|American Ninja Warrior|
|Based on||Sasuke by Ushio Higuchi|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||13|
|No. of episodes||176|
|Running time||36–128 minutes|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Picture format||HDTV (1080i)|
|Audio format||5.1 Surround|
|Original release||December 12, 2009 –|
|Preceded by||American Ninja Challenge (2006–08)|
American Ninja Warrior (sometimes abbreviated as ANW) is an American sports entertainment competition based on the Japanese television series Sasuke. It features hundreds of competitors attempting to complete series of obstacle courses of increasing difficulty in various cities across the United States, in hopes of advancing to the national finals on the Las Vegas Strip and becoming the season's "American Ninja Warrior."
To date, only Isaac Caldiero, Geoff Britten, and Drew Drechsel have finished the course and achieved "total victory". Caldiero and Drechsel are the only competitors to win the cash prize. The series premiered on December 12, 2009, on the now-defunct cable channel G4, and airs now on NBC with encore episodes showing on NBCSN. Since 2020, the show also airs on Spanish-language network Telemundo.
In late 2006, the American cable channel G4 began airing broadcasts (subtitled in English or dubbed with English commentary and re-titled Ninja Warrior) of the Japanese sports entertainment television special Sasuke. Coinciding with this, the channel held the first American Ninja Challenge, in which Americans gained the opportunity to be sent to compete on Sasuke. Over time, the semi-annual Sasuke broadcasts on G4 gained a cult following in the United States and eventually became some of the channel's most-watched broadcasts. This led to the creation of the American adaptation of the show, American Ninja Warrior, in 2009. American Ninja Warrior followed American Ninja Challenge as the qualifying route for Americans to enter Sasuke.
Since the fourth season, American finalists compete on a nearly-identical finals course on the Las Vegas Strip not traveling to Japan to compete on Sasuke. NBC began broadcasting the city finals and national finals episodes in the fourth season.
By the fifth season, G4 was set to be replaced by Esquire Network and had wound down all original programming—besides American Ninja Warrior—by January 2013. Notably, the sideboard advertising along the fifth season's courses listed Esquire Network as the broadcaster because G4 was going to transition into Esquire Network by April 22, 2013—prior to the season premiere. However, the channel switch was delayed to September 23, 2013, and Esquire Network took over Style Network's channel space instead. As a result, NBC became the sole broadcaster of the original episodes while Esquire Network aired reruns until the eighth season.
|Premiere||Finale||Winner's prize||Last Ninja
|Venue||Last Ninja Standing/
American Ninja Warrior(s)
|1||December 12, 2009||December 19, 2009||8||None||None||Sasuke 23||Levi Meeuwenberg||Failed Stage 3||Blair Herter||Alison Haislip||None|
|2||December 8, 2010||December 23, 2010||10||$250,000||Sasuke 26||David Campbell||Matt Iseman||Jimmy Smith||Alison Haislip|
|3||July 31, 2011||August 21, 2011||10||$500,000||Sasuke 27|
|4||May 20, 2012||July 23, 2012||24||Mount Midoriyama
(Las Vegas Strip)
|Brent Steffensen||Jonny Moseley||Angela Sun|
|5||June 30, 2013||September 16, 2013||22||Brian Arnold||Akbar Gbaja-Biamila||Jenn Brown|
|6||May 26, 2014||September 8, 2014||15||Joe Moravsky|
|7||May 25, 2015||September 14, 2015||18||$1,000,000||Geoff Britten||Isaac Caldiero||Completed Stage 4[a]||Kristine Leahy|
|8||June 1, 2016||September 12, 2016||15||Drew Drechsel||Failed Stage 3|
|9||June 12, 2017||September 18, 2017||17||Joe Moravsky|
|10||May 30, 2018||September 10, 2018||17||$100,000||Drew Drechsel|
|11||May 29, 2019||September 16, 2019||18||Drew Drechsel||Completed Stage 4||Zuri Hall|
|12||September 7, 2020||November 6, 2020||9||$100,000||None||St. Louis||Daniel Gil||Won Power Tower Playoff|
|13||May 31, 2021||September 20, 2021||16||$1,000,000||$100,000||Mount Midoriyama
(Las Vegas Strip)
During each episode, the play-by-play announcer and color commentator provide play-by-play on a competitor's run on the course while the sideline reporter introduces the obstacles and interviews competitors.
In the second season, comedian and television host Matt Iseman joined the show, replacing Herter. Producers were fond of his knowledge of sports and lighthearted, enthusiastic delivery. Additionally, MMA fighter Jimmy Smith was brought in as co-host while Haislip was assigned to the new sideline reporter position. The panel remained the same throughout season three.
For season four, Olympic medalist Jonny Moseley was brought in as the new color commentator, replacing Smith. Producers believed his experience as a freestyle skier would bring a unique perspective to the series. Meanwhile, sportscaster and television presenter Angela Sun replaced Haislip.
For season five, two newcomers were introduced. Sports analyst and former NFL player Akbar Gbaja-Biamila replaced Moseley, while ESPN sportscaster and model Jenn Brown replaced Sun as sideline reporter. Gbaja-Biamila was contacted to audition for the role of co-host in Los Angeles after being seen on the NFL Network by one of the series' executive producers. The season five panel remained the same through the sixth season.
