Scare Tactics TV Poster Image

Scare Tactics

Chilling practical jokes are too mean-spirited.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

At heart, this is a rather mean-spirited show. People conspire with the producers to create elaborate scenarios that will terrify unsuspecting victims. Watching people who are clearly terrified and in distress may not be fun for all viewers.


Some of the pranks feature faked violence, which often has the victim completely fooled but seems pretty obvious to viewers. There's almost no blood or gore, though some of the scenarios feature various levels of pyrotechnics.


No sex or nudity. This show is all about pranks, and there's little focus on romance.


Many of the victims react to the show's pranks with some choice words or phrases. These words are bleeped, but it's not hard to figure out what they're saying.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this hidden-camera show is all about deception. Producers set up elaborate scenarios involving monsters, psychic powers, mysterious experimental drugs, and other quasi-supernatural themes -- all in the name of tricking and terrifying an unsuspecting victim. The situations are often quite clever and are carried off quite well, so it's not surprising that the victims are usually completely fooled. As a result, the big "payoff" is watching someone who's scared out of their wits. Their reactions are genuinely fearful, which can be unpleasant to watch. Bottom line? At its core, the show is mean-spirited.

What's the story?

In the spirit of Punk'd comes SCARE TACTICS, a reality show that goes to great lengths to scare the bejeebers out of unsuspecting victims. (Think Candid Camera with aliens.) Each episode features several unrelated scenarios that usually rely on elaborate sets and many accomplices to fool someone into believing they're in danger -- be it from a strange monster, a mentally unstable teen with dangerous psychic powers, a mysterious alien beast, or some other improbable but terrifying creature.

Is it any good?


The producers do a commendable job of setting the scene and selling it to the victims. Despite the fact that these monsters-in-the-dark seem straight out of the late-late-show's central casting department, the people are usually completely fooled. They tremble, their voices crack, and they're visibly relieved when someone finally tells them they're actually part of a TV show.

But is that good television? Comedian Tracy Morgan, who hosts the show, seems to take great delight in fooling people, as do the victim's friends, who are in on the act. But the people being deceived certainly aren't having fun -- not when they honestly believe they're in danger. And it's hard to say whether it's that much more enjoyable for them after the big reveal. Like many reality shows, Scare Tactics tries to transform pain and discomfort into entertainment for viewers; whether you find it entertaining or not, chances are you'll be glad you aren't on the show yourself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about if and when practical jokes go too far. Nobody gets injured in this show, but they're often clearly terrified. Is that OK? Does watching someone endure emotional distress make good television? Would you do this to one of your friends? Have you ever played a practical joke on someone? What are your own limits?

TV details

Premiere date:March 28, 2003
Cast:Tracy Morgan
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of Scare Tactics was written by

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Parent of a 10 year old Written byPNWHockeyFan October 6, 2010

Horrible role modal and message!

This show should NOT even be on tv, teaching about how much fun it is to scare people is not right, This show would be blocked if we had the choice!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written byTwilight April 9, 2008
Kid, 2 years old December 18, 2013

just plain mean.

Scare tactics is a good show but,its a little mean to be toying with peoples fellings also,there is language.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing