Forged in Fire (TV series)
|Forged in Fire|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||86|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Outpost Entertainment|
|Original release||June 22, 2015– present|
Forged in Fire is an American competition series that airs on the History channel, and is produced by Outpost Entertainment, a Leftfield Entertainment company. In each episode, four bladesmiths compete in a three-round elimination contest to forge bladed weapons, with the overall winner receiving $10,000 and the day's championship title. The series is hosted by Wil Willis, with a three-judge panel consisting of J. Neilson (Jason Knight during portions of season 3 and 4; Ben Abbott during portions of season 4), David Baker, and Doug Marcaida, experts in weapon history and use. History ordered an initial eight episodes of the series  with the first program premiering on Monday, June 22, 2015, at 10pm ET. Season two premiered on February 16, 2016 and increased to 10 episodes. The third season premiered with a "champion of champions" match on August 23, 2016, and was announced as having 16 episodes. The fourth season premiered on April 11, 2017, with a "Judges' Pick" episode in which the four judges (Neilson, Knight, Baker, Marcaida) each selected one smith from past seasons to compete again. The fifth season premiered on March 7, 2018.
On April 17, 2018, a spin-off series titled Forged in Fire: Knife or Death premiered on History. This series is hosted by Bill Goldberg and co-hosted by Tu Lam, a martial arts expert and retired member of the Green Berets.
The series is filmed in Brooklyn, New York. The set, referred to as "The Forge," is stocked with a wide range of metalworking equipment, including propane forges, coal forges, grinders, power hammers and hydraulic presses. Medical personnel are present to treat any injuries or other health problems and may, at their discretion, disqualify smiths who are unable to continue safely. At the end of each round, the smith whose weapon is judged to be the least satisfactory must surrender it and leave the competition.
In the first round, the four smiths are presented with a starting material that they must use to forge a blade. In some episodes, they all begin with the same material; in others, they may choose from an assortment of metal objects or must salvage their material from a source such as a junked car or lawnmower. Willis states one set of criteria concerning blade or blade/tang length, and often a second set for a feature that must be incorporated, such as serrations or a fuller groove; not all competitions require a special feature. The smiths are typically given 10 minutes to sketch out their designs, but this time is occasionally extended or omitted altogether. Following the design period, they are given a set length of time to forge their blades; they are not required to adhere to their original designs. Once time expires, the judges evaluate the blades based on Willis' criteria and inspect their workmanship, quality, and design, then deliberate privately before announcing their decision. Any smiths who fail to meet the criteria, or who fail to turn in a blade at all, are subject to immediate elimination.
For the second round, the three remaining smiths are given an additional length of time to turn their blades into fully operational weapons. They must attach a handle, choosing from a range of provided materials and incorporating any special feature stated by Willis, and grind, sharpen, and polish the blades. They may also address any flaws or issues pointed out by the judges in the first round, if they choose to do so. After the time expires, the judges put each weapon through a series of tests to gauge properties such as sharpness, durability, and ease of use. For these tests, the weapons are used to chop/slash/stab objects that include ropes, ice blocks, animal carcasses, and steel car doors. If a weapon suffers catastrophic failure, defined as damage that renders it unsafe or ineffective for further testing, its maker is immediately disqualified. The judges may, at their discretion, choose not to subject a weapon to a particular test if it is sufficiently cracked or flawed.
The working time in each of the first two rounds is typically three hours, but may be extended to four hours if an added feature poses a sufficient challenge, such as being required to forge a billet with modern damascus steel methods and use it for the blade.
In the third round, the two remaining smiths are shown a historically significant (and technically difficult) weapon and are given five days to create a version of it. They return to their home forges to do the work and comply with any specifications set by Willis. Afterwards, they return to the Forge and submit their weapons for testing against objects and environments similar to the historical scenarios in which they were typically used. Based on the test results, the judges select one smith to receive the $10,000 prize.
The "Master & Apprentice" episode in Season 4 featured four master/apprentice pairs of smiths. Only one member of each pair was allowed to work at any time, trading off every 30 minutes in the first two rounds, and every day in the third. The non-working member was allowed to offer advice. For this episode, the forging time in the first round was extended to three and a half hours.