Before being eligible to compete, all contestants must first meet a number of requirements. Some of the requirements are; (1). Contestants must be legal residents of the United States. (2). Contestants must be in decent physical shape. (3). There is no maximum age limit, but contestants must be at least 19 years of age to apply (21 years old during the first nine seasons). Starting in Season 13 the producers asked specific teens ages 15–18 to submit a video to be on the show. (4). Contestants must fill out a 20-question questionnaire and make a video about themselves. Video length requirements have varied from two to eight minutes, depending on the season. (It is currently 2-3 minutes).
About 1,000 people applied to compete in the first season, 3,500 in the fifth season, 5,000 in the sixth season, 50,000 in the seventh season, 70,000 in the eighth season, and 77,000 in the ninth season. Producers then select 100 contestants from the thousands of applicants to participate in each regional qualifier. They also select 20 to 30 "walk-ons" who may wait weeks camping outside a course to compete on it.
City qualifiers and finals
City qualifier and finals courses are filmed back-to-back, usually over two nights.
In each city qualifier course, the competitors that the producers have selected compete on an obstacle course consisting of six obstacles.
At the beginning of each run, a buzzer sounds off and a timer begins, allowing a competitor to start the course. The first obstacle on any city qualifying course is the Quintuple Steps, Quad Steps, Floating Steps, or Shrinking Steps which competitors must run across. This is followed by four different obstacles that test a competitor's balance, upper-body strength, and grip. These five obstacles are built above water (although the balance obstacles were built above a safety mat until season 8). If a competitor falls into the water or touches it, their run ends immediately and the timer records their time.
Until the ninth season, the sixth and final obstacle was the 14'6" Warped Wall, in which competitors were given three chances to reach the top. In the tenth season, the 18-foot "Mega Wall" was introduced adjacent to the warped wall. Competitors had only one attempt to reach the top of the Mega Wall and, if successful, they won $10,000. In the eleventh season, competitors choosing the Mega Wall who failed on their first attempt could earn $5,000 on their second attempt and $2,500 on their third if they were successful on, respectively, their second or third attempts. Competitors are given the choice of which to climb.
At the top of both walls, a competitor presses a buzzer that stops the timer and records their time, ending their run on the course. The top 30 competitors who go the farthest in the least amount of time advance to the city finals course. Since the fifth season, competitors who complete the city qualifiers automatically move on to the city finals. Since the ninth season, the top five women also advance to the city finals, even if they do not finished in the top 30.
City finals courses are the follow-up to each city qualifying course. They contain four new obstacles in addition to the six obstacles featured in the city qualifying course. These four obstacles are all placed after the original six obstacles. In the tenth season, two of the original six obstacles are replaced with new obstacles for the city finals course, but this was dropped in season eleven.
The top 15 or 12 competitors who go the farthest in the least amount of time from each city finals course move on to compete on the National Finals course. Since the fifth season, competitors who complete the city finals automatically move on to the National Finals. Since the ninth season, the top two women in each city finals course also move on to compete on the National Finals course, even if they do not finish in the top 15 or 12. Previously, many women had been granted "wildcard" slots, which allowed them to advance to the National Finals. Since the eighth season, small prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 are awarded to first, second, and third finishers who complete the city finals course.
In the first three seasons, there was a semi-finals course in between the city finals and the National Finals courses, where the top 15 competitors from the city finals course were narrowed down to 10 and then sent to Japan to compete on Sasuke. In the second and third seasons, this was referred to as "boot camp" and took place at a summer camp in Simi Valley, California. During this time, competitors trained together for multiple days and took part in pressure challenges. With the expansion of the series in its fourth season, there was no longer a need to narrow down competitors to 10, as they were no longer being sent to Japan, and this semi-finals course was removed.
Los Angeles, CA
|Las Vegas, NV||Finals venue||Finals venue|
|St. Louis, MO||Finals venue|
|Kansas City, MO|
|Oklahoma City, OK|
|San Antonio, TX|
|Daytona Beach, FL|
Obstacles are designed and produced in the five months prior to an episode taping. In the fourth season, each location contained one or two obstacles that differed between other locations. Since the fifth season, three to five obstacles have differed. In the eighth season, 18 obstacles were debuted. In the tenth season, the show's first underwater obstacle was introduced during Stage 2 of the National Finals.
Beginning with the ninth season, fans of the show have been given the opportunity to design their own obstacles through the ANW Obstacle Design Challenge. Seven fan-submitted obstacles have been featured on the series thus far.
In the first three seasons, the top 10 ANW competitors advanced to a Sasuke finals course in Japan. Since season four (except for season twelve), ANW has had a finals course on the Las Vegas Strip known as "Mount Midoriyama." The National Finals course consists of four stages, each containing obstacles of increasing difficulty. The course is about the same size as four football fields and contains 23 obstacles.
Stage 1 consists of eight obstacles, which test the competitors' agility and speed. The first stage is timed, and only the competitors who successfully complete it within 2:35 advance to Stage 2.
Stage 2 contains six obstacles that test competitors' strength and speed. Competitors must complete the course within a time limit in order to advance to Stage 3. The time limit through the first nine seasons was 4:00. In the tenth season, the time limit was increased by 30 seconds.
Stage 3 consists of eight obstacles that test competitors' upper body and grip strength. It is the only stage in the National Finals that has no time limit. Like Stages 1 and 2, only the competitors who successfully complete Stage 3 move on to compete on Stage 4. Starting in Season 10, Stage 3 has a clock that counts up to determine any tiebreaking times should no contestant advance from Stage 3, since the format guarantees prize money to the contestant that advances the furthest on the course, and the tiebreaker is based on how fast the contestants reached the previous obstacle prior to failing.
