OUCH! History’s ‘Kings Of Pain’ Totally Bites

© 2012 History. Credit: Damien Maloney/HISTORY.

In 1983, entomologist Dr. Justin O. Schmidt sacrificed his body for science and purposely got bitten and stung by a wide variety of nasty insects. Schmidt’s book, The Sting of the Wild, described his pain responses and measured the intensity on a scale of 1-4.

More than 35 years later, wildlife biologist Adam Thorn and professional animal handler Rob “Caveman” Alleva are trying to expand on Schmidt’s ideas by measuring the pain inflicted not only by insects, but also by arachnids, reptiles, aquatic creatures and just about anything else most of us were taught to fear. The duo has created a 30-point index that measures the pain intensity and duration, and bodily damage inflicted by each animal. Not-so-squeamish viewers can watch Thorn and Alleva suffer for our entertainment and/or enlightenment in their new eight-part docuseries Kings of Pain (Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT beginning Nov. 12).

“These are animals that aren’t necessarily deadly, but you’ll feel like you’re dying,” Thorn says of the criteria for selecting the creatures. “They inflict a lot of pain, but the risk of dying is quite low. They’re animals that people encounter quite a bit, as well. That’s why we want to do the pain index, so that when people do encounter one of these animals or get stung by one of these animals, they know exactly what to expect, how long they can expect it for and if it’s going to leave them with any damage.”

Even though these animals can really hurt you, it doesn’t mean that they always will. Thorn and Alleva discovered that getting stung on purpose isn’t as easy as it appears. “That was actually our biggest challenge,” Alleva says. “The tarantula was really reluctant at first, because we were using the wrong method. We were putting it on top of our arm, and it thought it was just sitting on a log. Like, ‘OK, I’m just chilling.’ But as soon as we put our arm on the same level plane as the tarantula and moved toward it, then it saw a threat and then it bit. A lot of the times, the animal just wants to get away. And sometimes we had to go through a learning process of how to get bitten, which is so counterintuitive to what we normally do.”

Kings of Pain is not for the fainthearted, and obviously one shouldn’t attempt this at home. Thorn and Alleva are closely monitored by medical staff with specialized training in treating animal bites, and the health observations are recorded for research.


  1. I agree with you. It’s a joke and caveman is such a drama queen. Half the time he doesn’t even get bit or stung. It’s all a joke.

  2. Do they set the animals free in their natural habitat after they bite or sting. Worried about the animals.

  3. As a medical professional I find the show to have a distinct purpose in not just documenting the level of pain but to ensure that reaction and treatment is also documented. It may be difficult to understand the sacrifice of those 2 men on the show, but it does not get lost for rescuers and researchers. I applaud the History channel!

  4. I must disagree with the other comments. We find the show entertaining & educational. I believe Adam & Rob have fun personalities and make for an entertaining show.

  5. I have no choice, I will have to cancel my history channel, too bad, I like most of the other shows, but idiots of pain make me sick!

  6. This program, if you want call it that should be charged with animal cruelty, has to be the top worst show I have ever seen, I hope kids don’t get the wrong idea and do something stupid like them!

  7. I would like to see these idiots slap a bear or a alligator, and show us the result, maybe they will go back to delivering newspapers, they don’t seem to be very bright!

  8. This rips off of Coyote Peterson’s BRAVE WILDERNESS. I hope he sues the shit out of these ugly dipshits.

  9. You want to be Kings of Pain, then you bastards should g through the same situation my husband has had to endure for 40 years. December 1979 my husband is a repairman for AT&T. He had a telephone pole collapse with him 18 feet up. Why he was not paralyzed is a miracle. However, he has endured 6 back surgeries and dozens of spinal injections. He has always managed his pain medicine to the “T”. He even had his doctor take him off his medicine for a month to see if the pain was still and 100% level. Even with this injury, he still worked until 1996 at AT&T. After retiring from his job, he did not become a couch potato. He would Sub at schools during school year. He worked with a catering company. He never has once OD on his meds. He keeps himself active to help manage the pain. the reason his level is so high is the nerves in his lower spin are constantly sending PAIN to his brain. I do not give a damn what you sting yourself with, you will NEVER know the true meaning of pain. My husband is the King of Pain. I know we have been together for 39 years. Plus on top of all of your crap is that you have immediate medical relief as soon as your feel your first zip of pain. The true reality of pain you will never know.

    • I don’t think these guys really think they are the “ kings of pain”. It’s just a show to show ppl what its like to get bit, stung by these animals that ppl are somewhat likely to encounter. So if they do get bit or stung, what can they can inspect. So don’t be a literal asshole about it. Sorry about that horrible accident your husband endured but don’t turn it into pissing contest on real pain is. It’s just two guys making a pain index. Don’t like the show don’t watch it

  10. I also choose not to watch this show. It is only a matter of time for some young people to try to do this at home……not good.

  11. Incredibly terrible choice of programming for the History Channel. When the ads for it come on I immediately change the channel and rarely go back to what I was watching. It is far below the standard that I expect for this channel

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About Ryan Berenz 2120 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife