Is Running Man Scripted


Since its first episode way back in 2010, Running Man has been churning out excellent and hilarious episodes week in, week out. What's even more amazing is the fact that the producers of the show continue to develop and come out with new ideas for every new episode, including giving the members superpowers (ep 74) and more recently the brilliant reincarnation episode (ep. 130). These episodes have set Running Man apart as a typical variety show, and have kept fans coming back for more every single week.

But over the course of the 130 episodes so far, there have been detractors who are quick to claim that Running Man is scripted. In a variety show, the word 'script' is deadly. Fans tune in to variety shows for the spontaneity and the natural interaction of the cast members. It's understandable too; if they wanted to watch a show with a script, why not just watch a drama? 

Almost like a horror drama. 

Some of the arguments about why Running Man is scripted include: how would a variety show be able to run smoothly if not for the production team and the writers giving instructions to the members? It's no secret that Running Man has its own writers, as mentioned by the members occasionally, so there must be parts of the show which are scripted. Many may think that scripting spoils the variety concept of Running Man but in fact, it helps keep things going. I think that scripting is vital for the flow of an episode, as long as it's not overdone. 

Generally, from my observation of various episodes, the opening is almost always scripted. This is because the members have to introduce the landmarks, and to introduce the guests who are appearing on the show, and it would not look good if they make a mistake through ad-libbing. I also believe that the team selection is almost always planned. I mean, if you consider it, all the high profile guests are almost always in the same team as Yoo Jae-suk. Securing screentime is very important on a variety show and being with MC Jae-suk does significantly increase the guest's screentime. The games and the theme of the episode is also definitely scripted. The producers and the writers come up with game ideas, and concepts like the Superpower episode and Reincarnation episode which make Running Man much more enjoyable to watch.

But once the games and the race starts though, that's when the scripting stops. The members then turn on their characters (Lee Kwang-soo portraying the Icon of Betrayal, Kim Jong-kook as the overbearing but powerful Commander, Gary as Gary, etc...) and run out the entire episode without the need to follow any sort of script. A lot of the interactions between the Running Man members is largely natural and unscripted, as the members have been shown to be extremely close offscreen as well. The outcome from the games and races may seem scripted, but as many of the guests who have come on Running Man can attest to, the final victory is up to the members, not the production team.

Let me give you an example. In episode 130, Suk Jin pulled off one of the biggest surprises in Running Man history. The weakest member among the Running Men mustered up all his strength and ripped off the Commander's nametag, a move that no one could have seen coming. Immediately after the episode, some people have gone to the forums to proclaim that "Hey, this is too much! It's so obvious that it's totally scripted." I disagree. I highly doubt that the writers or the production team instructed Kim Jong-kook to let Suk-jin tear off his nametag. No one, not even Suk-jin himself could believe that he actually tore off the Commander's nametag. The look of surprise on his face as he held the prized nametag aloft is proof enough of this fact. 

But of course, there is always an exception to the rule. The best example of Running Man overdoing the scripting can be found in the Big Bang Special (ep 84-85). It was extremely obvious that the Running Man members were purposely hanging back from tearing the Big Bang members. HaHa letting G-Dragon escape while pretending not to notice him was funny the first time around, but when he did it a second and a third time, it became quite annoying.

Perhaps the production team didn't want to invoke the wrath of the Big Bang fans out there by seeing their beloved idols get outed so quickly, but the scripting in both episodes really spoiled it for the true Running Man fans.

Variety shows like Running Man are there to make us, the audience laugh. That is the main goal of a variety show. Even the Running Man members sometimes mention that losing the game 'for the sake of variety' is well worth it. The characters that the members adopt while filming may not fit their characters in real life, but again, it's all for the sake to bring laughs. We wouldn't be able to enjoy the laughably weak Kwang-soo and his betrayal DNA if not for Running Man. 

And I highly doubt that Gary will be able to show off his peaceful and naive side if he never joined Running Man (his persona in LeeSsang is extremely cool). 

In the end, scripting may be a taboo topic to discuss when it comes to variety shows like Running Man but it is definitely necessary for the show to run smoothly. Without that little bit of scripting, we may not even have as many laughs. There will still be people on the forums loudly proclaiming 'THIS IS ALL SCRIPTED!', and there will be a war of words between them and the Running Man faithful. But in the end, all we need to do is sit down and laugh our heads off at the brilliance that is Running Man.

What do you think about scripting in Running Man? Leave a comment below.


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  1. yes, i agree with you. It is of course scripted at the 'part of introducing the guest , but once the game started it does not scripted anymore. I've
    remember those episode that the guest said "she was amazed because its not scripted at all".

  2. Thanks for sharing your insight. I've wondered about whether the episodes were scripted or not. I watched Episode 362, the one with Kang Ha Neul and Park Seo Joon. Without revealing any spoilers here, I was quite shocked by the ending. It was such a masterpiece. The episode was very fulfilling to watch. Having read your blog post, I can say that I'm open to the possibility that the episodes were in fact scripted. But it would be fun to just get lost in the episode and believe that the events really unfolded that way. Variety shows are really just for fun.


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