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Fran Tarkenton & Tim Wrightman (1988)
Mike Adamle (1989–1996)
Joe Theismann {also as narrator} (1989)
Todd Christensen (1990)
Larry Csonka (1990–1993)
Lisa Malosky (1993–1995)
Danny Lee "Nitro" Clark (1995–1996)
Terry "Hulk" Hogan & Laila Ali (2008)
John Harlan (1989–1991)
Van Earl Wright (2008)
Pilot: Taped 1988
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American Gladiators 97.png
Syndication (Weekly): 9/9/1989 – 5/11/1996
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NBC Primetime: 1/6/2008 – 8/4/2008
Telemundo (Gladiadores Americanos): 2008 (Spanish-dubbed broadcasts of English version)
Trans World International/Four Point Entertainment (1989–1996)
FLOR-JON Films/Reveille Productions/Room 403 Productions/MGM Television (2008)
The Samuel Goldwyn Company

American Gladiators was a competition television program that matched a cast of amateur athletes against each other, as well as against the show's own "gladiators", in contests of strength and agility.


Bob McElwee (1990)
Larry Thompson (1990–1996; also a referee on Superstar American Gladiators in 1995)
Al Kaplon (2008)

The American Gladiators[]



  • Blaze– Sha-ri Pendleton (1990–1992) (She was once rumored to be dead, only to be confused with former contestant Cheryl Wilson, a heptathlete from LSU who competed in Season 4)
  • Dallas – Shannon Hall (second half of Season 5) (She returned with Zap to compete in alumni show in the final season)
  • Diamond – Erika Andersch (1990–1993) (she also competed in BOTH the Orlando and Lafayette Live Shows and temporarily appeared as "Lightning" in the British Version of Gladiators, but another woman with the same name didn't appreciate this, so she switched back to "Diamond")
  • Elektra – Salina Bartunek (1992–1994) (She competed part time after breaking her nose in 1993 Grand Championship; she could also speak eight different languages and was the translator for the deaf Gladiator Siren)
  • Gold – Tonya Knight (1990–1992)
  • Ice – Lori Fetrick (1990–1992, 1993–1996) (She was a rough and tough Gladiator with a warm heart; her biggest feud was against Denise Chase, who defeated her TWICE in the same event: The Joust)
  • Jade – T.C. Corrin (1989) (She competed in final episode of first half of Season 1 as an injury replacement for Sunny, and was never seen afterwards, due to an injury to herself; a NEW Jade appeared in the Orlando Show, but she was quickly kicked off the show due to her extremely aggressive attitude)
  • Jazz – Victoria Gay (1993–1996)
  • Lace (1) – Marisa Pare (1989–1992)
  • Lace (2) – Natalie Lennox (Season 4) (She competed in just two episodes and World Challenge of Champions, and in late 1992, she reappeared in the British Gladiators as "Star")
  • Siren (1) – Shelley Beattie (1992–1996) (she was the only deaf Gladiator (she attempted suicide and died in 2008 prior to the revival from hanging herself))
  • Sky – Shirley Eson-Korito (1992–1996) (She was the tallest female gladiator at 6'3", and was also a chocoholic and possesses a very sweet attitude. Most fans, Gladiators and contenders, loved Sky for this very reason)
  • Storm – Debbie Clark (1991–1993) (She started as an injury replacement for Gold, and was powerful, but extremely aggressive (especially in Season 4))
  • Sunny – Cheryl Baldringer (1989) (She left after being injured in semifinal round during Breakthrough and Conquer. Sunny was "The All-American Woman" and the biggest of the three female Gladiators (Zap, Lace and Sunny).)
  • Zap – Raye Hollitt (1989–1990, 1991–1995)


  • Atlas – Philip Poteat (Season 4) (Appeared in World Challenge of Champions only. Passed away in 2017.)
  • Bronco – Robert Bruce Campbell (1989) (He competed in one episode as an injury replacement for Malibu, and was never seen again.)
  • Cyclone – Barry Turner (Season 4) (He competed in the preliminary rounds but suffered with an injured arm and didn't return.)
  • Gemini – Michael Horton (1989–1992)
  • Havoc – George King (Season 4) (He was a part-time Gladiator)
  • Hawk – Lee Reherman (1993–1996) (Passed away in 2016.)
  • Laser – Jim Starr (1990–1996) (He was only Gladiator to appear on all seven seasons of the show.)
  • Malibu – Deron McBee (1989)
  • Nitro – Danny Lee Clark (1989–1992, 1994–1995) (He returned as a co-host during the final season in this version, and was also the coordinating producer of the 2008 revival.)
  • Rebel – Mark Tucker (1993–1994)
  • Sabre – Lynn "Red" Williams (1992–1996)
  • Tank – Ed Radcliffe (He competed in three episodes of Season 5 as an injury replacement for Laser.)
  • Thunder – Billy Smith (1990–1992)
  • Titan (1) – David Nelson (1990) (Was kicked off the show because he chased the referee into the stands after an incident in Human Cannonball.)
  • Tower – Steve Henneberry (1991–1994) (He started as an injury replacement for Turbo.)
  • Turbo – Galen Tomlinson (1990–1996)
  • Viper – Scott Berlinger (1992–1993) (He debuted at 1992 Grand Championship.)



