The Cliffhanger (クリフハンガー) is one of the longest-enduring obstacles in SASUKE to date, having proven to be brutal throughout the history of SASUKE.

In essence, competitors must traverse through at least three narrow ledges, which are 3 cm wide, only long enough to support the fingertips. Since its introduction, it has 7 versions.

Version 1 (SASUKE 4)

The original version of Cliffhanger was introduced in SASUKE 4. Its actual name is 直線型クリフハンガー (literally Cliff Hanger straight version). Every ledge was at the same height, and each ledge was 1.2 meters long, and each gap was 50 centimeters long. It only lasted for the one tournament, as the producers increased the difficulty of each stage afterward due to Akiyama Kazuhiko's kanzenseiha in that competition. 5 people failed it. 

A toned-down version of this version of Cliffhanger was used as the sixth obstacle on Blue Stage (Second Stage) on KUNOICHI 9, with only two ledges instead of three, one of them being longer and both ledges were increased to 4.5 cm wide. The gap between the 1st and 2nd ledge is 60 cm.


Cliffhanger, KUNOICHI 9 Navi.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
4 5 10 50%
Total 5 10 50%


KUNOICHI Clears Attempts Percentage
9 1 1 100%
Total 1 1 100%

Version 2 (SASUKE 5~8)

The second version of Cliffhanger appeared in SASUKE 5, where the final ledge was raised 30 cm and was renamed as the 段差型クリフハンガー(literally Cliff Hanger Dropout section). Yamamoto Shingo was the only competitor to attempt this version more than once. He attempted and passed it in SASUKE 5 and SASUKE 7. 3 people failed it.

A toned-down version of this version of Cliffhanger was used as the fourth obstacle on BLACK Stage (Third Stage) on KUNOICHI 10, but with the removal of the first ledge, which made it similar to this version of the Cliffhanger. It was revealed that the ledges' thickness was reduced to 4 cm in that tournament. 

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
5 1 1 100%
6 1 2 50%
7 1 3 33.33%
8 3 3 100%
Total 6 9 66.67%


KUNOICHI Clears Attempts Percentage
10 2 3 66.67%
Total 2 3 66.67%

Cliffhanger Kai [Version 3] (SASUKE 9~17)

In the third version of Cliffhanger, the length of the first ledge was doubled, the second ledge raised by 30 cm, and the last ledge lowered by 45 cm. It was renamed again, this time as the Cliffhanger Kai (クリフハンガー改) (literally Altered Cliff Hanger). This version lasted the longest thus far of any iteration. In later competitions, the obstacle marked the halfway point and passing it was a major accomplishment.

The distance between the third ledge and the mat varied in it's entirety. In SASUKE 9, the mat was far from the third ledge, in SASUKE 10, 11, and 13 - 17 the mat was slightly underneath the third ledge and in SASUKE 12 the mat was barely past the 2nd gap, close enough to dismount after touching the 3rd ledge.

This was also used as the ninth obstacle in the American Ninja Warrior 5 Venice Finals, defeating all but a small group of competitors to make it that far. Those competitors to fail the Cliffhanger still received a spot in the Las Vegas finals, seeing as many competitors were also eliminated by the Salmon Ladder and Rope Maze.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
9 1 1 100%
10 1 2 50%
11 2 4 50%
12 5 9 52.56%
13 2 3 66.68%
14 2 5 40%
15 3 4 75%
16 3 7 42.86%
17 3 4 75%
Total 22 39 56.48%

Shin-Cliffhanger [Version 4] (SASUKE 18~24)

The fourth version of the Cliffhanger came after Nagano Makoto's completion of the course in SASUKE 17. It has been renamed once again, this time to the Shin-Cliffhanger (新クリフハンガー) to emphasize its redesign. The second ledge was shortened to 77 cm, but also on an incline of 12°. This caused the horizontal gap between the last two ledges to increase to 1 meter. To make up for this large gap, the width of the first part of the third ledge was increased to 6 cm. Also, the ledges have been beveled to increase the difficulty.

