Created By: Loogaroo on April 14, 2010


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Host: "Each of the buttons on the Help Vest represents a different Lifeline that you can use, should you need it."
Contestant: "It's burning me!"
Host: "It's burning you because it's filled with sensitive electronics that could help you win one million dollars! You can Text a Teacher, Borrow the Truth, Accuse a Parent, or Open a Trap Door down to the Clue Chamber where you just might have to face... The Commissioner!!" (dramatic orchestral sting)
Mad TV, "One and a Million"

A rather narrow trope, to be sure, but one that runs rampant in TV Game Shows - especially those that have emerged since Who Wants to be a Millionaire debuted and essentially became the template for all big-money game shows that have surfaced thereafter.

Basically, in any game show with only one contestant trying to win a massive prize, they're given assists that they can use at any time to aid their chances of winning. Generally, it's to stop players from bailing out at the first sign of difficulty, as just about every show in the last 10 years has included a rule where the contestant loses all or most of their winnings if they get so much as a single question wrong.

  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire: The trope namer.
  • 21: In the 2000 revival, contestants were allowed to ask for a "Second Chance", in which a friend was brought on stage to offer an answer to the player. If he or she was wrong after using the Second Chance, however, the player would get two "Strikes" instead of one (three Strikes meant you lost automatically.)
  • Greed: Awarded to the team when they reached the $200,000 question, at which point each question had four right answers from at least six choices. Named the "Freebie", it removed one wrong answer from the choices. It ended up being used on the next question almost every time due to the heavy use of surveys and other subjective material for those questions.
  • The extremely short-lived quiz It's Your Chance of a Lifetime also had helps called "Second Chances". One reduced the question to a 3-way multiple choice, while the other switched the question out for one from the contestant's pre-selected favorite category. Contestants that reached the final three questions were allowed to use either one of these a second time as a "Last Chance".
  • Winning Lines: During the "Wonderwall" bonus round, the contestant could use a "Pit Stop" to freeze the clock for 15 seconds while they refamiliarized themselves with the answers on the board. They could also pass on two questions in the US version.
  • 1 vs. 100: During the game, the One could either "Poll the Mob" (see how many of them gave a certain answer), "Ask the Mob" (have two of them explain the reasoning for their answer), or "Trust the Mob" (Automatically lock in the answer they most commonly gave).
  • Identity had three helps: "Tri-dentity" which reduced the number of options to three, "Ask the Experts" which allowed a panel of experts on body language to weigh in, and "Mistaken Identity" which was essentially a free miss before the player lost it all. Of course, if there were only two identities left, you couldn't use your Mistaken Identity anymore.
  • Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?? Players used "Cheats" that they could use that would incorporate the onstage 5th Grader's answer: "Peek" (look at the answer, but not be committed to it), "Copy" (lock in the kid's answer as their own), or "Save" (get credited for a right answer if the player was wrong but the kid was right).
  • Don't Forget the Lyrics had assists called "Backups": One allowed you to see three choices of the correct lyrics, another filled in any two of the missing words that you wanted, and the third allowed you to bring up a friend to sing the lyrics instead.
  • Set for Life: Done in the form of another person, called the "Guardian Angel", being sequestered in a Sound Proof Booth during the game and making the same play-or-stop decisions that the contestant made. If the Guardian stopped, the game ended, and anything the contestant did after that point was ignored, whether they won the top prize or blew it completely.
Community Feedback Replies: 1
  • April 14, 2010
    Cash Cab has the "shout outs": one via phone and one on the street.