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Stage One of the National Finals: A side-by-side comparison through the years

A lot has changed since season four, and yet a lot has stayed the same.

American Ninja Warrior - season 11 Photo by: David Becker/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

American Ninja Warrior will bring back the National Finals for season 13. The show needed to skip those final four stages back in season 12 when the pandemic prevented the production from traveling.

For 2021, the classic finale to the show is back on! In fact, we’re heading out very soon to cover the recording of the National Finals in Las Vegas. We were just thinking about how the National Finals have changed over the years and decided to take a closer look.

American Ninja Warrior first introduced the National Finals back in season four. Prior to that, the show sent competitors to take part in the Sasuke competition in Japan as the end of the season. In 2012, the show created its own Mount Midoriyama in the desert just outside the Las Vegas Strip. Every season since (minus season 12) has culminated in this way.)

We took a look back at the first Stage One course, side by side with the most recent (2019) Stage One course. Oh, how things have changed! And yet, there are a lot of elements that have stayed the same. The changes reflect that our Ninjas have gained experience and need challenges. The similarities reflect that some classic elements just survive the test of time.

  • Season Four - 2012
    Stage One time limit: 2:10.00
  • Season 11 - 2019
    Stage One time limit: 2:30.00

2012 obstacle one - Step Slider

2019 obstacle one - Archer Alley

2012 obstacle two - Rolling Log

2019 obstacle two - Spin Your Wheels

2012 obstacle three - Giant Swing (It’s that square frame off to the right side.)

2019 obstacle three - Double Dipper

2012 obstacle four - Jumping Spider

2019 obstacle four - Jumping Spider

2012 obstacle five - Half-Pipe Attack

2019 obstacle five - Tire Run

2012 obstacle six - Warped Wall

2019 obstacle six - Warped Wall

2012 obstacle seven - Spinning Bridge

2019 obstacle seven - Diving Boards

2012 obstacle eight - Final Climb

(Sean didn’t make it to the Final Climb. You can get a glimpse of it in this screenshot. It’s off to the right-hand side. It was basically a cargo net climb.)

2019 obstacle eight - Twist and Fly

What do you think? Has Stage One changed a lot over the years, or has it stayed mostly the same?