Due to the large gap, it seems that competitors must now clear the obstacle by jumping across from second ledge to the third one. The first person not to attempt a jump, Nagasaki Shunsuke, was not able to clear the obstacle. However, in SASUKE 23, Takahashi Kenji was able to successfully clear without jumping, being the only contestant to do so.

In SASUKE 19, a metal sheet was placed above the first and third ledges to prevent competitors from getting disqualified like Nagano Makoto in SASUKE 18. See Nagano Makoto's Disqualification.

This version of the Cliffhanger proved to be one of the toughest obstacles in the history of the show as the first four competitors to try it, all failed (spanning three tournaments). TBS showed testers clearing it in SASUKE 20 and SASUKE 21's introduction, but it wasn't until Takeda Toshihiro cleared it in SASUKE 21 that it was finally conquered in competition.


Takahashi Kenji reaching over the gap of the Shin-Cliffhanger. He is the only person to ever successfully do so.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
18 0 3 0%
19 0 0 N/A
20 0 1 0%
21 2 2 100%
22 2 4 50%
23 5 6 84.36%
24 7 7 100%
Total 16 23 68.52%

Ultimate Cliffhanger [Version 5] (SASUKE 25~27)

The fifth version of the Cliffhanger came after Urushihara Yuuji's completion of the course in SASUKE 24. It has been renamed once again, this time to the Ultimate Cliffhanger (アルティメットクリフハンガー) to emphasize its redesign. It is by far the largest and longest Cliffhanger to date, with a total of six ledges instead of three, double of any previous version. The obstacle first consists of two ledges. The first is 2 m and on a 24° angle and requires competitors to climb right, with a gap of 20 cm, the next is also 2 m and is on a 12° angle, requiring competitors to climb left. After that there is a 60 cm upwards vertical gap to the third ledge which is 3.2 m long. Competitors must then cross a 90 cm horizontal gap to another 1.2 m ledge. At the end of that, they must jump and catch themselves on a small 15 cm ledge. From there, they must swing to the final 2 m ledge and traverse that to complete the obstacle.

In its first tournament, SASUKE 25, the obstacle proved to be unbelievably difficult. All four competitors who attempted it failed before any could even touch the third ledge. In SASUKE 26 the third ledge was lowered to make the transition from the angled ledges easier but this resulted in making the transition to the fourth ledge much harder. To compensate for what would have been a 1.2 meter gap between the third and fourth ledges, the third ledge was also lengthened slightly to make it a gap more similar to the gap between the second and third ledges of the Second Version of the Cliffhanger. Also a large sheet of metal was placed at the base of the obstacle in order to hide the metal supports that were visible in SASUKE 25. Lee En-Chih and Okuyama Yoshiyuki, in their second attempts, made it to the end of the fourth ledge but failed while building momentum to swing to the small fifth ledge. Two American competitors, Brent Steffensen and David Campbell also made it to this obstacle. However, both of them failed while trying to transition to the fourth ledge.


Ultimate Cliffhanger in SASUKE 26 with the lowered third ledge.

In SASUKE 27, the obstacle was moved from its previous position as the fourth obstacle to the third obstacle. As a result, it was finally conquered by Hashimoto Koji in his second attempt and also completed by eventual Finalist Matachi Ryo and eventual two-time champion Urushihara Yuuji, both their first attempts of the obstacle. The obstacle was nearly cleared by David Campbell as well but his grip gave way on the final ledge, moments before he could reach the other side. Despite three competitors completed this obstacle in SASUKE 27, five competitors failed on this obstacle in that tournament, including all four remaining American competitors (James McGrath, Ryan Stratis, Paul Kasemir, and David Campbell) and SASUKE All-Stars, Nagano Makoto, who was the only All-Stars to attempt the Ultimate Cliffhanger. In total, 13 competitors failed on this version of Cliffhanger. 

