The Top 6 Most Grueling Fictional Competitions

Celaena Sardothien, the main character in Sarah J. Maas’s new novel, Throne of Glass, has spent the last year slaving away as a prisoner in the salt mines. Her one shot at freedom? Compete in a tournament to become the next royal assassin. Since Celaena’s an awesome warrior, she actually enjoys the competition. But we can’t help thinking that the whole thing sounds a little intimidating, especially when Celaena’s competitors start dropping dead left and right.

Competing for the title of best assassin is probably a little harder than winning your average reality show. And we can think of a few other fictional tournaments that would push us to our limits. Which of these fictional competitions is the most grueling? Vote below!


The Gladiator Games in Gladiator
To be fair, the gladiator games aren’t entirely fictional—they’re based on ancient Roman competitions. But the games in the Ridley Scott movie are way more gruesome than the actual historical fights. In real life, it was pretty rare for a gladiator to be killed in the coliseum. The fictional gladiator games? Total bloodbath.



The War Simulator in Ender’s Game
As part of his military training, teenaged Ender has to play a tactical video game over and over again. The war-training game is completely exhausting, and Ender has to break rules and kill enemies in order to win. At least it’s only a video game. Or is it?



The Race in The Scorpio Races
Imagine you’re a contestant in a super competitive horse race. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Now imagine your horse wants to kill you. Not so much fun. Only one person can win the Scorpio Races, and the carnivorous demon water horses mean high stakes and a ton of blood. The Kentucky Derby, it’s not.



The Games in The Hunger Games
There’s no denying that the Hunger Games are a brutal competition. The idea of watching children fight and kill each other for the entertainment is pretty sick. Throw in the fact that the rules are constantly changing and the grand prize is pretty much just not dying . . . yeah, that’s got to suck.



The Program in Battle Royale
This Japanese book/film actually has a lot in common with The Hunger Games. Tournament orchestrated by an oppressive government? Check. Teenagers fighting to the death? Check. The one good thing we can say about this competition: It’s not being broadcast on national television. But that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.



The Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Even by Wizarding standards, the Triwizard Tournament is pretty dangerous. From fighting dragons to battling merpeople to navigating a deadly maze, the competition is chock-full of potentially lethal situations. When you add a duel with the most powerful Dark wizard of all time, well—let’s just say it would take a LOT of galleons to get us to enter.


So which of these tournaments would be the biggest test of your endurance? Cast your vote for the most grueling fictional competition below, and let us know in the comments which ones we missed!

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11 thoughts on “The Top 6 Most Grueling Fictional Competitions

  1. Being in the Maze Runner series. Being trapped in a huge concrete maze filled with vicious traps is bad enough. Now throw in that you have to explore it every, getting back to the safety of the Glade, the safe center part of the Maze. Oh yeah, and the maze is inhabited by horrible, biomechanical monsters known as Grievers, which would do anything to kill the kids who hide in the glade. For extra challenge, the kids memories are wiped up to when they’re brought into the maze in a giant elevator, and they have no idea what’s happening, or why. That sounds like a pretty grueling test.

  2. Actually, in Ender’s Game Ender starts the book at six years old, when he begins his training. They ship six year olds off to space to study military training, but they are not playing a video game. They are actually physically executing military strategy in zero gravity and fighting against opposing teams. It is true that nobody really dies but the game is more like laser tag then a video game. It takes a great physical and mental toll on the characters and is no way fake. One of the most important part of Ender’s Game is that Ender is a child and still feels emotions the way that children do but he is forced to deal with adult things and make adult decisions. Also there are no rules in war, just new ways of innovating and thinking that Ender creates that other people don’t like.

    Now, near the end of the book when Ender is playing a different game that one is simulated and he does have to play it over and over, but Ender is still a child. I believe that he is eleven to thirteen in that part.

  3. Most people will be biased to The Hunger Games, and, I admit, it is a pretty horrific competition, but the way Collins wrote it, I wouldn’t say it’s the most grueling of the six choices. The War Simulator in Ender’s Game tore the children apart much more than HG survivors ever were. They were much younger, more naive and impressionable, and they were tricked into killing.

    Also, I agree with Ethan, why is the Maze Runner not on here??

  4. I don’t recognise many of these, but The Program in Battle Royale is way worse than The Hunger Games. In the Games, you’re killing strangers and only 1 person you may know.

    In The Program, you need to kill everyone in your class. Imagine that – people you’ve been with for years, probably some friends, too. And you have to kill them or be killed BY them. That would be worse than killing or not killing strangers. Also, while The Hunger Games can last for weeks, The Program requires the battle to be finished in… I forgot… 2-3 days. You need to kill other classmates and friends in 2-3 days.

    If anyone thinks any of the others are worse than the Hunger Games, you should share your opinion~

  5. Though nobody has ever heard of this, the Black Tattoo. Esme has to literally fight in a tournament in Hell. Against demons.
    Also note that a)Pretty much every kid in Ender’s Game was a nutjob b) they weren’t randomly selected c)They could have walked out/weren’t fighting for their lives d)They killed an entire alien species and e) *SPOILER ALERT* Ender (at least) knew what he was doing. This was not revealed in the main series but it was by Bean in the Shadow series, so don’t say it was never revealed.

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