Stage 4 contains the final obstacle of the National Finals courses—a rope climb. Competitors must complete this rope climb in :30 or less in order to be crowned as "American Ninja Warrior." The rope climb's height was 50 feet from the first through third seasons, and was increased to 65 feet in the fourth season. It has been increased since to 75 feet.
Aside from the first season, if a competitor completes all four stages of the National Finals, they receive a cash prize. In the second season, the prize money was $250,000. In the third season, the prize was an endorsement deal with K-Swiss worth $500,000 and to become the face of a national advertisement campaign for the company as well as G4. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth seasons, the cash prize was $500,000. From the seventh to eleventh season, the cash prize has been $1,000,000.
From the second through seventh seasons, the fastest competitor to beat the final stage would receive the full prize money, regardless of whether other competitors completed Stage 4 as well. Beginning with the eighth season, if multiple competitors completed Stage 4, the competitors split the prize money.
Starting in the tenth season, a guaranteed $100,000 cash prize is offered, without regard of a player finishing all four stages. The player who advances the furthest on the course in the fastest time is declared the "Last Ninja Standing," and wins the prize. If any competitor finishes all four stages, the prize money is augmented to $1,000,000. If one competitor finishes Stage 4, he wins the entirety of the augmented prize. If multiple competitors completed Stage 4, the prize money is split among competitors that finished Stage 4, with the fastest competitor still declared the overall champion.
The first season of American Ninja Warrior began production in July 2009. The season premiered on December 12, 2009, on G4, and concluded on December 19, 2009. It consisted of eight half-hour episodes. The qualifying round took place on the beach in Venice, Los Angeles, where a tryout was opened, meaning, competitors from across the United States had to fly themselves there to compete. Levi Meeuwenberg was the Last Ninja Standing, having gone the farthest in the least amount of time among the American competitors on Sasuke 23.
The second season premiered on December 8, 2010, on G4, and concluded on December 23, 2010, after 10 hour-long episodes. Qualifiers were held in Venice, Los Angeles in August. Out of the 10 competitors sent to Japan to compete on Sasuke 26, five completed Stage 1, four completed Stage 2, while none completed Stage 3. David Campbell was the Last Ninja Standing, having been the American gone the farthest in the least amount of time on Stage 3.
The third season had the same format as the second season but aired in the summer. Qualifiers were held in Venice, Los Angeles in May. It premiered on July 31, 2011, on G4, and concluded on August 21, 2011. The finale was aired again on August 22, 2011, as a two-hour primetime special on NBC. In addition to the 10 Americans sent to compete on Sasuke, one fan of ANW got the chance to compete as well. This was the result of an eBay auction in which proceeds were sent to the American Red Cross to help with recovery efforts following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. During Sasuke 27, four of the six competitors who reached Stage 3 were American—a new record. Previously, only one American would reach Stage 3 per Sasuke competition. David Campbell was again the Last Ninja Standing, having gone the farthest in the least amount of time among the American competitors on Stage 3.
The fourth season was notable for differentiating American Ninja Warrior from Sasuke and began what is known as "the modern era" of the series. Following the ratings success of the third season's NBC primetime special, the fourth season aired on both G4 and NBC. It premiered on May 20, 2012, on G4, and concluded on July 23, 2012, on NBC. City qualifier courses were aired on G4, while the city finals courses aired on NBC. With an increased production budget, preliminary rounds were held in three locations across the United States. In addition to Venice, Los Angeles, six regional qualifier competitions (Northeast, Northwest, Midwest, Midsouth, Southeast, and Southwest) took place in Dallas and Miami. During the National Finals, which were held for the first time in the United States, Brent Steffensen was the only competitor to reach Stage 3 and became the Last Ninja Standing. He went further on Stage 3 than any American had ever gone before—including on Sasuke.
The fifth season premiered on June 30, 2013, on G4, and concluded on September 16, 2013, on NBC. City qualifiers and finals courses aired on both G4 and NBC. Regional competitions were held in four locations: Venice, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Miami, and Denver. In the Los Angeles qualifier, Jessie Graff became the first woman to qualify for a city finals course. During the National Finals, 41-year-old Joyce Shahboz became the first woman to compete there twice in two years (as a wild card), while Brian Arnold fell on the final obstacle of Stage 3 and won the title of Last Ninja Standing.
The sixth season premiered on May 26, 2014, and concluded on September 8, 2014, with original episodes airing solely on NBC. Regional competitions were held in Venice, Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis, Miami, and Denver. In the Dallas qualifier, Kacy Catanzaro became the first female competitor to make it up the Warped Wall. Later in the Dallas finals, she became the first woman to complete a city finals course. Catanzaro's two runs have been described as the first "viral moment" of the show and are credited with increasing the seventh season's submissions ten times over. During the National Finals, Joe Moravsky fell on the antepenultimate obstacle of Stage 3 and became the sixth season's Last Ninja Standing.