American Ninja Warrior Appearances

Ultimate Cliffhanger ANW4

ANW4 Ultimate Cliffhanger

On American Ninja Warrior 4's finals course in Las Vegas, Brent Steffensen, who himself failed there in SASUKE 26, became the first American to beat the Ultimate Cliffhanger in competition and made history. On American Ninja Warrior 5, the ledges were made much larger than before. Instead of being 3 cm as they had been in Japan, they were increased to 2 and a quarter inches (5.7 cm) in thickness, making the obstacle much easier. As a result, Brian Arnold became the second American to beat the Ultimate Cliffhanger, nearly beating Stage Three. In the USA vs. Japan, Paul Kasemir (who failed on this obstacle in SASUKE 26) became the third to beat the Ultimate Cliffhanger, also nearly beating Stage Three. On American Ninja Warrior 6, Joe Moravsky became the fourth American to beat the Ultimate Cliffhanger and just the third person to complete the Ultimate Cliffhanger in national competition. 

On American Ninja Warrior 7, the obstacle was heavily modified. The first three ledges were positioned identically to before but now had gaps in between them, while the fourth and fifth ledges remained the same. However, the sixth ledge, as opposed to being lower down than the fifth ledge, was equally as high, and it was now impossible to reach the landing mat from that ledge. Instead, similar to the Crazy Cliffhanger, competitors would have to jump to a final ledge facing opposite to the main wall which is 2 inches wide as opposed to only 1 inch, and from there they are able to reach the landing mat. However, unlike the Crazy Cliffhanger, competitors are allowed to face the final ledge when making the transition (as the controversial rule was not established). Even so, the obstacle caused havoc as half the remaining field in Stage Three was eliminated on this obstacle, including Joe Moravsky (who had cleared the obstacle in the previous tournament), who chose the traditional method of transition to the final ledge. Despite that, 4 competitors completed this obstacle, which was the largest number of Ultimate Cliffhanger's completion during American Ninja Warrior's regular season. 

On American Ninja Warrior 8, the obstacle was once again modified. The first four ledges were the same as on American Ninja Warrior 7. But, under the fourth ledge, there was a small ledge as a foothold, in order to ease the transition to the next ledge (first hanging board; the transition was similar as in Spider Flip). After that, competitors must make a transition to the next ledge (second hanging board), then transit back to the final ledge, making this version of Ultimate Cliffhanger was similar to the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger with two transitions across the water. Only Drew Drechsel completed the obstacle, while Daniel Gil failed the transition to the second hanging board.  


Ultimate Cliffhanger, ANW 8

On Ninja Warrior UK and Ninja Warrior Sweden, a variant of the obstacle unofficially named the "Miska Cliffhanger" has appeared. This version features radically different ledge placement compared to the SASUKE and American Ninja Warrior versions, with a greater emphasis on diagonal ledges and long jumps. So far, no-one has attempt the version shown in Ninja Warrior UK due to being replaced by the Crazy Cliffhanger in the third season, although international competitor: Alexander Mars failed there in the first season of Ninja Warrior Sweden.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
25 0 4 0%
26 0 4 0%
27 3 8 40.8%
Total 3 16 18.75%

American Ninja Warrior

ANW Clears Attempts Percentage
ANW4 1 1 100%
ANW5 1 1 100%
USA vs. Japan 4 5 80%
ANW6 1 1 100%
USA vs. The World 7 7 100%
ANW7 4 8 50%
ANW8 1 2 50%
Total 19 25 76%

Crazy Cliffhanger [Version 6] (SASUKE 28~31)

During the SASUKE RISING Navi, the preview of the Third Stage saw a new incarnation of the Cliffhanger, known as the Crazy Cliffhanger (クレイジークリフハンガー). The first wall consists of three ledges, the first and third being equally high off the ground but the second having been raised by 30 cm, almost identical to the Cliffhanger Kai (SASUKE 9-17 version, Version 3). However, the third Ledge has been shortened to a point where the competitor cannot reach safety from it. Opposite the third Ledge is another wall with a fourth ledge. The competitor must maintain momentum and jump from the Third to the Fourth Ledge similar to the Spider Flip, and only then can they transfer to the safety pad. Unlike the Shin and Ultimate Cliffhangers, the ledge that must be jumped onto is not wider than the other ledges, making the transition more difficult.