The "Ultimate Champions Edition" (season 4) and "Rookies Edition" (season 5) each featured five smiths instead of four. The smiths were required to forge a particular type of blade at their homes and bring those weapons to the studio for a preliminary test. One smith was eliminated based on the results of this test, after which the competition proceeded through the normal three rounds.
Cast, judges, and producers
Wil Willis is a former Army Ranger and decorated Air Force para-rescue specialist. Willis' previous television experience includes Special Ops Mission and Triggers, two series that aired on the former Military Channel.
J. Neilson, a knife and sword expert, holds the rank of Master Smith within the American Bladesmith Society. He has over 20 years' experience in making knives and edged weapons. He examines the weapons' technical qualities and tests their durability. In Season 3, Neilson took a leave of absence in order to have surgery on his hand; Jason Knight, another ABS Master Smith, filled his seat on the judges' panel during that time. Neilson appeared alongside Knight for the Season 4 premiere, then resumed his seat in the eighth episode. Starting with the 21st episode of the fourth season, two-time Forged in Fire champion Ben Abbott would replace him in some episodes.
David Baker, a Hollywood prop maker who has appeared on the Spike series Deadliest Warrior, is an authority on weapons history and an expert on replicating period-accurate weapons for both museums and films. He judges the weapons' historical accuracy and aesthetic beauty.
Doug Marcaida, an edged-weapons specialist, is a U.S. military contractor, martial arts instructor and knife designer for FOX Knives Italy. Specializing in the Southeast Asian fighting style of Kali, he has taught classes in weapon awareness and use for military, law enforcement, and security organizations. Marcaida evaluates the smiths' weapons to determine their effectiveness in combat. When he cannot test the smiths' weapons himself due to injury, he has a co-worker or family member perform this task in his place.
Tim Healy and Steve Ascher are executive producers for History. Jodi Flynn, Brent Montgomery, David George, Shawn Witt and Simon Thomas are executive producers for Outpost Entertainment. Healy observed the demonstration, and later the filming, from the sidelines. Healy says that the inspiration for Forged in Fire came from his and other developers' love of food competition shows such as Chopped and Iron Chef. However, in order to appeal to the History channel's audience, they decided to have the competition focus on historical weaponry.
Season 1 (2015)
|1st place||2nd place||3rd place||4th place|
|1||Jun 22, 2015||"Japanese Katana"||Matthew Parkinson||Rich Greenwood||Billy Helton||Joe Waites|
|2||Jun 29, 2015||"Chakram"||Chris Farrell||Trenton Tye||Grant Marcoux||Chad Harding|
|3||Jul 3, 2015||"Viking Battle Axe"||Ryu Lim||Jonathan Porter||Phil Evans||James Huse|
|4||Jul 13, 2015||"Katar"||David Goldberg||Jaime L. Vining||Jimmy Seymour||Arnon Andrey Kartmazov|
|5||Jul 20, 2015||"Crusader Sword"||Peter Swarz-Burt||David Roeder||Matt Venier||Gabriel Bell|
|6||Jul 27, 2015||"The Elizabethan Rapier"||Guy Harris||Peter Martin||Peter Szymanski||JD Smith|
|7||Aug 3, 2015||"The Roman Gladius"||Jamie Lundell||Mareko Maumasi||Maxon McCarter||Adam Ison|
|8||Aug 10, 2015||"The Moro Kris"||Mace Vitale||Murray Carter||Ray Kirk||Jason Morrissey|
Season 2 (2016)
|1st place||2nd place||3rd place||4th place|
|1||Feb 16, 2016||"The War Hammer"||Craig Camerer||Jeff Bridgers||Kim Stahl||Harry Harkins|
|2||Feb 20, 2016||"Khopesh"||Salem Straub||Craig Trnka||Chris Marks||Zack Jonas|
|3||Mar 1, 2016||"The Scottish Claymore"||Scott Thomas||Jonathan Wick||Erin Simmons||Earl Blackmore|
|4||Mar 8, 2016||"Spiked Shield"||Ilya Alekseyev||Michael Coffey||Tim Hintsala||John Gruber|
|5||Mar 15, 2016||"Viking Sword"||Travis Wuertz||Morgan Medlen||Tom Ward||Mardi Meshejian|
|6||Mar 22, 2016||"Nepalese Kukri"||Jason Reddick||Josh Weston||Kelly Potter||Jason Ritchie|
|7||Mar 29, 2016||"The Shotel"||Burt Foster||Chad Osborne||Kevin Klein||Erin Aylor|
|8||Apr 5, 2016||"The Cutlass"||Tobin Nieto||Ron Mezile||Bob Brandel||Kyle Gahagan|
|9||Apr 12, 2016||"The Khanda"||Ben Abbott||Tom McGinnis||Brent Stubblefield||Nathan Zimmerman|
|10||Apr 19, 2016||"The Tabar"||Ted Thompson||Rob "Deker" Dekelbaum||Robert Burns||Edward Kim|
Season 3 (2016–17)
|1st place||2nd place||3rd place||4th place|
|1||Aug 23, 2016||Champions Edition[note 1] – "Scottish Claymore"||Ben Abbott||Matthew Parkinson||Salem Straub||Burt Foster|
|2||Aug 20, 2016||Fan Favorites[note 2] – "Hook Sword"||David Roeder||Rich Greenwood||Kelly Potter||Ryu Lim|
|3||Sep 6, 2016||"Butterfly Swords"||Shayne Carter||Andy Alm||Harry Burdett||Michael Allenson (né Hoopes)|
|4||Sep 13, 2016||"The Falcata"||Kelly Vermeer-Vella||Justin Jones||Will Bagley||Frank Christensen|
|5||Sep 20, 2016||"Kora Sword"||Liam Hoffman||Josh Smith||Paul Happy||Robby Bowman|
|6||Sep 27, 2016||"Hunga Munga"||Jared Williams||Eric Anthony Leong||Ryan Lewis||Harlan Whitman|
|7||Oct 4, 2016||"The Boar Spear"||Allen Newberry||Clayton Cowart||Mike Shindel||Chase Wilder|
|8||Oct 11, 2016||"Xiphos Sword"||Keith Hill||Jon Maynard||Sam Rutherford||Riley Butz|
|9||Oct 18, 2016||"The Pandat"||Pete Winkler||Jo Smith||Brandon Brink||April Franklin|
|10||Oct 25, 2016||"Zulu Iklwa"||Matthew Moline||Lyle Wynn||Scott Mcreynolds||Clarence Jackson|
|11||Jan 10, 2017||Champions Edition[note 1] – "The Pata"||Travis Wuertz||Shayne Carter||Peter Swarz-Burt||Scott Thomas|
|12||Jan 17, 2017||"The Zweihänder"||Jay Replogle||Stephan Fowler||Harry Black||Emiliano Carrillo|
|13||Jan 24, 2017||"Cavalry Saber"||David Mooneyham||Todd Bitler||Jason Glenn Howell||Nic Hanlon|
|14||Jan 31, 2017||"The Naginata"||Theo Nazz||Joe Collett||Walter Sorrells||Erich Ouellette|
|15||Feb 7, 2017||"The Haladie"||Raymond Smith||Stephen Williamson||Jason Kraus||Adlai Stein|
|16||Feb 14, 2017||Redemption[note 3] – "Viking sword"||Gabriel Bell||Clarence Jackson||JD Smith||Brandon Brink|
Season 4 (2017)
|1st place||2nd place||3rd place||4th place|
|1||Apr 11, 2017||Judges' Pick[note 4] – "The Ida"||Mareko Maumasi||Josh Smith||David Goldberg||Erin Simmons|
|2||Apr 11, 2017||"Deer Horn Knives"||Nicholas Marcelja||Steve Godfrey||Dustin Rhodes||Thor Laizans|
|3||Apr 18, 2017||"The Katzbalger"||James Helm||Paul Walsh||Rashelle Hams||Jesse Hauer (medically disqualified)|
|4||Apr 25, 2017||"Makraka"||Craig Barr||Paul Brown||Brian Dimmock||Mark Nevling|
|5||May 2, 2017||Fan's Choice[note 2] – "The Panabas"||Josh Weston||Ray Kirk||Robby Bowman||Chad Osborne|
|6||May 9, 2017||"Akrafena"||Page Steinhardt||Brock Martin||Larry Clements||Terry Mitchell|
|7||May 16, 2017||"Talwar"||Jordan LaMothe||David McConnell||Rick Fenlon||Carl Oliver|
