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10 Revolutionary Concepts that Running Man Introduced to Variety/Game Shows

Updated on September 29, 2019

Running Man is one of the most revolutionary variety/game show in the world. You read that right, it is one of the most revolutionary in the game show in the world. In fact, the whole concept of the show is new. The closest competition it has is Infinite Challenge (IC) but not quite. IC's format does not require the members to "compete" every episode. Even in the US, there isn't an existing show that may be compared to Running Man.

It has introduced so many new concepts that will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to surpass.From revolutionary concepts to advanced game executions, Running Man has definitely elevated variety game show in the world. I won't be surprised if Hollywood, one day, creates a show inspired by Running Man. In fact, there has never been a successful variety game-based show after Running Man simply because it is hard to surpass.

Below are the 10 things that Running Man created that has never been found in other variety shows in other countries.

Do you remember the classic wet towel gag? What about the now legendary "relaxing" tea episode? Click here and relive some of Running Man's funniest moments.

1) Nametag Ripping

It may have been inspired by the names of athlets that are usually written on the back of their uniforms. That's pure speculation. Regardless, it remains a unique concept in variety show.

It is the main game of Running Man, the objective is to tear off the nametag stuck on the back of the player. The tag may be ripped in different ways such as a head on match or by sneaking at the back of the player.

This has also been reinvented many times. This means that the concept of nametag being "removed" has been executed different ways:

  • Jaesuk's Yoomes Bond that sprays the tag with a green ink
  • sticking the nametag instead of ripping it off
  • writing the name of the opponent on a blank tag instead of ripping it
  • finding some object that grants the power to remotely remove the nametag

There are other but the objective is the same, you remove the nametag = you eliminate the player.


  • This is now used by kids as a standard children's game in Korea. All over the country, there are establishments that sell blank nametags or customize nametags.
  • Almost every guest that go on the show wants to do the nametag ripping game.
  • Nametag ripping has been "the identity" of Running Man.

Do you think Kim Jong Kook's and Choo Sung Hoon's nametag ripping one on one is the best of all? Click here and share your thoughts.

2) Live Superpowers in Games

No other live show in the world has successfully executed a game variety/game show where the members had superpowers. There are game shows that give players "advantages" but only Running Man gives the players superpowers and executes it live.

The very first superpower episode was 74, Running Mans Christmas Episode. The production team decided what powers to give each member and executed the powers live during the game.

The PDs later on revealed it was inspired by the American TV series "Heroes".


  • Approaching their fifth year, the members still refer to their superpowers.
  • Even in other shows, the concept has been so powerful and popular that it is being mentioned.
  • Superpower as a concept has been tapped in their biggest episodes including the ones where they have big-named stars, athletes and monumental dates

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3) Spies and Counterspies

X-Men was the first show to create a "spy" in an episode. However, Running Man innovated it. While X-Men cast members knew there is a spy in the show, that is not the case in Running Man. More often than not, the production team keeps it from cast members. The non-spies will only discover it at the end of the episode or if they observe it and make their own deductions.

It is arguable who is the best spy in the team. Some will say it is Song Ji Hyo, others will say go for Haha or Yoo Jae Suk. However, the very first spy was the Nation's MC, Yoo Jae Suk in his very first Yoomes Bond episode. Without the knowledge of the other members, he was tasked to take out each member by spraying water on their nametag.

Eventually, the spy concept has evolved which included assigning a spy and a counter spy.

Do you think Running Man would have been successful had it not been for Yoo Jae Suk? Click here.


  • In almost every episode, members suspect that there is a spy among them
  • Even Infinite Challenge has tried doing their own spy episodes

4) Non Linear Storytelling

Probably one of the most brilliant concepts Running Man has ever pulled, the Zombie episode started the game in the middle, when the members were already trapped in the building and are struggling to go out as they search for the reason they are trapped and a way to go out.

After several of them are ousted and the members speculate there is no guest, it is revealed that one of them is a zombie. The events leading to the present are then revealed parallel to the present time.


  • Since the zombie episode, Running Man has continued to play with the concept of "time" in their episodes. In fact, their third best of the best centered on the concept of time.
  • To date, no other variety show has successfully "played with time" in their show.

5) Recurring Nemesis

Although variety shows often establish rivalries among members and have returning guests that pick up from where they left off, Running Man is the only show that has successfully established an official nemesis.

Choi Min Soo started his rivalry with Yoo Jae Suk when the national MC betrayed him after establishing an alliance. Choi vowed to return on the show and get Yoo Jae Suk. He did. However, Yoo Jae Suk claimed that they are now even and Choi may come back on a show to decide the winner. Choi did and has since become the most feared guest on the show.


Almost all variety shows in Korea never really played with the concept of a nemesis, until Running Man. Now, shows like Real Men are experimenting on establishing a feared rival against their members.

Do you think Choi Min Soo is the best Running Man guest? Do you lean towards Jung Yong Hwa or Jackie Chan? Click here.

6) Live Horror Concepts

Shows like Family Outing and 1N2D have brushed horror for their shows but no one has done a full blown horror episode using established horror characters and concepts.

Running Man did it first in Zombie where one member turned into a zombie and "embraced" other members. The production team successfully established an eerie aura that even the cast members started feeling scared to the point of screaming to the top of their lungs when they see anything remotely connected to ghosts.

They did it again with the help of Choi Min Soo when he returned to hunt the whole cast.


Infinite Challenge did a horror episode but it was executed as well as Running Man did.

7) Mystery Love Story

Again playing with the concept of time, Running Man officially became the first show to create a "mystery love story" concept.

Lovelines and couple games are common in Korea but Running Man innovated couple games by creating a cerebra game. Leaving clues, the members are left to figure out who are the couple among them.


Since First Love, there hasn't been any new "couple concept" episodes in new or long-running variety shows.

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8) Reincarnation

Still in the concept of time, Running Man is the first game show to use reincarnation as the whole concept of their episode. In their third best of the best episode, Running Man members were reincarnated as another member and had to play the part of the other member. I know it's not that easy to grasp and the members agree to that.

The members were left to find out who they were reincarnated as and also find the body that has their soul.


The concept is highly cerebral that prompted so many news agency to say that Running Man has proven to be the most unpredictable variety show in Korea.

9) Betrayers

As mentioned previously, X-Men is the first show to use the concept of spy but Running Man is the first to establish characters that are official betrayers of the show. Unlike the others on this article, the betrayer concept was spearheaded by the cast members. Haha was the first one to think of betraying the other members on his team. Lee Kwang Soo and Ji Suk Jin have since joined the club.


Even when they appear on other shows, these three members carry with them the image of being a betrayer.

10) Odd Lovelines

Lovelines are common in Korean entertainment but couples are usually made of two beautiful people. Running Man is the first one to have a loveline, and extremely popular one at that, where the guy is established to be "ugly" and the girl is stunningly beautiful.

Monday Couple is one of the most popular lovelines in Korea even after the two repeatedly clarified that the loveline is just for the show. Many lovelines in RM have followed and most of them are "awkward".


This loveline has inspired Korea to become more open to celebrities that may not have the looks but have the talent and/or charm.


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    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i am a great fan of runningman, I watched every episode. I love the monday couple


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