For its first three tournaments, four competitors, (Morimoto Yūsuke, Kawaguchi Tomohiro, Kishimoto Shinya, Matachi Ryo) cleared this obstacle (first clear in SASUKE 29, three in SASUKE 30). While weight plays an important role in every version of Cliffhanger, this version seems to be based more on the weight of the competitor rather than technique or stamina due to the style of the last ledge transition. Asa Kazuma and Kanno Hitoshi who had practiced this obstacle, were not that fatigued, however they failed to keep themselves on the 4th ledge, mostly due to their weight. On the contrary, Morimoto Yūsuke, who had struggled with the Iron Paddler compared to the other third stage competitors in SASUKE 29, cleared this version rather easily, using his light-weight body to his advantage. In SASUKE 31, the distance of the third to the opposing fourth ledge is revealed to be 1.8m, though it was already mentioned since SASUKE 28.

Crazy Cliffhanger showing the jump from the 3rd to 4th ledge.

For SASUKE 30, the Crazy Cliffhanger was moved to the 4th obstacle position, its spot being replaced by the Drum Hopper.

In SASUKE 31, a very unusual rule was added in which competitors are not allowed to face the 4th ledge while transitioning from the 3rd. See Drew Drechsel's Crazy Cliffhanger Disqualification.

SASUKE 31 also saw Asa's fourth consecutive failure on the obstacle, Kanno finally clearing after his fourth consecutive attempt (and being just the fifth overall clear) and Morimoto being the only competitor to clear the obstacle twice. 18 people failed it.

American Ninja Warrior Appearances

An alternate version of the obstacle was used in St. Louis finals on American Ninja Warrior 6, in which instead of three ledges going to the right then having to jump to the other side, there is one ledge going to the right then two small ledges to help get to the other ledge.

The Crazy Cliffhanger appeared in Houston finals on American Ninja Warrior 7, looking almost similar to the SASUKE version, but instead of four ledges, there were six ledges in which the first five ledges are on one side and the last ledge on the opposing side. Competitors can also face the opposing ledge when making the transition unlike in the SASUKE version that competitors are not allowed to do it (as the controversial rule was not established). The distance of the fifth and the last ledges are 4 ft. It was also used in the third season of Ninja Warrior UK

Crazy Cliffhanger

The Crazy Cliffhanger from St. Louis finals of American Ninja Warrior 6

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
28 0 3 0%
29 1 4 25%
30 3 9 33.33%
31 2 8 25%
Total 6 24 25%

Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger [Version 7] (SASUKE 32~)

The Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger (ウルトラクレイジークリフハンガー) was first seen via Inui's twitter and then the SASUKE 32's Navi after Morimoto Yusuke's kanzenseiha. It was modified after the Crazy Cliffhanger, however unlike the Crazy Cliffhanger, it only has three ledges. The catch is that competitors have to make two transitions similar to the Crazy Cliffhanger. The second ledge curves so as to increase the difficulty. The third ledge, where the second transition has to be made, is a moving ledge that goes up and down by 90cm. It was also tied together with the Vertical Limit Kai without any breaks to make the Third Stage's second half more difficult as a whole. However, unlike the Shin, Ultimate, and Crazy Cliffhangers, this obstacle was successfully completed in its introductory tournament, with Drew Drechsel managing to become the first competitor to clear it. However, no one managed to clear it in the next tournament as Drew Drechsel, the only person to attempt it in the tournament fell in the second transition with the moving ledge starting to move up.

Screenshot (34)

Internal view of the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger.

Competitors' Success Rate

  • All results based on the TBS broadcast and external information found
SASUKE Clears Attempts Percentage
32 1 3 33.3%
33 0 1 0%
Total 1 4 25%


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