|8||May 23, 2017||"The Cinquedea"||Neil Kamimura||Dan Hurtado||Storm Richardson||Demetrios Papatriantafyllou|
|9||Jun 6, 2017||"The Charay"||Steve Grosvenor||Ryan Rowe||Mark Green||Tyler Mandgie|
|10||Jun 13, 2017||Redemption[note 3] – "Sword Breaker"||James Huse||Erich Ouellette||Earl Blackmore||Morgan Medlen|
|11||Jul 11, 2017||Master & Apprentice[note 5] – "Nzappa zap"||Frank Allen Wren II
|12||Jul 18, 2017||"Ngombe Ngulu"||Steven Bryan||Paul Brach||Robert Putantsu||Ryan Weeks|
|13||Jul 25, 2017||"The Shamshir"||Andrew Taycach||Tim Shoal||Tom Kinder||Chad Hollar|
|14||Aug 1, 2017||"The Kachin Dao"||Shawn Ellis||Rachel Oliver||Buster Grubbs||Chad Bozeman (medically disqualified)|
|15||Aug 8, 2017||"The Gladiator Scissor"||Don Halter||Jason Henderson||Alf Rudd||Francesco Muci|
|16||Aug 22, 2017||"The Kampilan"||Michael Cross||Todd Martin||Jack Barber||Leland Edward Stone|
|17||Aug 29, 2017||"The Kpinga"||Nate Summers||Richard Epting||Jim Poor||John Rainey|
|18||Sep 12, 2017||"The Yatagan"||Gabe Mabry||Dave Catoe||Josh Fikentscher||Randall W Turner|
|19||Oct 3, 2017||International Championship – "The Spadroon"||JW Randall||Julien Maniglier||Guillermo Mendoza||Michal Sielicki|
|20||Oct 10, 2017||"The Tabar-Shishpar"||Mark Steele Knapp||Christopher Price||Holden Bystry||Dan Rotblatt|
|21||Oct 17, 2017||Ultimate Champions Edition[note 6] – "The T'ai Chi Sword"||Theo Nazz||Neil Kamimura||Kelly Vermeer-Vella||Nicholas Marcelja (Round 1)|
Raymond Smith (preliminary)
|22||Oct 24, 2017||Knights Templar – "Crusader Sword"||David Mirabile||Brian Rognholt||Josh Fenlon||Richard Moore|
|23||Oct 31, 2017||Viking Edition – "Viking War Axes"||Jeremiah Backhaus||Chris Rowley||Jeff Renner||Joel Davis|
Season 5 (2018–present)
|1st place||2nd place||3rd place||4th place|
|1||Mar 7, 2018||"The Rhomphaia"||Bill Sowell||Dwight Phillips||Mark Collard||Steve Culver|
|2||Mar 13, 2018||Rookies Edition[note 7]
"The War Golok"
|Brian Schmidt||Matt Wagner||Tyler Grant||Joey Lynn (Round 1)|
Steve Johnson (preliminary)
|3||Mar 20, 2018||"The Schiavona"||Jeff Wagenaar||Brad McDougall||Brendan McHugh||Wes Whipple|
|4||Mar 27, 2018||"The Sica"||Tony Fetters||Frank Sausto||Corey Soper||Gage Mason|
|5||Apr 3, 2018||"The Jumonji yari"||Jacob Gayton||Fuad Accawi||Gary Sandstrom||Kyle Kilroy|
|6||Apr 10, 2018||"The Kabyle Flyssa"||Collin Sage||Daniel Casey||Bob Hastings||Jesse Adcock|
|7||Apr 17, 2018||Ultimate Team Challenge
"The Chinese Dao"
|Mark J. Hopper
Jessica D. Collins
|8||Apr 24, 2018||"The Karabela"||Ethan Kempf||Liam Fuller||Ron Gramza||Evan Griffith|
|9||May 1, 2018||"The Zande Spear"||Drew Goodson||Jason Nass||Daniel James Reichow||Larry Metcalf|
|10||May 8, 2018||"The Navaja"||Matthew Christiano||Wade Seiders||Christoph Deringer||Brandon Austin|
|11||May 15, 2018||"The German Halberd"||Phillip Baldwin||Johnathan Sibley||Doran Doran||Ben Swapp|
|12||May 22, 2018||"The Two-Handed Sword"||Jonathan Allen||Ed Wilson||Andy Walker||Jordan Kataris|
|13||May 28, 2018||Military History Tribute
|Jon Nagel||Mike Miller||Jim McGuinn||Perry Johnson (medically disqualified)|
|14||May 29, 2018||"Horseman's Axe"||J. Alex Ruiz||Mike Bailey||Andrew Woznak||Bill van Heteran|
|15||Jun 5, 2018||"Lion Spear"||John Grady Hippard||Matthew Berry||Aaron Morrison||JC Krusen|
|16||Jun 12, 2018||"Kelewang"||Tim Lough||Hunter Johnson||Alan Kirby||Edward Lacey|
|17||Jun 19, 2018||"Bagh Nakh"||Chad Hatfield||Josh Prince||Aaron Trosky||John Galso|