  • Crush – Gina Carano
  • Fury – Jamie Reed (Season 1) (Related to Toa)
  • Hellga – Robin Coleman
  • Jet – Monica Carlson (Season 2) (Season 1 Champ)
  • Panther – Corinne van Ryck de Groot (Season 2)
  • Phoenix – Jennifer Widerstrom (Season 2)
  • Siren (2) – Valerie Waugaman
  • Stealth – Tanji Johnson (Season 1)
  • Steel – Erin Toughill (Season 2)
  • Venom – Beth Horn


  • Beast – Matt Morgan (Season 2)
  • Hurricane – Breaux Greer (Season 2)
  • Justice – Jesse Justice Smith, Jr.
  • Militia – Alex Castro
  • Mayhem – Romeo Williams (Season 1)
  • Rocket – Evan Dollard (Season 2) (Season 1 Champ)
  • Titan (2) – Mike O'Hearn (was once a warrior on Battle Dome)
  • Toa – Tanoai Reed (Related to Fury)
  • Wolf – Don "Hollywood" Yates
  • Zen – Xin Wuku


Four amateur athletes (two men & two women) competed in a series of events against not only each other, but also the force of the American Gladiators. There were two match-ups per show: one for the men, and one for the women (thus, there would always be a male and female champion).



In this event, the contender had 60 seconds (1 minute) to hit a target using a series of projectile weapons, while avoiding high-speed tennis balls being fired at them by a Gladiator using an air-powered cannon. The course spanned the entire arena floor, with each weapon located at a safe zone that provided some cover for the contender. Each successive station brought the contender closer to the Gladiator's cannon, and traveling to each one required the contender to cross open space where the Gladiator had an unobstructed shot at the contender. The contender's run ended immediately if he/she hit the target or was hit by the Gladiator's fire.

In the first half of Season 1, there were four safe zones consisting of a pillbox (where the contender started the event, weapon in hand), a burnt out building, a thatch bush, and two oil drums, and four weapons (see chart below). If the contender hit the bull's eye on the target (which was located at the foot of the Gladiator's platform), he/she would receive 100 points. Hitting the outer rim was worth less points (originally 60 and rising to 75 by the end of the season). If the contender fired all four weapons unsuccessfully, he/she could take cover in the last safe zone until time expired to earn 30 points for a draw.

From the second half of Season 1 onward, the course consisted of five safe zones and five weapons. The contender also had to run to the first safe zone instead of starting at it, and the target was moved above the Gladiator's head. A finish line was also added after the last weapon station, and contenders had to cross the finish line within the allotted time in order to earn a draw.

Other changes to this event made over the course of the series included the following:

  • For the second half of Season 1 and all of Season 2, hitting the outer rim of the target was worth 7 points and the bull's eye worth 10. Crossing the finish line at the end of the course earned the contender 4 points and a draw.
  • Beginning in Season 3 (and continuing for the rest of the original series and revival), all target hits were worth 10 points. If he/she failed to hit the target, the contender was awarded 1 point for each weapon fired. A draw awarded an additional point, for a total of 6 points.
  • Beginning in Season 5 the contenders had to hit an actuator at the end of the course in order to earn a draw.
  • In Season 1 of the 2008 series, each weapon had to be loaded by hand and several smaller barriers were added to further aid the contenders. Season 2 returned to having the weapons pre-loaded, with the exception of one.

Assault Course configurations over the years were as follows:

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 The contender had to last 60 seconds without getting hit at the final safe zone The Gladiator was covered in dirt (for males) or glitter (for females)
1b Crossbow Rocket launcher Cannon Pistol 3 Hand grenades The contender had to cross the finish line within the time limit Pyrotechnics were at the foot of the Gladiator platform
2 3 Softballs A smoke cannon would shoot the Gladiator and their cannon
3 and early 4 Pump gun The smoke cannon was fired in front of Gladiator
Later 4 Ball rifle Crossbow 2 Softballs
5–7 Crossbow Arrow rifle The contender had to hit buzzer at end of course within time limit The smoke cannon would shoot the Gladiator
2008 Version
1 Slingshot Turret Cannon Rocket search/Smokescreen Rocket crossbow rifle 3 balls, which had to be deployed with a button The contender had to press a button at the end of the course within the time limit The Gladiator would be launched into pool of water
2 Cannon (which no longer rotated) Bazooka/smokescreen

Atlasphere (1990-1994 & 2008)[]

This event was conducted across the entire arena floor and saw the contenders and Gladiators enter spherical metal cages to do battle in a 60-second (1-minute) event. The object for the contenders was to roll their spheres into any of four octagonal scoring pods while the Gladiators used their spheres to impede the contenders' progress.

In the first year that this event was part of the rotation, the scoring pods had a large circular depression in the middle. The contenders had to roll into the pod and settle their sphere into it for one second in order for a score, which would be indicated by a blast of nitrogen "smoke" from the center of the pod. This caused problems for some contenders as they could not generate enough momentum to get out of the pod and would become stuck for an extended period. For Season 3, the pods were redesigned to prevent contenders from getting stuck. In addition, an actuator was placed in the middle of each pod, so all a contender had to do to score was touch it, which would trigger a ring of chase lights and a plume of smoke to indicate the score.

Each score was worth 1, 2, or 3 points (depending on the season and round of play).

Breakthrough & Conquer (1989-1996)[]

This event was a combination of American football and freestyle wrestling. The event was divided into two parts, each of which was scored separately. This was also an event that the show did not initially allow female contenders to compete in; for portions of the preliminary rounds in 1989 a different game was played off screen (see Swingshot).

