Series 7: The Contenders

Movie made: 2001 | Set in: early 2000s

Summary Table
Event Likelihood Time frame
Televised death sports low 2030+

Approach to the future

Scenario as media parody.


Futurism: 3
Dead-on accurate but rooted completely in the present.

Entertainment: 7

Plausibility: 6

Interesting depictions

Randomly chosen citizens are drafted as players on “The Contenders,” a sort of “Survivor” (and sometimes “Real World”) with firearms. Contestants must eliminate the five other players in the round, with victory going to the last person alive.

“The Contenders” is a vast improvement on the death sports depicted in Rollerball (1975) and The Running Man: it is actually entertaining. This show’s producers know how to keep the drama high, however artificially, and get all the action on screen, with cameramen who follow contestants everywhere.

It is made more gripping by the arbitrary selection process. Anyone can end up on screen, trying to figure out how to kill their neighbors, if the show’s agents arrive at their door and give them a handgun.

Open death sports will not be permitted in America without catastrophic social change, which is quite unlikely. It is possible that something resembling death sports might be taped in one of the many lawless areas on the planet, such as Congo or Somalia, and made available on the Web.

More likely is the continued convergence of reality TV and entertainment. Real crime and disaster shows are growing ever more graphic. A service in Los Angeles now alerts subscribers to televised car chases, for their amusement.

Some future producer of a “Real War” program might equip the rebel group of the month with plenty of digital cameras and a satellite uplink, to capture their more spectacular activities. “Next week on ‘Real War’: this armored column never knew what hit it!”

Other technologies/topics depicted

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The futures depicted in the movies