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Every Kid Wanted To Compete, But What Was It Actually Like To Be On Nickelodeon's GUTS?

Updated September 25, 2018 27.8k views11 items

Nickelodeon TV shows from the '90s rocked everyone's socks off, and some of the greatest heroes from that era were the kids who won GUTS. It was one of the best '90s shows period - the Aggro Crag was the pinnacle of kid quests. If '90s kids weren't daydreaming about what it would be like to compete on Legends of the Hidden Temple, then they were fantasizing about what it was like to be on GUTS.

GUTS ran on Nickelodeon from 1992-1996, and even had a short-lived 2008 revival called My Family's Got Guts. It was a wildly popular show that brought glory to its gutsiest competitors as adolescents looked on in awe. Years before shows like American Ninja Warrior became popular, kids were swinging, climbing, and crawling their way to televised glory.

So, what was it like to compete on GUTS? By most accounts it was a pretty great experience, but your place on the podium might carry with it some unexpected consequences. Here's the inside scoop on the ins and outs of GUTS, and what it took to reach that childhood Olympus. 

  • You'd Have To Climb The Aggro Crag, A Disorienting Mountain Of Confetti, Lights, And Water Guns

    The pinnacle of it all, the mountainous Aggro Crag was a steaming, misty mountain of jagged foam outcroppings. It was lit by disorienting, multicolored lights and would try to blast the safety-roped climbers off with confetti and water guns. 

    All of that stimuli made for a rather difficult experience, as contestant Anna Morris recalls during her interview with The A.V. Club:

    "...as you’re crossing to hit the actuators, there’s the confetti cannons going off in your face, there’s these misters, and it’s even squirting water sometimes. There’s just so much coming at you and you’re like, 'Oh my god, where’s that button?'"

  • You'd Get Along With Everyone

    In Anna Morris's interview with The A.V. Club, her recollection of the entire experience was that all of the Nickelodeon employees were very nice. The producers were respectful and prioritized the safety of the contestants, the hosts were really funny and supportive, and even the production crew all had her back.

    They urged her on to beat her only male opponent on the show: he was getting a little too big for his britches since in facing two girls he clearly thought his victory was certain. Fortunately, Anna crushed him.

  • A Professional Movie Stunts Team Would Approve The Obstacles Before You Did Them

    All of the events were tested in advance to ensure they were safe enough for kids - even the producers ran through them, and a professional stunt team was involved to make sure dangerous events like "human pinball machine" didn't end up part of the routine. There really wasn't potential for any kind of legitimate injury, but the one event that beats kids up a little was the aerial bridge.

    When they would swing into the platform at the end and clamber up to victory, apparently the impact could be a little rough, and there could be some bruising. No children died from said bruising.

  • You Weren't Allowed To Cut Corners

    Anna Morris recalls her experience on the Aggro Crag, the winner-take-all culmination challenge. Initially, she lost. The boy she was competing against won, and they even filmed the award ceremony. But then the producers reviewed the tape, and noticed that the boy had used a handrail that wasn't part of the course to assist his climb, so they actually re-filmed the event, which Morris won.