|18||Jun 26, 2018||"Glaive Guisarme"||Nick Santella||Alex Eisenberg||Brian Neville||Dwight Neely (medically disqualified)|
|19||Jul 3, 2018||"Pioneer Sword"||Mark Sperry||Nicholas Downing||Garrin Bucco||John Dickinson|
|20||Jul 17, 2018||"Wind and Fire Wheels"||Rebel Rodriguez||Chuck Cook||Tony Miller||Steve Lewis|
|21||Jul 24, 2018||"Smallsword"||Derek Melton||Bob Andrews||John Clark||Atsatsa Antonio|
|22||Jul 31, 2018||"Celtic Anthropomorphic Sword"||Bill Behnke||Chuck Fowler||Cole Coffer||Brett Onnink|
|23||Aug 7, 2018||"The Kilij"||Connor J. Myers-Norton||Brian Weaver||Curtis Haaland||Marc Setzer|
|24||Aug 14, 2018||"The Sawback Hunting Sword"||Trevor Rideout||Devin Cornell||Mike Camp||Gordon Knapp|
|25||Aug 21, 2018||"The Arming Sword"||John Stokes||Drew Hash||Duane Bennet||Quentin Horton|
|26||Aug 28, 2018||"The Senegese"||Ashe Cravenock||Levi Kring||Geoff Keyes||Jon Turner|
|27||Sep 4, 2018||"The Qinglong Ji"||Michael Kerley||Jason Fry||Rob Singleton||Ryan Brewer|
|28||Sep 12, 2018||"Hollywood Edition"||Mike Deibert||Trystan Nguyen||Brian Bivens||Douglas Loven|
|29||Sep 19, 2018||The "Steel Crossbow"||JD Hungerford||John-Francis Ellis||Jeffrey Hedgecock||Michael Shrinkman|
In the city of Cohoes, New York near Albany, a man, inspired by the series, tried to forge a piece of metal over a fire in a barrel near his home. He caused a fire that destroyed three residential buildings and damaged 28 others.
- These four contestants, all champions from previous seasons, were invited to compete again. The winner received an additional $10,000 and the title "Champion of Champions"
- These four contestants from previous seasons were invited to compete again based on fans' reaction to their initial performance.
- This episode featured contestants eliminated from previous episodes returning for a chance at redemption
- These four contestants from previous seasons, each chosen by one of the four judges, were invited to compete again.
- Four master/apprentice pairs competed in this episode. When Jesse withdrew at the end of the first round, Zack was allowed to continue on his own.
- Five champions from previous episodes were invited to compete again. Raymond Smith was eliminated based on the results of a preliminary test performed on blades that they forged ahead of time.
- This episode followed the same structure as the Ultimate Champions Edition in Season 4, with five smiths who were inspired to take up the craft after watching the show.
- Zumberge, Marianne (April 27, 2015). "History's Weapon Competition Series 'Forged in Fire' to Debut This Summer". variety.com. Variety. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Pfeiffer, Jeff (April 27, 2015). "Former "Special Ops Mission" star Wil Willis returns in new History competition series". www.channelguidemagblog.com. Channel Guide Magazine. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Kryah, Kevin (Jun 22, 2015). "Talking Swords on the Brooklyn Set of History's New Reality-Competition Series". www.esquire.com. Esquire. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Forged in Fire Season 3 will be released on — August 23, 2016 - PremiereDate.TV". premieredate.tv. Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
- Petski, Denise (April 27, 2015). "Bladesmiths Cut To The Chase In New Competition Series On History". deadline.com. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Man Inspired by TV Show 'Forged in Fire' Sets Off Huge Blaze, Officials Say