A character enters a game show
and finds themselves at the hands of a Jerk Ass
host who gives them Impossible Tasks
or asks them very hard questions
(usually claiming they're wrong even when they answer correctly).
There are several reasons why they would do this:
- The prize doesn't really exist
- The prize does exist, but the show would go bankrupt if even a single person won
- The show is rigged in favor of the opponent
Anime and Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the manga, Jonouchi signs up for one of these. Yugi (or rather, his other self) intervenes to stop the producer's cheating, and Jonouchi wins. But since the producer had never intended to give out the prize money, he'd already spent it and Joey gets nothing.
- Slumdog Millionaire: The game show host actively tries to prevent Jamal from winning because he thinks Jamal is literally too low-class to deserve to win.
- At least twice in The Benny Hill Show:
- In "Sale of the Half-Century" Benny as host tries to throw the game for a hot chick, giving her easy questions while giving the other contestants hard ones, but one of her opponents ends up winning anyway.
- In a version of Name That Tune Benny is a host who successfully throws the game for another hot chick (her opponent is the one who can't win), hoping to go on the grand prize vacation with her - but it turns out she's the girlfriend of her opponent.
- Game shows rigged for a particular contestant to win was what triggered the quiz show scandals in the 1950s that resulted in a name change to "game shows" due to association, created a governmentally-enforced winnings cap, and killed off single-person quiz shows until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? four decades later.
- The Simpsons: Moe enters a bartending contest, which is rigged for (yet another) hot chick to win - but she refuses to participate in the final challenge, so Moe ends up winning.
- In the Looney Tunes short "The Ducksters", Porky Pig is a contestant on Truth or AAAAAAH!, a quiz show hosted by Daffy Duck. The sole purpose of the game seems to be humiliating the contestants, giving them obscure questions (Daffy appears shocked when Porky actually gets one right), impossible challenges, and pain-inducing "penalties". In the end, Porky only wins the prize money because he threatens Daffy with bodily harm, and then uses it to buy the studio and turn the tables on Daff.
- Inverted in Rocko's Modern Life. Dark Lord Peaches rigs a game show to make it easy for Heffer to win, not knowing that the prize is an eternity in Hell. Peaches makes all the questions ridiculously easy, but Heffer bungles them all, only winning the final challenge by chance.
- In the Kick Buttowski episode "Faceplant" Kick enters the titular game show and loses. After some training from Ronaldo, Kick goes back on the show and blazes through every obstacle, but the Jerk Ass host is determined to not let him win because winners don't bring in ratings.