The seventh season premiered on May 25, 2015, and ended on September 14, 2015. Regional competitions were held in six locations, including two in Los Angeles. In addition to the Venice course, a special military-only course was built in San Pedro. Regional competitions were also held in Kansas City, Houston, Orlando, and Pittsburgh. During Stage 3 of the National Finals, two competitors, Isaac Caldiero and Geoff Britten, completed the course and advanced to Stage 4, marking the first time any competitor(s) completed Stage 3. During Stage 4, Britten completed the rope climb in 29.65 seconds out of a maximum of 30 seconds, while Caldiero completed the rope climb in 26.14 seconds out of a maximum of 30 seconds. As Caldiero completed Stage 4 faster than Britten, he was awarded the trophy and $1,000,000, and Britten was awarded the title of "First American Ninja Warrior" when he became the first competitor to complete all six courses (city qualifier, city finals, and four stages of the National Finals) in a single season.
The eighth season of the series began on June 1, 2016, and concluded on September 12, 2016. The eighth season marked a 40 percent increase in the number of female submission videos from the previous season. Regional competitions were held in Venice, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia. During the Philadelphia finals, no competitor completed the course—a first in the series' history. In Stage 1 of the National Finals, many "veterans" of the show, including Ryan Stratis, Brent Steffensen, Travis Rosen, James McGrath, Jamie Rahn, Mike Bernardo, Kevin Bull, Ian Dory, Jojo Bynum, and Geoff Britten, did not complete the course. As a result, only 17 competitors advanced to Stage 2—the lowest in the series' history. However, Jessie Graff became the first woman to complete Stage 1, placing fifth. On Stage 3, Drew Drechsel fell during his run and became the Last Ninja Standing.
The ninth season premiered on June 12, 2017, and ended on September 18, 2017. Qualifiers were held in Universal City, Denver, Kansas City, San Antonio, Daytona Beach, and Cleveland. A record of 41 competitors successfully completed Stage 1 during the National Finals, including David Campbell, Ryan Stratis, Drew Drechsel, and Allyssa Beird, who became just the second woman to complete it. Stage 2 saw every competitor eliminated less Joe Moravsky, Sean Bryan, and Najee Richardson. However, none would go on to complete Stage 3. Bryan and Richardson fell on the Ultimate Cliffhanger, while Moravsky fell on the penultimate obstacle and became the Last Ninja Standing.
The tenth season began airing on May 30, 2018, and ended on September 10, 2018. City qualifier and finals competitions were held in Universal City, Dallas, Miami, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. Drew Drechsel and Sean Bryan—the two competitors to reach Stage 3 of the National Finals—both fell during their runs. However, Drechsel fell at a faster time than Bryan, crowning him the Last Ninja Standing. As the result of a format change introduced this season, Drechsel was also the first Last Ninja Standing to win $100,000 for being the competitor who went the farthest in the least amount of time on the National Finals course but did not complete Stage 4.
The eleventh season started its premiere on May 29, 2019 and ended on September 16, 2019. City qualifier and finals competitions were held in Universal City, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Tacoma, marking the first time that a course was held in the Pacific Northwest. New rules regarding the Mega Wall obstacle, which was introduced in the previous season, came into effect. Competitors were given three chances to make it up the wall, but the prize money decreased after each attempt, starting at $10,000, then decreasing to $5,000, and finally $2,500. This season also introduced the Power Tower, where the top two finishers from each city qualifying would race on a giant metal structure to gain the "Speed Pass", which guaranteed them a spot in the National Finals. In City Finals, the Power Tower was modified, and the top two finishers would race for the "Safety Pass", which allowed them to rerun the course in either one of the first two stages (Stage 1 or Stage 2) if they fail. A record of 21 athletes completed Stage 2, and both Drew Drechsel and Daniel Gil completed Stage 3 of the National Finals. Daniel Gil was not able to complete the rope climb on Stage 4 in the 30-second time limit, but Drew Drechsel was able to climb it in 27.46, earning him the title of American Ninja Warrior and $1,000,000.
On January 22, 2020, the series was renewed for a twelfth season, which premiered on September 7, 2020. For the first time, a Spanish-language version airs on Telemundo. Qualifying cities originally included returns to Los Angeles and St. Louis with a new location, Washington, D.C., with the National Finals initially set to be held again held in Las Vegas. Production of the season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic with filming interrupted in the middle of production on the show, just a day before it was set to begin. On August 12, 2020, it was announced that the season would premiere on September 7. The season, consisting of eight episodes, was filmed at The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri; ANW was the first NBC series to have completed a full season of episodes during the current pandemic.
The thirteenth season will consist of 16 episodes and air from May 31 to September 20, 2021.
USA vs. The World
|Special||Air date||Champions||Runner-up||3rd Place||4th Place||Commentators||Sideline reporter|
|1||USA vs. Japan||January 13, 2014||Team USA||Team Japan||N/A||Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila||Jenn Brown|
|2||USA vs. The World||September 15, 2014||Team Europe||Team USA||Team Japan||N/A|
|3||January 31, 2016||Team USA||Team Europe||Kristine Leahy|
|4||June 4, 2017||Team Latin America|
|5||March 11, 2018||Team Europe||Team USA||Team Asia|
|6||January 27, 2019||Team USA||Team Australia||Team Europe||N/A|
|7||January 26, 2020||Team Australia||Team USA||Zuri Hall|
NBC has aired a series of six specials in which ANW fan favorites compete in a team against teams of competitors from regions across the world, including Japan, Europe, Latin America, Australia, and most recently, Asia. The competitors race on the same course used in the ANW finals.
