Scare Tactics

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Scare Tactics TV Poster Image
Chilling practical jokes are too mean-spirited.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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

Language

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.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

Wondering if Scare Tactics is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bynuenjins December 11, 2019

Sadistic show encourages traumatizing others for fun. Unfunny and borderline abusive.

A murdered young girl is the basis of the first prank in the series and sets the tone for this shameless concept that gets it's kicks by justifying it... Continue reading
Adult Written byAbmWife April 26, 2020

Season 4 Episode 4 - shows bare breasts

I just wanted to warn other parents that this episode shows a woman strapped to a table with no top on and in her underwear.
Kid, 11 years old April 2, 2020

Very Inappropriate

It has rude language and has references to demonic themes, It is very mean to it's victims as it nearly scares them right out of there wits
Overall, it sho... Continue reading
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'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.

Talk to your kids 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
  • Network: Syfy
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: DVD
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate