contenders negotiated a downhill balance beam.
  • Instead of climbing an additional cargo net to reach the zipline, the series employed the Pyramid used in the event of the same name in the Eliminator.
  • The treadmill followed, adopting the name Travelator as the UK series did.
    • The treadmill belt was much narrower than in the original series. A rope was placed at the halfway point to aid the contenders.
    • There is no "free pass" permitted if contenders cannot ascend the treadmill, unlike the original series. In the spirit of sportsmanship, if a winner has been determined, the second contestant may have the treadmill stopped if that contestant is unable to successfully cross the treadmill.
  • The finish saw the contenders climb up a set of stairs and break through a wall made of foam cubes.

Season 2[edit]

For season two, these changes were made.

  • The event began in the pool as the wall was taken out. The length of the swim doubled as well.
  • The Barrel Roll was replaced by a rope swing.
  • The commando lines last seen in season one returned and were referred to as the Tightrope. The major difference was that instead of a straight line walk, the ropes were slanted downward.
  • Two 6-foot (1.8 m) deep ball pits were placed below the handbike, and contenders had to wade through them if they fell.
  • The downhill balance beam was replaced with a spinning cylinder, which was called the "Rolling Pin".
  • A seesaw-style balance beam called the Teeter Totter was placed in front of the Travelator.
  • The crash blocks were removed from the top of the steps and the rope swing and barriers made a return. The players landed in the pool and a pyrotechnic display was played for the first contender to finish.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://youtube.com/americangladiators; "The Dirtiest Contender".
  2. ^ Sideswipe page on NBC.com
  3. ^ Snapback - from nbc.com