Created By: Twentington on November 13, 2010 Last Edited By: Twentington on November 13, 2010


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May need a better name. Is this tropeable? This was inspired by a discussion on the Wheel of Fortune article.

Many Game Shows, once they take off and become enduring hits, will try to add new gameplay elements to the show to keep it fresh and interesting. Sometimes, these new elements will work; other times, they just don't for one reason or another. Maybe they weren't fully fleshed out, or maybe they just weren't that interesting. Most of the time, these elements are also retired without a single mention after the fact, making this a game show-specific subtrope of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.


  • The Price Is Right began with only a very small amount of pricing games, and has constantly taken games in and out of rotation over time. One of the first to be retired was an untitled game unofficially called "Bullseye '72", which was retired because it was Unwinnable. Another notable example is Professor Price, which was retired after only two playings because its setup had almost nothing to do with the show's core format of identifying prices. Some fan favorites that were retired include Superball!!, Penny Ante and $uper $aver.
  • Wheel of Fortune is all over this trope:
    • Perhaps the most famous element that was retired from the show was the shopping rounds; until the late 1980s, contestants used their cash winnings to buy prizes. On a whim, the producers tried a play-for-cash format for a special nighttime week in 1987, and after it proved successful, the shopping rounds were retired from the nighttime version (although they stayed on daytime for two more years).
    • Several categories have been retired over time. Among them are Nickname (perhaps the first victim), Foreign Word, Foreign Phrase, Slang and a whole line of themed decade categories (The 20's through The '90s). For a short time, only The '70s through The '90s were used.
    • There is also a whole line of retired categories that offered a $500 (later $1,000) bonus question after the puzzle was solved. These categories included Clue,[[hottip:* :a simple puzzle that described a person, place or thing that was then identified for the bonus]], Next Line Please [[hottip:* :an unfinished phrase that has to be completed for the bonus. This category was originally called Fill In the Blank and used a question mark to denote the end of the partial phrase]], Fill In the Blank [[hottip:* :After the original Fill In the Blank was retitled Next Line Please, Fill In the Blank was repurposed as a Tribond-style puzzle. Three phrases with a common word were used, such as LOVE ? ISOSCELES ? BERMUDA ?, with the answer being "triangle"]], Fill In the Number [[hottip:* :a phrase with a number in it; the number was replaced by number signs and had to be identified for the bonus]], Slogan [[hottip:* :the puzzle answer is a slogan; bonus question is to identify the product]], Who Said It? [[hottip:* :identify the source of a famous quote]], What Are You Making? [[hottip:* :the puzzle listed ingredients to a common food; strangely, this category was used only on the season 26 premiere and never seen again]], and the notorious Megaword[[hottip:* :a single, 10- to 12-letter word, which the contestant had to use in a sentence for a bonus. Between the lack of commonly-called letters in most Megawords and the nebulous judging on the sentences, consensus is that this was an all-around ill-conceived categry]].
    • For the first few weeks, contestants had to land on Buy a Vowel to buy one, instead of having the ability to buy one anytime during their turn.
    • Double Play, a token which could double the value of the contestant's next spin. Many contestants would choose to use this right before hitting Lose a Turn or Bankrupt.
    • The show first tried a Jackpot round in 1987; instead of adding the value of each spin like the current Jackpot does, this one merely increased by $1,000 until it was won.
    • Red letter puzzles. For a while, some puzzles were designed so that some of the letters were red. After solving, a contestant could unscramble the red letters to form a bonus word.
    • Puzzler, a round which lasted through the 16th and 17th seasons. It was a mini-puzzle after the Round 1 puzzle, with an answer related to that puzzle; the solving contestant had five seconds to solve the Puzzler puzzle for a $3,000 bonus.
    • Preview Puzzle, present only in season 17. It was a partially-solved puzzle revealed at the top of the show; with no bearing on the game whatsoever, it was only there for home viewers to try and solve. This and Puzzler were both retired in season 18 for the current Toss-Up rounds.
    • The Star Bonus token in 1978, which allowed a contestant earning it to overtake the leading contestant in a bonus round at the end, played for one of the four big prizes in the show. However, there was no guarantee that the Star Bonus round would be played, so when it unexpectedly was, the episode would be awkwardly edited to fit it in. Also, because the prizes were available during regular rounds, any contestant could earn enough money to buy them, rendering the Star Bonus token useless.
  • For a spell in 1997, ~Jeopardy!~ tried "Bonus" categories, which were clues written to have two correct responses. Anyone who rang in with a correct response could try for the second right answer (for the same value), or offer the other right answer for another contestant. These were only used three times.
  • Subverted on Family Feud. Initially, whoever rang in with the higher answer could choose to have their family play the question or pass it to the other family; at least 99% of the time, "play" was chosen. The play/pass option was retired for the 1980s revival, but inexplicably returned when the current versions started in 1998.
    • Feud also used a Bullseye (later called Bankroll) round in the early 1990s. All five family members played survey questions ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 in value, and whoever gave the top answer had that question's value added to the family's jackpot (determining how much they would play for if they proceeded to Fast Money).
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? axed the "Phone-a-Friend" Lifeline after it basically devolved into "Phone-a-Google". "Switch the Question", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, was also removed along the way.
  • On The $25,000 Pyramid, the "7-11" categories offered two choices: the team could take $50 per word or try to get all seven words for the $1,100 bonus. The former option was retired because almost nobody ever took it.
    • The John Davidson versions of The $100,000 Pyramid used more bonus categories such as Double Trouble [[hottip:* :$500 for guessing seven two-word phrases in 45 seconds]], Gamble for a Grand/Gamble for a Trip [[hottip:* :play the round in 25 seconds instead of 30; if all seven words were won in 25 seconds, the contestant won $1,000 or a trip]].
Community Feedback Replies: 4
  • November 13, 2010
    One Wheel Of Fortune category you missed was "Megaword," in which the puzzle was a single long word. After solving the puzzle, contestants could win some extra money by correctly using the word in a sentence.
  • November 13, 2010
    I didn't miss it; it's up there. I did for get Clue, however, so I'll add that.
  • November 13, 2010
    Re the Wheel Of Fortune Double Play - so, did they lose two turns, or get in the hole the same amount as they previously had?
  • November 13, 2010
    The latter. Supposedly, it was just thrown out if someone Double Play'd before a prize.