All of the specials have been hosted by Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila. The first two included sideline reporter Jenn Brown. The next four included Kristine Leahy as sideline reporter. Since the 2020 special, Zuri Hall has sideline reported.
The first special was called USA vs. Japan, while the rest were named USA vs. The World. The inaugural competition was aired on January 13, 2014, and was won by Team USA. The second special aired on September 15, 2014, and was won by Team Europe. The third special aired on January 31, 2016, and was won by Team USA. The fourth international competition was aired on June 4, 2017, and was again won by Team USA. The fifth special aired on March 11, 2018, and was won by Team Europe.
The sixth competition aired on January 27, 2019. For the first time, each team had at least one female competitor. It was won by Team USA. The seventh competition aired on January 26, 2020, and was won by Team Australia.
On May 29, 2016, prior to the premiere of season eight, NBC aired a two-hour all-star special in which hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila chose their own all-star teams composed of three veterans, one rookie, and one woman. Teams competed on stages two, three, and four of the regular season finals course, Mt. Midoriyama, as well as competitions on a supersized course that tested their skills in competitions on the giant pegboard, 40-foot Salmon Ladder, Flying Shelf Grab, and Jump Hang, concluding with a race to the top of the "Mega" Warped Wall.
The all-star winners were Team Akbar, who won the team competition by beating Team Matt 5–3. Joe Moravsky completed Stage 2 in a record time of 1:08:52.
On February 20, 2017, NBC aired a second two-hour all-star special. Like the previous year's competition, ANW hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila chose their own all-star teams, this year composed of one veteran, one breakout star, and one woman. Team Matt featured Chris Wilczewski, Najee Richardson, and Jesse "Flex" Lebreck. Team Akbar featured Grant McCartney, Neil "Crazy" Craver, and Meagan Martin. Sideline interviewer Kristine Leahy picked her team, which consisted of Jessie Graff, Flip Rodriguez, and Nicholas Coolridge. Teams competed in a relay race to finish sections of stages one, two, and three of the regular season finals course, Mt. Midoriyama. Next came the skills competition on a supersized course, where contestants tested their skills in competition on the 75-feet tall Endless Invisible Ladder, the 4-story high Super Salmon Ladder, Supersonic Shelf Grab, Striding Steps, and the Mega Wall, now 20 feet high.
The all-star winners were Team Kristine, who won the team relay race competition, beating Team Matt and last year's champions Team Akbar. Their highlight of the night was completing Stage 3 in a record time of 5:30:62, making this the POM Wonderful Run of the Night.
On May 17, 2018, NBC aired a third two-hour all-star special. Like the last two seasons' competition, ANW hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, along with Kristine Leahy, chose their all-star teams composed of two male veterans and one female veteran. The reigning champs, Team Kristine (gray/pink), featured: Jessie Graff, Flip Rodriguez, and J.J. Woods. Team Matt (blue) featured: Jamie Rahn, Lance Pekus, and Jesse Labreck. Team Akbar featured first-time all-stars: Allyssa Beird, Jon Alexis Jr., and Tyler Yamauchi.
For the first half of the special, the athletes competed individually, earning "skills medals". First was the "Skills Competition", which consisted of climbing the Super Salmon Ladder, 4 stories high and 35 rungs in the fastest time. Sean Bryan was the winner with a time of 19.39. The second skill medal was the Wicked Wingnuts obstacle. Drew Drechsel was the winner with a distance of 20 feet. Third, upper body strength was tested on the Thunderbolt won by Jamie Rahn. Fourth, a speed and balance challenge on the Striding Steps was won by Jake Murray with a time of 28.76. Finally, in a new obstacle, the Mega Spider Climb, eight women all-stars raced side-by-side 80 feet up to the top of the Stage 4 tower. The competition was won by Jessie Graff in a time of 24:03, for the POM Wonderful Run of the Night.
The second half showcased the team competition: Stage 1 featured a relay race through the obstacles course. The first racer goes through the first three obstacles: Snake Run, the Propeller Bar, and the Double Dipper. The next racer tackles the middle three obstacles: the Jumping Spider, Parkour Run, and the Warped Wall. The third racer runs through the final two obstacles: the Domino Pipes and the Flying Squirrel + Final Climb. The remaining two teams compete on Stage 2 for the other spot in the finals. Team Kristine won Stage 1 and a bye to Stage 3. Stage 2 featured the Giant Ring Swing, Criss Cross Salmon Ladder, Wave Runner, Swing Surfer, Wingnut Alley and the Wall Flip. Team Matt won and moved to Stage 3, which featured Floating Boards, Keylock Hang, the Nail Clipper, Ultimate Cliffhanger, the Body Prop, Peg Cloud, the Time Bomb and the Flying Bar.
The all-star winners were Team Kristine who won the overall competition and the team relay race with a time of 6:12.06, beating Team Matt by only 5 seconds (6:17.96).
The fourth all-stars special aired on May 26, 2019 on NBC, prior to the eleventh season's premiere.
Just like the last three seasons' competition, ANW hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, along with Kristine Leahy, chose their all-star teams consisting of two male veterans and one female veteran. Two-time winner Team Kristine (gray/pink), focused on young all-stars: Mathis "Kid" Owhadi, Tyler Gillett, and Barclay Stockett. Team Matt (blue) reached out on the same team that just missed out on winning last season: Jamie Rahn, Lance Pekus (AKA "Cowboy Ninja"), and Jesse "Flex" LaBreck. Team Akbar (red) featured: Grant McCartney (AKA "Island Ninja"), Meagan Martin, and Jake Murray (AKA "Wild Man").