In the Breakthrough part, the contender began at the 15-yard line of an artificial turf field and had to carry a football into the end zone for a touchdown. A Gladiator was positioned inside the five-yard line and had to remain there until the contender reached him/her. The contender scored by getting any part of the ball over the goal line without being tackled, going out of bounds, or losing hold of the ball. Also if the gladiator tackles the contender by the head, the contender automatically earns the points.

For the Conquer part, the contender moved over to a circle to grapple with a second Gladiator for 10 seconds (15 in Season 4). The contender won by forcing any part of the Gladiator's body to touch the floor outside the circle. If the contender was forced out, they could re-enter the circle and keep grappling until time expired.

In the first half of Season 1, 30 (later 40) points were scored 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 scored for each successful portion of the event (although 3 were scored during a point in Season 3).

Also in the first half of Season 1, the series experimented by having the Conquer circle elevated; this forced contenders to take the Gladiator completely out of the circle to win. A protective mat was placed on the floor below for safety. The experiment, which took place during the semifinal round of competition, ended badly after one of the female contenders pulled Gladiator Sunny out of the circle from the front, causing her to land awkwardly; Sunny suffered a severe knee injury as a result and left the series altogether.

Earthquake (2008)[]

In this event, a contender and Gladiator attempted to throw each other off of a moving twelve-foot circular platform above the arena floor and either onto crash mats (Season 1) or into water (Season 2). In order to win the event, one of them had to be completely removed from the platform and not be hanging onto anything supporting it.

The contender scored 10 points for throwing the Gladiator off the platform and 5 for lasting the entire 30 seconds.

Gauntlet (1993-1996 & 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. Contenders were given 25 seconds were given to start, and one of them made it out in time (or without being forced out of the chute), he/she scored 5 points. If he/she made it out within 20 seconds, he/she scored 10 points.

In the final season of the original series, this 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 series, the contenders were given 30 seconds to negotiate the Gauntlet, which was redesigned to take away the Gladiators' ability to push the contenders out of the chute. For Season 1 and the preliminary rounds of the competition, contenders received 2 points for passing each Gladiator for a total of 8, and then two more for breaking through a wall at the end after passing the last Gladiator (for a grand total of 10). For the remainder of the series, the timed scoring rules were revived with contenders receiving 10 points for escaping within 20 seconds and 5 for escaping within 30.

Hang Tough (1990-1996 & 2008)[]

This event saw the contenders use a series of hanging gymnastic rings to swing themselves from one side of the arena to the other with the object being to reach and land on a platform on the opposite side while trying to avoid being taken off the rings by a Gladiator or falling off on their own.

The contenders were given 60 seconds (1 minute) to reach the opposite end and scored 10 points if they did. If they lasted the whole 60 seconds and were still on the rings, they scored five points for a draw unless the official determined that they did not make enough of an effort to advance, resulting in no points being scored; this rule was instituted after several early playings saw contenders only go out a short distance from their platform. It also gave rise to a short-lived 7-point draw possibility, which required the contender to advance to the closest rings to the Gladiator's platform (which were color coded).

Contenders were required to continue moving as long as they were not stuck on one ring or engaged with a Gladiator, and neither the contender nor the Gladiator could stay in one place for more than ten seconds. Gladiators were not allowed to contact the contenders above the shoulders or pull the contestant down by their uniform, or they would be disqualified. Contenders could also win the event if they were impeded by a cameraman on the opposing platform. In those cases, the referee or game judge would explain on-air the issue and award the points.

The event debuted on the 1990 alumni show season premiere, but did not join the event rotation until the second half of the season began in 1991.

Hit & Run (2008)[]

Hit & Run was one of several events that the 2008 series adopted from the UK series.

The event took place on 50ft suspension bridge hanging above a water tank. At each end of the bridge was an actuator and each time a contender crossed the bridge and pushed it, 2 points were scored. Meanwhile, four Gladiators attempted to knock the contenders off by throwing 100-pound wrecking balls at them. The contenders were allowed to duck to avoid the balls but had to remain standing at all times otherwise. The event went on for 60 seconds (1 minute) or until the contender fell from the bridge.

Human Cannonball (1989 to 1990 (through the first half of Season 2), & 1992 to 1993)[]

The object of this event 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. The contender may not grab the gladiator during the swing to take to the mat.

Originally, three Gladiators played this event and contenders received three swings. For the first half of Season 1, 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 1, this was reduced to 3 points for each swing and 1 bonus point for knocking all three off. After that, two Gladiators competed in the event and contenders were given 5 points for each successful swing.

Beginning in the semifinals of the first half of Season 1, a rule was added that forbade contenders from leaving a tucked position while swinging; the rule was put in place out of safety concerns raised after Gladiator Malibu suffered a gash caused by contender Brian Hutson hitting him in the face with his feet extended. Any contender who did not remain in this position for the entire swing had the results of their swing disallowed. A first season addendum also called for removal from the event for a second offense, which happened to contender Elden Kidd in the second half of the season when he committed two fouls against Gladiator Titan.[1] A gladiator can be disqualified if he/she dodges against the contender and not taking the hit.

Human Cannonball was replaced by Hang Tough in the rotation after the first half of Season 2, and was brought back in Season 4 before being retired.

Joust (1989 to 1996 & 2008)[]

This event saw the contender and Gladiator compete against each other with pugil sticks for 30 seconds.

