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Naked and Afraid is a reality show like none other. The Discovery Channel series drops pairs of people into remote locations and leaves them to fend for themselves – without food, water, or clothing. With just one survival tool each (such as a machete or fire starter), they’re challenged to last 21 days in the wild. 

Unsurprisingly, many people don’t make it the full three weeks. Medical crises, loneliness, and hunger have all prompted people to tap out early. But thankfully, no person’s Naked and Afraid journey has been cut short for the most serious reason of all: death. 

No one has died on ‘Naked and Afraid’ 

Two 'Naked and Afraid' contestants standing on cliff with their backs to the camera. Fans wonder if anyone has died on the show.
‘Naked and Afraid’ | Discovery Channel

Naked and Afraid cast members are put into some serious, and potentially dangerous, situations. Over 15 seasons (plus multiple spinoffs, such as the currently airing competition series Naked and Afraid: Last One Standing) participants have dealt with tropical illnesses, infected wounds, hypothermia, and more. But no one has ever died on Naked and Afraid

While Naked and Afraid survivalists have to fend for themselves on the show, they’re not totally alone in the wilderness. There’s a camera crew documenting their adventure. And there’s also a medic who can step in when a cast member is injured or sick. They’ll assess the situation and either clear the person to continue or decide that they must leave the challenge for their own safety. 

For example, Gwen Grimes made an early exit from  Naked and Afraid: Last One Standing when a medical check revealed she had dangerously high blood pressure. In the same episode, Amber Hargrove developed signs of hypothermia and was also forced to tap out. Sometimes, the reason for a medical tap-out isn’t physical. Ryan Eacret, who appeared on Naked and Afraid XL in 2020, was medically tapped after he started showing signs of serious depression.

Matt Wright nearly lost his foot to flesh-eating bacteria on ‘Naked and Afraid XL’ 

In some cases, the Naked and Afraid medics might provide limited medical care that allows the person to return to the competition. In a 2021 episode of Naked and Afraid XL, one survivalist cut his scrotum after tumbling off a tree branch. The medic offered him a choice. The cast member could tap out and get stitches in a clinic. Or he could get the stitches done there. That would allow him to stay on the show, but it came with a risk of infection. He chose the latter.  

Matt Wright had an even more gruesome experience on Naked and Afraid XL in 2017. A random bug bite on his foot quickly developed into an open sore. The medics weren’t sure what to make of it. They gave him antibiotics and sent a sample to a lab for testing. When the results came back, they weren’t good. 

“Before you know it, I had some incredibly rare, flesh-eating bacteria — something you’d see on Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me — that was eating away at the flesh on my toes on my one foot at a pretty excessive rate,” Wright told Westword

Within minutes of being told about the infection, Wright was forced to tap out and transported to a local hospital several hours away. Had he not received treatment, he could have lost his foot or leg, and possibly even his life. Still, he said the 20-day stay in the Ecuadorian hospital was harder than his time in the jungle. 

‘Naked and Afraid’ medics are armed against predators   


Jeff Zausch of ‘Naked and Afraid: Last One Standing’ Is Playing to Win: ‘This Throne Only Has Room for One’

Given the remote locations where Naked and Afraid is filmed, animal attacks are a very real concern. Unsurprisingly, the show’s crew and medics are prepared in case things take a dangerous turn. 

“For reality shows that are as extreme as Naked and Afraid, a lot of the medics in my division are armed in case we have to fight off animals,” medic Elizabeth Hammons told WVNS in 2019. 

Hammons also said that she and her fellow medics are prepared to give life-saving care to the show’s participants. 

“We’re also armed with advanced life support techniques and we kind of go above and beyond for that with the ability to suture and give antibiotics,” she said. 

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