For the first half of the special showcased a team-based portion where the athletes competed on Stage 1 as a relay race. The team with the fastest time advances directly to the finals on Stage 3. While the other two teams compete on Stage 2 to earn their spot in the final.
Stage 1 obstacle course featured: Archer Alley, Propeller Bar, Double Dipper, Jumping Spider, Tire Run, Warped Wall, Razor Beams, and Twist & Fly + Final Climb. Team Akbar finished their race in 1:22.40. Team Matt edged them out with a time of 1:20.48 (2 seconds faster). Team Kristine got eliminated when Mathis Owhadi wiped out on his portion of the course (Tire Run).
Stage 2 featured: Epic Catch & Release, Criss Cross Salmon Ladder, Déjà Vu, Swing Surfer, Wingnut Alley, and Water Walls (the first underwater obstacle). Team Kristine got eliminated from the competition and Team Akbar moved to Stage 3 on as they went farther faster and the course.
Stage 3 featured: Floating Boards, En Garde, Crazy Clocks, Ultimate Cliffhanger, Curved Body Prop, Peg Cloud, Cane Lane, and Flying Bar. Team Akbar completed 6 obstacles with a time of 4:59.06. However, it wasn't fast enough for Team Matt who also completed 6 obstacles with only a 7-second difference (4:52.63).
The all-star winners were Team Matt who for the first time ever, won the overall competition and the team relay race with a time of 4:52.63, beating Team Akbar by only 7 seconds.
The fifth all-stars (skills challenge) special aired on August 31, 2020 on NBC, a week before the start of the twelfth season's premiere.
Like previous seasons' competition, ANW hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila returned, this time with Zuri Hall as the sideline reporter picking her first team this year. They chose their all-star teams consisting of two male veterans and one female veteran. Team Matt (blue): Karsten "Big Kat" Williams, Ryan Stratis, and Michelle Warnky. Team Akbar (red): Grant McCartney, Jake Murray, and Allyssa Beird. Team Zuri (yellow), like herself, Zuri chose a team of rookies: David "Cake Ninja" Wright, Seth Rogers, and Mady Howard.
"Skills Competition", where Ninjas earn a 'skills metal' for their individual skills started with the obstacle, Ferris Wheel: the final round featured Daniel Gil vs. Dave Cavanaugh who defeated their proteges: Gil & Mathis "Kid" Owhadi (both tackled the obstacle blindfolded) and Cavanaugh & Lucas Reale in round one. Cavanaugh was the overall winner. Next was the Striding Steps balance obstacle. The final round featured Ben Udy (AKA “Chad Flexington”) who won against Jody "Big Dog" Avila. Then it was the Mega Spider Climb where it was a city battle between Chicago and Atlanta. It was Michael Torres who beat his fellow Chi-town teammate Ethan "The Swan" Swanson, with a new ANW record time of 16.37.
Fan favorite from last season was the "Big Dipper Freestyle Challenge", where four ninjas chose their own trapeze dive into the water. They were judged on two attempts on a scale of 1 to 10. Adam Rayl scored a total of 38, "The Phoenix" Najee Richardson scored a 51. "Island Ninja" Grant McCartney and Jessie Graff both scored a 52 and tied. There was a "dive-off" and both performed a perfect score of 30, making them co-champions of the event.
The same format was used from last season where all three teams tackle the first stage as a relay race. Each competitor runs through a few obstacles then tags their teammate. The team with the fastest time gets a free pass straight to the finals in the third stage. While the other teams have to battle head-to-head on the second stage where the winning team advances to the finals while the losing team goes home.
Stage 1 obstacle course featured: Archer Alley, Spin Your Wheels, Double Dipper, Jumping Spider, Tire Run, Warped Wall, Diving Boards, and Twist & Fly + Final Climb. Team Matt finished the fastest with a time of 2:29.16 and advanced to the finals on Stage 3. They just edged out Team Zuri who finished the course in 2:31.48. Despite being the fastest through the first six obstacles, Team Akbar failed on the Diving Boards and could not post a time.
Stage 2 featured: Giant Walk the Plank, Extension Ladder, Snap Back, Swing Surfer, Grim Sweeper, Water Walls (underwater obstacle). Team Zuri made it through all six obstacles in a time of 2:34.11. However, that time wasn't fast enough for Team Akbar as they finished in a time of 2:00.71, eliminating the rookie team.
Stage 3 featured: Grip & Tip, Iron Summit, Crazy Clocks, Ultimate Cliffhanger, Pipe Dream, Cane Lane, Flying Bar. The team who cleared the most obstacles was Team Matt who cleared all 7 obstacles. Team Akbar made it through 5 obstacles, almost 6 before failing on Cane Lane.
The all-star winners were Team Matt who became back-to-back winners, winning the overall competition two years in a row.
Celebrity Ninja Warrior
Celebrity Ninja Warrior is a special episode of ANW where celebrities compete on a modified American Ninja Warrior course and are coached by ANW competitors. The special aired as part of Red Nose Day, with money raised during the event donated to Comic Relief USA. Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila hosted both editions alongside ANW sideline reporter Kristine Leahy.