In the first half of Season 1, the event was conducted on an apparatus resembling a bridge. To win the event, either the contender or Gladiator could knock the other off of the bridge or advance on them and try to get them to cross a line behind them. This was supposed to trigger a trap door, which would open and drop the loser onto the floor, but it rarely worked properly. In addition, each contender was guaranteed points regardless of the result. The scale started at 30 points and increased by 5 for every five seconds a contender stayed in the bout. Draws were worth 75 points and a victory was worth 100.

Beginning in the second half of Season 1 (and continuing across the remainder of the original and revival series), the objective now became to knock the opponent off of a pedestal onto a crash pad (original series) or into a pool (revival). In this case, 10 points were scored for a win, with 5 scored for a draw.

Several things could result in a disqualification, and included the following:

  • Dropping the pugil stick (the initial half season also required both combatants to keep both hands on their sticks at all times)
  • Actively grabbing the opponent's pugil stick out of their hands (the only instance in which losing one's own pugil stick did not lead to being disqualified)
  • Touching the opponent's pedestal with any part of the body
  • Failure to mount an offensive effort
  • Both knees touching the pedestal (2008 revival)
  • Losing one's protective helmet

In the second half of Season 3, the contenders and Gladiators began wearing gloves while Jousting. This rule was instituted after contender Marek Wilczynski had to have the tip of one of his fingers amputated when it got jammed against his pugil stick.

During special episodes if at least two contenders are tied with the same low score, a Joust-off would have been played against the contenders, with the same rules applied, except there is no time limit.

The Maze (1991 to 1993)[]

For this event, 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 in time scored 10 points, with the second scoring 5.

Powerball (1989 to 1996 & 2008)[]

Regarded as a signature event of the whole series, this was an event where the contenders attempted to score by depositing red and blue colored balls (originally rubber play balls, then soccer balls and finally much smaller Nerf balls) into narrow cylinders while trying to evade three Gladiators who defended the playing field.

In the first half of Season 1, Powerball was conducted on a half-circle shaped field with two bins filled with balls at one end and the scoring cylinders laid out on the edge of the circle at the other end. Each score was worth 15 points and for 45 seconds, the contenders would grab balls from their respective bins and try to score while the Gladiators attempted to stop them by any means possible (tackling, pushing the contender out of bounds, etc.) so long as they were not excessively rough with the contenders; if any Gladiator was determined to have violated this rule, the contender was rewarded with a score.

In the second half of the season, the Powerball field was extended to take up the entire length of the arena floor and the layout of the scoring cylinders changed, as well as one being placed in the middle of the field), with any ball deposited there worth more points. In addition, the ball bins were placed on opposite ends of the field and the contenders had to alternate which bin they chose balls from. The Gladiators were not allowed in these areas. Also, penalties for rough contact now resulted in a Gladiator being removed from the event and all tackling was banned; with the exception of the tackling ban, these rules remained in place for the remainder of the original series (Gladiators were forbidden to tackle above the shoulders, though).

In the second half of Season 1, goals in the four outer cylinders were worth 1 point and the center cylinder was worth 2. After that, the scoring varied from 1 to 3 points for the outer goals, and 2 to 5 for the center goals (depending on the season and round of play). Beginning in Season 2, the event began using scoring cylinders with a wider, rounded bottom; the original cylinders were prone to falling over and breaking if contenders and Gladiators knocked them over.

The 2008 series' Powerball game was played for 60 seconds (1 minute) on a field had a retaining wall placed around it, which took away the out of bounds option for the Gladiators. For Season 1, goals were worth 2 points for the outer cylinders and 3 for the center, and the cylinders had wider openings to encourage contenders to attempt to toss their scoring balls into them. Season 2 discarded that in favor of the original cylinder style and goals were reduced to 1 point for the outer cylinders and 2 for the center.

Super Powerball (1992 to 1993)[]

Introduced in season four of the original series, this was a variant on the original event played with two Gladiators and three scoring cylinders laid in a straight line in the middle of the field. 3 points were awarded for goals in the left or right cylinders, and 5 points were awarded for center cylinder goals. If a Gladiator committed a violation, the contender was credited with a score.

Pyramid (1993 to 1996 & 2008)[]

In this event, the contenders faced a pyramid made out of tiered crash mats and were given 45 seconds to try to ascend it. Two Gladiators stood in their way, attempting to prevent them from reaching the top. At the top of the Pyramid was an actuator (originally a ring bell) that the contenders were required to hit to score. The first contender to do so scored 10 points, and the second contender to do so received 5 points.

The 2008 series increased the time limit to 60 seconds (1 minute) and adapted a rule from the British series for scoring purposes. The fourth tier from the top had a white dotted line placed on it, which was referred to as the "scoring zone". If either contender reached it, they would score 5 points. 5 additional points would be scored (and the event would end) if a contender reached the summit and hit the actuator. The British series called the fourth tier from the top the "safety step" and instituted this after Diane Youdale, who portrayed female Gladiator Jet, was forced to retire from the series after suffering an injury on their Pyramid. The rule that the Gladiators could not chase contenders above the step was not adopted as contenders would have an unfair advantage.

Also in 2008, the event became part of the Eliminator course at the end of each episode. (See the Eliminator section below.)

Rocketball (2008)[]

This was an event that was saw the contenders face off against two Gladiators in a high flying basketball game.

Each player was attached by a harness to a bungee cord. The contenders each had a bin of colored balls that they would try to place in one of two colored baskets, one red and one yellow, hung from the ceiling of the arena. To do this, they would press a button on the stage floor which would launch them toward the baskets. The Gladiators, meanwhile, had buttons of their own and would use theirs to launch themselves up to play defense.

