Fantasy geeks, history buffs, and master craftsmen alike have loved the History Channel's reality show Forged in Fire, putting blacksmiths of varying skill levels against each other for a $10,000 cash prize. These master forgers spend three rounds crafting intricate blades in a short amount of time, trying to prove that they really have what it takes.
But how real is the show? Is Forged in Fire fake?
Is 'Forged in Fire' real or fake?
The answer to this question isn't as simple as viewers would like it to be. It's no secret that reality television isn't always "real' — multiple shows are known for scripting certain scenes or reshooting shots, making the experience less genuine than viewers would hope for from a program that's intended to be realistic.
But according to some former contestants, there are a lot of components of the show that are very much real.
Reddit user /rdeker posted about his experience on the show and confirmed that while he couldn't spill all of the details, the show definitely keeps it a little bit realistic.
For example, the time constraints on the projects are very real. We know the editing process condenses hours of work into just a few minutes of film, but contestants actually only get three hours to complete the first round.
"[It] can really screw with some folks," /rdeker wrote. "Oh, and there's no stopping the clock for the epoxy to fully set, but there is a selection of epoxy in the shop ... You have to make smart decisions at every opportunity."
Considering the circumstances the contestants are working under, the Reddit user also admitted that the blacksmiths don't usually create their best work while on the show.
"There are a lot of factors at play when you're doing the competition. You're in an unfamiliar shop and can't find anything, the equipment isn't what you're used to, the materials and specifications may throw you a curveball, there are camera operators everywhere, and there's a three-hour clock ticking down," he wrote. "Then, after the fact, they have to edit it to make good TV (though they really do a decent job of not making everything seem overly dramatic), and most importantly they have to fit each three-hour round into several minutes. A lot gets left on the cutting room floor."
That being said, the final products shown at the time of judging seem to be the competitors' actual work. There's some debate as to whether or not it's actually the created blades that are shown when they're being tested for sharpness and effectiveness, though /rdeker has not revealed how much of the competition might be faked.
Do the competitors keep the blades?
You would think that the contestants would get to keep the blades they make on the show, but the reality is that all items crafted on Forged in Fire have to be turned over at the end of the competitor's run, meaning all of their blades are left behind. This is likely for legal and safety reasons, as the blades are dangerous (whether or not they're sharpened), and it wouldn't be ethical to have the creators travel home with weapons in their possession.
Forged in Fire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on History.