The second special aired on May 24, 2018, and is notable for being the only time one of the show's hosts (Akbar Gbaja-Biamila) has actually run the course in competition. Each obstacle a celebrity completed raised $5,000 for Red Nose Day; earning up to $30,000 for finishing the whole course. A total of $185,000 was raised, courtesy of Comcast.
|Stephen Amell||Kacy Catanzaro|
|Derek Hough||Daniel Gil|
|Erika Christensen||David "Flip" Rodriguez|
|Natalie Morales||Grant McCartney|
|Nikki Glaser||Jessie Graff|
|Jeff Dye||Meagan Martin|
|Mena Suvari||Natalie Duran|
|Nick Swisher||Drew Drechsel|
|Ashton Eaton||Kevin Bull|
|Akbar Gbaja-Biamila||Kevin Bull|
|Colton Dunn||Natalie Duran|
|Derek Hough||Meagan Martin|
|Nikki Bella||Grant McCartney|
|Scott Evans||David "Flip" Rodriguez|
|Nastia Liukin||Barclay Stockett|
|Gregg Sulkin||Maggi Thorne|
A special, American Ninja Warrior Women's Championship aired on May 9, 2021 on NBC at 7:00pm EDT. It featured 12 female competitors that battled across two different obstacle courses. The top two finishers advance to race head-to-head on the Power Tower. The winner takes home $50,000 and become the first-ever ANW female champion.
ANW Women's Champion: Meagan Martin (in a come from behind win over Jesse "Flex" Lebreck on the Power Tower).
Awards and nominations
Creative Arts Emmy Awards
|2018||Outstanding Directing for a Reality Program||Patrick McManus||"Daytona Beach Qualifiers"||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured or Competition Reality Program||Editing Team[b]||Nominated|
|2019||Outstanding Directing for a Reality Program||Patrick McManus||"Minneapolis City Qualifiers"||Nominated|
Directors Guild of America Awards
|2019||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs||Patrick McManus||"Miami City Qualifiers"||Nominated|||
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards
|2015||Favorite Reality Show||American Ninja Warrior||Season 6||Nominated|||
People's Choice Awards
|2016||Favorite Competition TV Show||American Ninja Warrior||Season 7||Nominated|||
Primetime Emmy Awards
|2016||Outstanding Competition Program||American Ninja Warrior||Season 7||Nominated|||
Producers Guild of America Awards
|2017||Outstanding Producer of Competition Television||Production Team[c]||Season 7, 8||Nominated|||
|2018||Production Team[d]||Season 9||Nominated|||
|Season||Time slot (ET)||Episodes||Premiered||Ended||Channel/
|TV season||Season averages (NBC)
(Live + SD)
|Most watched episode|
|Viewers (millions)||18–49 rating|
|1||Saturday 6:00 pm||8||December 12, 2009||N/A||December 19, 2009||N/A||G4||2009���10||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2||Wednesday 8:00 pm||10||December 8, 2010||N/A||December 23, 2010||N/A||2010–11||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|3||Sunday 9:00 pm||10||July 31, 2011||0.38||August 21, 2011||0.25||2011||N/A||N/A||0.38|
|4||Monday 9:00 pm||24||May 20, 2012||0.34||July 23, 2012||4.87||G4
|5||Monday 8:00 pm||21||June 30, 2013||5.04||September 16, 2013||4.04||2013||5.15||1.6||5.81|
|6||Monday 9:00 pm||14||May 26, 2014||4.65||September 8, 2014||5.21||NBC||2014||5.33||1.8||5.83|
|7||Monday 8:00 pm||16||May 25, 2015||5.87||September 14, 2015||6.17||2015||6.54||1.9||7.32|
|8||13||June 1, 2016||6.35||September 12, 2016||5.88||2016||6.28||1.8||7.01|
|9||15||June 12, 2017||5.36||September 18, 2017||5.96||2017||5.86||1.4||6.47|
|10||15||May 30, 2018||5.35||September 10, 2018||5.69||2018||5.08||1.1||5.86|
|11||16||May 29, 2019||4.84||September 16, 2019||4.93||2019||TBA||TBA||4.93|
|12||Monday 8:00 pm
Monday 9:00 pm
Wednesday 9:00 pm
Friday 8:00 pm
|8||September 7, 2020||3.66||November 6, 2020||2.97||2020||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|13||Monday 8:00 pm
Monday 9:00 pm (3)
|12||May 31, 2021||September 13, 2021||2021||TBA||TBA||TBA|
In Australia and New Zealand, the show is broadcast on SBS2 (2013–2017), 9Go! (2018–present), TV3 and Four. On April 25, 2016, it was announced that Canadian broadcaster CTV picked up American Ninja Warrior for its 2016 summer broadcast schedule. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the show is broadcast on Challenge and more recently on Sky Two. In Israel, the show is broadcast on Yes Action with the American version, and on Keshet 12 with its own version. In 2016, Croatian RTL started broadcasting the show. The show is also shown in Finland on Sub-TV. In the Netherlands the show was first broadcast in 2017 on SBS 6, where their own Ninja Warrior NL has been broadcast. In Norway it is broadcast on TV2 Zebra. The show also airs in South Africa, on SABC 3, airing Sunday afternoons 13:30.
The show is in syndication markets throughout the US and airs on local broadcast channels. At one point syndicated episodes were airing on MTV2 on Saturdays in August 2018. On August 12, 2019, the series began airing reruns on Nickelodeon. However, after airing just 10 episodes, the series was abruptly pulled from Nick's schedule after August 23, 2019.