The process repeated itself for 60 seconds (1 minute). For each ball the contenders put inthe red basket, which was the higher basket, 2 points were awarded. Each ball in the lower yellow basket was worth 1..

Sideswipe (2008)[]

A new event for Season 2, this event had both contenders hopping or running from platform to platform above the water as they attempted 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 were transporting the balls, three Gladiators attempted to knock them off the platforms by swinging at them on rope swings – with the Gladiators themselves being the projectiles.

Sky Track (1992 to 1995 & 2008)[]

In the version of Sky Track played on the original series, 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.

There were three possible outcomes to every race and they were scored in the following manner.

  • If the Gladiator finished first, the contender who crossed the line in 2nd place scored 5 points.
  • If one contender finished ahead of the Gladiator, the contender was awarded 10 points for winning the event.
  • If both contenders finished ahead of the Gladiator, the first contender to finish received 10 points, and the second received 5.

The 2008 series adopted the format used on the British series. Here, both contenders were chased by a Gladiator over a figure-eight shaped track and had to make one lap around the track. Each contender wore a harness with a ripcord on it, which the Gladiators would try to grab. If they did, the contender would be disconnected from the track and lose the event. Contenders were awarded 10 points for completing the course first, with the second contender receiving 5.


There were two different events called Snapback played on the show. The first debuted in Season 6 in 1994 and was played for the remainder of the series. The second was part of the 2008 series.

Original Snapback[]

In this version, the contenders faced two Gladiators, with all attached to bungee cords. The objective was to run out onto the field of play and grab large red and blue scoring cylinders that were hung above the field, using the bungee cord for assistance. The Gladiators attempted to impede the progress of the contestants and/or knock the cylinders away.

Once the contender had a cylinder, they would bring it back to a large scoring bin and drop it in if they kept possession of it. The red cylinders were hung lower than the blue ones and were worth 2 points (later 1) for each one retrieved. The higher-hanging blue cylinders were worth 3 points (later 2) as they were tougher to grab.

2008 Snapback[]

This version saw the contenders try to hit a red button at the end of a 50ft-long lane. Each contender was attached to a Gladiator with a bungee cord, with the Gladiator providing resistance by pulling on the cord from a platform above the floor. Contenders were given 30 seconds to reach the buttons, and if they did, the Gladiators would be launched across the arena. There were four scoring zones along each lane, and if any part of the contender's body was in one of those zones, which ranged from 2 to 8 points in 2-point increments, they received that many points when time expired.

Swingshot (1991 to 1996)[]

In this event, the contenders faced three (later two) Gladiators in a 45-second event (the time limit for this event was later increased to 60 seconds (1 minute)). 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.

Contenders were awarded 1 point 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 or 3 points. The red balls were highest on the cylinder and were worth 3 to 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 1, 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.

Tug-O-War/Tilt (1993 to 1996 (as Tug-O-War) & 2008 (as Tilt))[]

The contender faced a Gladiator in a two-man tug of war on tilting platforms for thirty seconds.

In the original series, the platforms were at equal height and the contender started tilted back with the Gladiator starting tilted forward. The object was to pull the Gladiator off the platform, which scored 10 points. A flag was placed in the middle of the rope and the contender could earn 5 points for a draw if they stayed on the platform for the entire 30 seconds and had the flag on their side of the arena. Neither the contender nor the Gladiator could let go of the rope, as doing so would result in a disqualification. A contender or a gladiator can also be disqualified is he/she held on to the platform during the tug.

In the 2008 series, which saw the event adopt its British series' name, the rope was attached to two harnesses worn by the contender and Gladiator and the Gladiator's platform was raised above the contender's to put them at a disadvantage. The contender was awarded 10 points for a win and staying on the platform for the entire 30 seconds earned the contender a draw.

Vertigo (2008)[]

This was another UK series import added to the 2008 series rotation.

The event was a race between the contender and Gladiator on a course of seven poles hung from the roof of the arena. Each participant had their own set of poles to traverse. The race started with the contender and Gladiator climbing up the first pole, and from there they had to maneuver from pole to pole and reach a hoop at the end of the course. The first to pull their respective hoop won the race.

The contenders earned 10 points for winning. If the Gladiator won, the contenders could still score 5 points if they had reached the fifth pole before the race ended.

The Wall (1990 to 1996 & 2008)[]

This event saw the contenders trying to ascend a rock-climbing wall without being pulled off by a pursuing Gladiator. The original series conducted the event on a 32ft structure. The height of the wall during the first season of the 2008 series was 40ft high, and it was extended to 50ft for the second.

Debuting in the first half of Season 1, the time limit for the event was 2 minutes. The contenders were also given a head start on the Gladiators, with the men receiving 15 seconds, and the women receiving 10. Beginning in Season 2, and continuing across both the original and revival series, the limit was set at 1 minute. Originally, the head starts were carried over and both men and women contenders received 10 seconds (with the exception of a brief spell in Season 4 when 15 seconds were given).

In Season 5 of the original series, The Wall was given an overhaul. A partitioned structure was built with grips placed on the dividers which enabled all participants to cross over to a new section. The contenders and Gladiators each started climbing one of the partitions, with one pairing beginning at the leftmost two partitions and the other at the rightmost two. All four climbers started at the same time, and in order to pull their contender off the Gladiators had to cross over. The contenders, meanwhile, were able to cross over to the center partition and force their pursuer to cross two partitions to pull them down. When the series returned in 2008, The Wall's previous format returned with it, but with only a seven-second head start given.

The first contender to successfully ascend The Wall received 10 points, and 5 were given to the second if they both made it. For the first two seasons (and very briefly in Season 4), the higher advancing climber scored 5 points if they were both pulled off. The 2008 series awarded 5 points for staying on The Wall without being pulled off for the entire time.

Whiplash (1993 to 1996)[]

In this event, the contender and Gladiator grasped opposite ends of a "dog bone" with triangular handles, each using one hand and standing atop a 20ft diameter circular platform. The contender had 30 seconds in which to either pull the bone away from the Gladiator ("owning the bone") or drag him/her off the platform, thus scoring 10 points. The Gladiator won by "owning the bone" or staying on the platform for the entire 30 seconds. Touching the bone with both hands resulted in disqualification.

In Season 7, the contender could earn 5 points for a draw by holding onto the bone until time expired.

The Eliminator[]

This served as each episode's final event and was the only event where the contenders competed 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 event itself was an obstacle course laid out over the entire arena floor. The obstacles used varied from year to year.

For the first two seasons, the Eliminator was conducted with a time limit and both contestants started at the same time. In Season 1 both sets of contenders had 60 seconds (1 minute) to finish, and in the second the women had 75 seconds.

The event was scored in the following manner:

  • Each second left on the clock was worth 2 points to each contender (5 under the original scoring format).
    • Before the Eliminator started, the deficit between the leader and the opponent was divided by two (originally five) and the opponent had to finish ahead of the leader by that amount of time or more to win.
    • In the five preliminary matches, a contender would run the course alone for points and seeding if his/her opponent could not continue beyond the final event before the Eliminator. If this happened at any other point in the competition, the Eliminator would not be run as there was no need to[2].
  • If the contenders committed a foul in their run (falling from an obstacle, failing to properly complete it, etc.), they were assessed a penalty of five seconds and the corresponding points were deducted from their final total for the event.

Beginning with the first episode of Season 3 and continuing for the remainder of the series, the Eliminator was no longer scored. Instead, the leading contender was given a head start of a half-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 this season came some changes, many of which remained in place for Season 4.

In keeping with the aesthetic overhaul AG went through at the start of Season 5, the Eliminator too was given a makeover inspired by the British Gladiators course in use at the time. While most of the course remained the same, three new obstacles were added in Season 5 and a fourth in Season 7.

In Seasons 5 & 6, the Gladiators' involvement was limited to "enforcing" the time penalties for falling off the hand bike. (The Gladiators were removed altogether for Season 7 (penalties would be enforced by game judges) as well as both seasons of the 2008 revival.)

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

List of Eliminator Obstacles[]
Season Eliminator Course
Original Run
1 Weighted Ball Push Balance Beam Commando Lines Swing for Life Cone Slalom Wall of Gladiators Finish
2 Treadmill Hand Bike Balance Beam Cargo Net Zipline Two Hurdles
3 Treadmill Hand Bike Spinning Cylinder Cargo Net Zipline Eight-foot wall Medicine Ball Gauntlet/Second Eight-foot Wall Corridor Sprint Final Hurdle to Finish Line
4 Treadmill Hand Bike Spinning Cylinder Cargo Net Zipline Plexiglass Wall Blocking Dummy Gauntlet Final Hurdle and Race through Finish
5-6 Versaclimber Slide Treadmill Rope Swing Finish
7 Ball Pit
2008 Revival
1 Eight-foot wall Swim under Fiery Surface (20 Feet) Cargo Net Barrel Roll Hand Bike Balance Beam Pyramid Zipline Travelator (The Treadmill) Steps Finish Blocks
2 Swim under Fiery Surface (40 feet) Cargo Net Rope Swing Tightropes Hand Bike Ball Pit Inclined Spinning Cylinder Zipline Teeter Totter Rope Swing Finish

Tournament Formats[]

Originally, the first tournament was conducted to find one male champion and one female champion for the season. The winners would then return as Gladiators to compete in subsequent tournaments. 20 contenders (10 of each sex) in each half-season tournament were chosen from a nationwide contestant pool based on tests of strength and agility, with several alternates chosen in case a contender could not continue due to injury. Five preliminary round matchups were played with the winners automatically advancing to the quarterfinal round, along with the three highest scoring losers. Any alternates from that point on came from the previous round's losers. Once the quarterfinals began, the tournament became a single elimination affair until the champions were crowned, with $10,000 cash awarded to them. Losing contenders were awarded $2,500 for advancing as far as the semifinals, while the losing finalists were given $5,000.

Initially, the first season was intended to consist of only the tournament, which lasted a total of 13 weeks. Due to the popularity of these episodes, the producers of American Gladiators began work on a second series of episodes to fill the rest of the season. With a new format, four new Gladiators, and the addition of a new event along with the revamping of the rest of the events, the second tournament launched with a total of 22 men and women competing. The two extra spots were given to the winners of the first tournament, who faced off against the winners of the second tournament for more cash and prizes in the first ever Grand Championship final.

Season 2 used the same format as the previous half-season.

In Seasons 3 & 4, the field of competitors increased to 48 and the tournament format was adjusted. Six preliminary round matches were played, and the winners of these matches automatically advanced to the quarterfinals. The winners of the three quarterfinal matches advanced to the semifinals, along with the highest scoring non-winner. The semifinals and finals went on as before with the winners of the half-season tournaments meeting in the Grand Championship.

For Season 5, the tournament format was revamped again with a total of 32 competitors. Eight of them on each side played four preliminary round matches, and following that, they were each seeded based on their performance. From there, the tournaments were conducted in single elimination format, thus eliminating the need for wild cards.

In Seasons 6 & 7, a single tournament was spread out over the season and a rule in place on the British Gladiators (and later carried over to the 2008 revival) was adopted. This time, contenders were not only competing to win (with $2,500 given to all preliminary winners regardless), but to have the highest overall winning score as well. Once all the preliminary rounds were completed, the four highest scoring winners advanced to the semifinal round, with the winners playing for $25,000 in the Grand Championship.

2008 Revival[]

In Season 1, the four male contenders and the four female contenders who won their respective preliminary matches with the fastest Eliminator times advanced to the semifinals, and the winners of the two semifinals matches competed in the finals. In Season 2, the top six contenders of each gender advanced to the semifinals, and after three semifinal matches, the two winning contenders of each gender with the fastest Eliminator times advanced to the finals.


During the first half of Season 1, the intention was to reward the winners by promoting them to the role of American Gladiators; this reward, however, was never implemented and was abandoned after this half-season.

The show awarded cash prizes depending on how far the contenders advanced. For the first five seasons, $10,000 cash was awarded for winning the half-season finals. Runners-up in these finals were guaranteed $5,000. Contenders that lost in the semi-final rounds were guaranteed $2,500 for advancing that far. Grand Champions received another $15,000 (for a grand total of $25,000), while the runners up won $10,000 more (for a grand total of $20,000). In the first two seasons a new Chevrolet automobile of the Grand Champion's choice, worth up to $20,000 (selections included Lumina, Lumina APV, Cavalier, Metro, Tracker, Storm, C/K pickup, Caprice, Suburban, Camaro, Beretta, Blazer, etc.), were awarded to the Grand Champions. In Season 3, a Chevrolet Blazer (a Suzuki Sidekick in Season 4) was awarded to the Grand Champion, and the runner up received a Club Med vacation. The runner-up prize was eliminated in Season 5.

To coincide with the change in tournament structure in Season 6, contenders won $2,500 for winning matches in the preliminary rounds and $10,000 in the semi-final rounds. $15,000 was given for winning the Grand Championship in Season 6, while $10,000 and a guaranteed berth in International Gladiators 2 was awarded in Season 7.

2008 Revival[]

The grand prize in Season 1 was $100,000, a 2008 Toyota Sequoia, and the right to become a Gladiator for Season 2. The cash prize and car remained the same in Season 2, but there was no explicit mention of the contenders becoming Gladiators.


Trade Ads[]

Events Gallery[]


Potential Revivals[]

So far, only three attempts were being made to revive the series for the 21st century.

A. Smith & Co. Productions era[]

On July 7, 2014; a TV Guide report said that a third revival of American Gladiators was in the works with Arthur Smith of A. Smith & Co. Productions.[3][4]According to Smith, he says that "It's a little darker, more intense, more serious" He also mentions that "It's a little less red, white and blue. And there's no spandex" claiming that "Spandex has left the building". In a nod to modern times, it would also incorporate elements that were inspired by the popular film franchise The Hunger Games along with mixed martial arts claiming that "Times have changed" as "This one is totally different" so "It's more post-apocalyptic, but it's the same spirit". Development for the revival was made for the past several months and was shopped to broadcast and cable networks in the coming weeks. However, the planned revival backfired since then.

Rogen/Goldberg era[]

On August 7, 2018; according to[5]It was reported that a fourth revival of American Gladiators was in the works to be revived for the 2019-20 season (the 30th Anniversary of the franchise's debut on television) and is again being shopped by MGM and original creator John Ferraro along with actor Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who are expected to serve as executive producers. It is currently talking to distributors who are interested in the revival. MGM Television, under its group chairman Mark Burnett has been pushed hard over the past few years and currently accounts for around 800 hours of programming a year. American Gladiators is the second revival of a well-known reality format that Burnett and MGM TV are currently shopping along with a new Eco-Challenge to be hosted by Bear Grylls. Additionally, Burnett recently set up a revival of the boxing series The Contender at MGM-owned Epix.

The division has been focusing on expanding the scope of its unscripted content development and production under Barry Poznick.

Both Rogen and Goldberg have already produced a number of TV series including: The Boys, Black Monday, Preacher and Future Man. Rogen is repped by UTA, Principal Entertainment and law firm Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson.

In addition, Rogen tweeted about the potential revival of AG by saying[6]"When you love something, you just want more of it".

But like the planned 2014 version by A. Smith & Co., this also never gotten off the ground as well.

WWE/World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. era[]

On September 24, 2021; according to[7]It was reported that MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) are teaming up with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly WWF/World Wrestling Federation) on their fifth attempt at a revival of American Gladiators that would feature a slew of WWE Superstars (quite possibly as the new gladiators). Mark Burnett and his team are currently pitching the series as it seems like good timing for the Hollywood studio and Vince McMahon's wrestling federation given the success of physical competition series in the non-scripted space from American Ninja Warrior, to Floor is Lava and Holey Moley as well as the growing focus on WWE content with Netflix's interactive film Escape the Undertaker and a documentary series about McMahon from Bill Simmons as well as a Blumhouse tv scripted series The United States vs. Vince McMahon in the works. Deadline has also reported that a documentary about American Gladiators has been set for an upcoming 30 for 30[8] documentary from ESPN and Vice Studios. Both MGM & WWE will serve as executive producers on the project.

American Gladiators Orlando Live![]

In 1995, The American Gladiators[9]performed a dinner show in Orlando, Florida. Featuring Dallas, Hawk, Ice, Jazz, Nitro, Sabre, Siren, Sky, Tower and Turbo along with the new Gladiators named Apache, Cobra, Electra, Flame, Flash, Jade, Quake, Rage, Raven, Tank, Thor, Tigra, Titan and Viper. Some of the event from the show were: The Wall, Breakthrough and Conquer, Assault, Whiplash and the Eliminator.

Online, on Tour and Into Animation[]

Since 2008, MGM franchised American Gladiators as a Broadband Website, a Tour and as a potential cartoon.[10]

Broadband Website[]

On January 28, the studio will launch a broadband website that will pay homage to the original series, where the site will feature clips of the original series which have all been re-digitalized as clips will reintroduce original Gladiators and give fans an update on where they are today. Feature segments will also include "Best Hits" and stunts performed on the vintage show.


On the heels of the website launch, MGM, Reveille and Flor-Jon, Films Inc. will unveil a special American Gladiators U.S. cross-country tour.


MGM along with Johnny Ferraro, owner of Flor-Jon, Films Inc. have put into development a cartoon series based on the franchise but has never aired on television since then.

Potential Film[]

In 2009, Johnny Ferraro creator of American Gladiators once wanted to bring a live-action version[11] of the show as a film based on it. Former Legendary Pictures chief marketing officer Scott Mednick was producing the film where the goal was to create an action story that takes place inside the world Ferraro created. In addition, the series was originally conceived as a film. But has never been made.

Controversial Gladiators[]

Cheryl Wilson-Minelli[]

In 1997, a news report said that former grand champion Cheryl Wilson-Minelli[12]was brutally killed by her husband on Monday as police believe their three and one-half year old daughter may have been a witness.

Juan Minelli is being held without bond on a murder charge by Oakland Park Police in Florida. Minelli, a former pro boxer, is accused of punching and knocking his wife to the floor, choking her and repeatedly stabbing her with kitchen knives. police say she escaped at one point, but that he dragged her back into the house after stabbing her a few times outside and finally hit her in the head with a steel hammer.

Minelli himself reported the murder. He showered, called his parents, then dialed 911 to say "I just killed my wife. Send everybody" His call to his parents, according to Sgt. Patrick Murray of Oakland Park Police, was a plea for money to leave the country, He instead got instructions from his father to call the police.

Minelli told police he become enraged after his wife came home from work late, believing she had been at the home of a female lover. The couple were married in 1992. Police had no record of domestic abuse calls on them.

Wilson-Minelli was the 1993 grand champion of the popular syndicated show, which pits contestants against the series' strong arm regulars. The former Louisiana State University athlete ranked second in the United States and tenth in the world in the heptathlon in 1991 qualifying her for the world championship team.

Alex "Militia" Castro[]

In 2007, according to The New York Post[13]one of the "Gladiators" from the short-lived 2008 NBC version named Alex Castro ("Militia") claimed that he was a "gay porn star" as various naked pictures along with a film of Castro have turned up on gay porn sites and were first reported last week by the Internet Gossiper himself named Perez Hilton.

Debbie "Storm" Clark[]

In 2011, news reports said that one of the female gladiators from the original series named Debbie Clark ("Storm") made only $1,500 a day[14][15]. since that time, she and her 10-year-old son Crayton have been homeless in San Diego for more than two years after fleeing from a domestic violence situation in South Carolina. Clark was also in pain from knee injuries as she has to deal with her son's food allergies and ADHD. However, in the same year, comedienne, talk show hostess and former host of GSN's revival The Newlywed Game and current host of GSN's Best Ever Trivia Show, Sherri Shepherd helped get back on her feet by promising to pay six months' of rent, gas and electrical costs.

International Versions[]

Countries that have done their own versions of American Gladiators include:

  • Arab League
  • Australia
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Japan
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom


Bill Conti


Universal Studios, Hollywood, CA (1989–1991)
CBS/MTM Studios, Studio City, CA (1991–1996)
Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, CA (2008, Season 1)
Los Angeles Sports Arena (2008, Season 2)


Dan Carr and John Ferraro


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Additional Pages[]

American Gladiators/Merchandise‎‎
American Gladiators/In Popular Culture
American Gladiators (channel)


Before the 2008 version, four years ago plans to launch a live American Gladiators show on the Las Vegas strip became mired in a securities fraud prosecution.
Despite having a short-lived, two season only run. The 2008 version was not only the first to air on NBC but was the first to have been hosted by a former professional wrestler from the WWF/WWE (i.e. Hulk Hogan); the second of that nature is The Titan Games hosted (and executive produced) by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson from 2019 until 2020.
The 2008 version was also aired dubbed in the Spanish language on Telemundo as Gladiadores Americanos (American Gladiators). The only major difference was the change of the title logo, though the main logo on the stage remained unchanged.


Gladiators 2000 - (a.k.a. "G2") was a short-lived children's spinoff of American Gladiators that ran in syndication from 1994 until 1996.
Superstar American Gladiators - an hour-long, one-off primetime special featuring four teams of celebrities from four major television networks (i.e. ABC, CBS, NBC & FOX respectively) that were each represented by an American Gladiator as their team captain that aired on ABC on May 4, 1995.



YouTube Link[]

American Gladiators account