Ninja vs. Ninja
On October 9, 2015, Esquire Network announced a spin-off of American Ninja Warrior, which would feature 24 three-person teams (two men and one woman) of popular ANW alumni, initially titled Team Ninja Warrior. The teams compete head-to-head against each other, running the course simultaneously, thus creating a new live duel dynamic (including crossing points, where the two competitors can affect the other's progress.) The two teams with the fastest times advance to the finale, where one team will be crowned the winner and receive a cash prize. Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila host alongside actor and journalist, Alex Curry. The series is Esquire Network's most-watched program in the channel's history.
On May 31, 2016, Esquire Network ordered a sixteen-episode second season that also included a five-episode special college edition that had college-aged competitors go head-to-head against rival schools. On March 6, 2017, it was announced that Team Ninja Warrior will be moving to sibling cable channel USA Network as Esquire Network winds down its linear channel operations and relaunches as an online only service. The show's second season premiered proper on April 18. Ahead of its third season, the show was also re-titled American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs. Ninja.
American Ninja Warrior Junior
On May 2, 2018, the second spin-off of American Ninja Warrior—entitled American Ninja Warrior Junior— was announced. Premiered on Universal Kids on October 13, 2018, Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila reprised their roles from ANW as hosts, with Olympic 2016 gold medalist Elijah Browning joining as co-host, guiding competitors in head-to-head challenges. The series will feature 142 kids ages 9–14 competing along a course of miniature ANW obstacles such as the Sky hooks. Similar to ANW, males and females will run along the same course, and similarly to Ninja vs. Ninja and College Madness, competitors compete head-to-head. However, they will be divided into three age groups: 9–10, 11–12 and 13–14, with each category coached by fan-favorite athletes: Korey Kade, Lucas Gomes, Calle Alexander, Caleb Bergie, Danny Bergie, and Natalie Duran. In May 2021, it was announced that the third season would be moving to Peacock.
|American Ninja Warrior: Challenge|
|Developer(s)||Gaming Corps Austin|
A sports video game based on the series, titled American Ninja Warrior: Challenge, was released exclusively in North America on March 19, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It was developed by Gaming Corps Austin and published by GameMill Entertainment.
Obstacle and course creation
Alongside producers of the show, the course is designed, prototyped, fabricated, and constructed by The ATS Team (ATS), a production company and set shop based out of Los Angeles, California.
Since Season 4, each November producers begin collaborating creatively with ATS on which obstacles will be brought back and which obstacle positions need to be re-filled. From here, ideas are pitched by both parties. Also during this time, obstacle ideas submitted by fans and even from competitors of the show are reviewed through an "Obstacle Design Challenge." Winners of this challenge have had their obstacle featured on the course and previously have been granted tickets to the show with airline and hotel accommodations.
As new creative is being invented, the obstacles are tested internally with a group of athletes to ensure the ideas are strong enough for the show and determined where they should be positioned within the overall obstacle course grid. Obstacles in this grid are ranked and serve as the map for Regional Qualifiers, Regional Semi-Finals, and Series Finals to ensure difficulty and body core fairness amongst competitors.
Once the obstacles have been selected, they are loaded onto semi trucks for the national regional tour. This coordination amounts to 30+ tour shipment truck movements! When the trucks arrive the city locations they are unloaded and the TV set is constructed. The course is built within 3-4 days to allow for 2 days of more testing, tweaking, and camera rehearsals. The show is largely filmed within a few days time and accommodates 120-150 competitor capacity during a 12-hour period. The set is taken down within 2 days and loaded onto the trucks for the next city filming.
Meanwhile, the moment city one obstacles are loaded onto the trucks the creative for the Series Finals begins. While the main tour is occurring, the Series Finals prototype and fabrication stages commence at ATS' shop to create new and even bigger obstacles to test the best of the best competitors.
Typically held in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Series Finals set construction takes about 20 days including 6 days of initial earth moving and pool digging. This set is tested within 3 days and films for 2 days. On day 1, Stage 1 is filmed. On day 2, Stage 2, 3 and 4 are filmed. Additional days are added for any Specials that may also be scheduled. After filming, the main course is deconstructed in 2.5 days.
- Geoff Britten completed Stage 4 in 29.65 seconds out of a maximum of 30 seconds, while Isaac Caldiero completed Stage 4 in 26.14 seconds out of a maximum 30 seconds. As Caldiero completed Stage 4 faster than Britten, he was awarded the trophy and $1,000,000, and Britten was awarded the title of "First American Ninja Warrior."
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- 28th Producers Guild of America Awards nominees for "Outstanding Producer of Competition Television": Arthur Smith, Kent Weed, Anthony Storm, Brian Richardson, Kristen Stabile, David Markus, J.D. Pruess, D. Max Poris, Zayna Abi-Hashim, Royce Toni, John Gunn, Matt Silverberg, Briana Vowels, Mason Funk, Jonathan Provost.
- 29th Producers Guild of America Awards nominees for "Outstanding Producer of Competition Television": Arthur Smith, Kent Weed, Anthony Storm, Brian Richardson, Kristen Stabile, David Markus, Royce Toni, Stephen Saylor, J.D. Pruess, Jeffrey J. Hyman, D. Max Poris, Briana Vowels, and Jonathan Provost.
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