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[[quoteright:300:[[Manga/YandereKanojo http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/yandere_kanojo_golden_snitch.png]]]]

->''"At your feet is a little ball called the Buall'dib. You get a hold of this, and everything everyone else has done is null and void. You snag this...''and we win."''\\
''(picks it up)'' "This?"\\
''"WE WIN!!!"''
-->-- ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', "Ch. 31: Torg Potter and the Sorcerer's Nuts - Life at Hoggelryth"

A competition involving a series of events or activities, in which the final round counts for a disproportionately large percent of the team's total score -- and in fiction, will tend to be worth more than all previous events ''combined''. Thus, whoever wins the final round earns enough points to win the ''entire'' match, regardless of just about everything else that happened before it.

In works of fiction, the Golden Snitch is widely used to do one of three things:
# Create a sense of tension for the heroes, who had been on a winning streak up to this point, but now have to worry about being defeated in the finals (usually because their star player has been taken out of play due to an injury, or the heavenly angels decided to stop helping the team).
# On the flip side, allow for the losing heroes to have a come-from-behind win.
# Allow one person (typically TheHero) to be solely or at least largely responsibly for winning a team game.

This is ''very'' common in {{game show}}s--one standard approach is the "1-1-2" rule, where the first two events are worth one point and the third -- the show's equivalent of the Golden Snitch -- is worth two points; whoever wins round 3 is guaranteed at least a tie in their overall scoring. The reason for this is simple: it maintains tension, by making sure that if someone wins both of the earlier tiers, the viewer will keep watching because that person is ''not'' guaranteed to win after round 2.

It is worth noting that on actual game shows, it is rare for the Golden Snitch to entirely invalidate the previous rounds. The final round may be heavily weighted, but a player who swept the first two rounds may easily be able to force a tie (sometimes leading to a round of SuddenDeath) instead of taking an outright loss. In fictional games, the skew will generally be insurmountable: 1-1-3 (or, [[UpToEleven in extreme cases, 1-1-1000]]) rather than 1-1-2. Most game shows have a fixed number of rounds, and it would be anti-climactic for the outcome to become a foregone conclusion before the final round is even played. On the other hand, giving ''too'' much weight to the last round makes the earlier rounds less interesting.

Whatever the case, if poorly played, it can leave audience members perplexed as to the point of everything they had just sat through for the last 20 minutes. At the same time, it prevents situations where someone can get a truly insurmountable lead (thus causing people to change the channel because they can tell who "won").

When handled well, the Golden Snitch still awards a significant advantage based on previous points. This is commonly done by either increasing the value of points earned in the last round, making it possible to win despite being completely behind, but very difficult, or by giving the team in the lead an actual advantage (usually extra time) in the finale. Another possibility is for the Golden Snitch to be entirely optional, with the implication that competitors usually win by just doing better at every other aspect of the game, and the main character's special skill happens to give them or their team a rare advantage.

When handled poorly, however, the optimal strategy in a game with a Snitch would be to focus solely on the Snitch and avoid every other aspect of the game. In fictional works, the characters will usually not follow the optimal strategy, because that's more exciting for the audience, but the FridgeLogic of the scenario usually leaves the audience thinking "why did they even bother with the other rules if the Snitch guarantees victory?"

Compare OneJudgeToRuleThemAll, where points are awarded by actual judges (one of whom is the "snitch") rather than the players' own progress during the game; and ComebackMechanic, a more general mechanic that allows losing players to catch up. A choice at the end of a game that determines your ending, regardless of past events, is a LastSecondEndingChoice.

See also InstantWinCondition (and all of its varieties) for situations where points and scoring are not involved in determining who wins.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/MyBrideIsAMermaid'', after seeing that his beloved daughter's team is losing the school athletic competition, San's father [the P.E. coach] announces that the final race will be worth 333 points. This is a pun as "san" also is a Japanese word for "three". So it's worth ''san''byaku (three hundred) ''san''ju (thirty) ''san'' (three) points.
* ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn's'' [[TournamentArc Ring Conflict Arc]] involved Tsuna and his Guardians battling the assassination group Varia for the [[MacGuffin Half Vongola Rings]]. Whoever's side can claim the most completed rings (out of seven) wins. After [[BadBoss Xanxus]] succeeds in his EvilPlan, he and Tsuna have a final battle with all of the rings at stake. Thus rendering the other fights entirely pointless.
** It doesn't end there. [[spoiler: Xanxus wins and gets all the rings. Then it turns out that he's Ninth's ''adopted'' son, and can't inherit the rings ''at all.'' Meaning '''''everything was completely pointless.''''']]
** It gets even more stupid: The ''only'' ring that really mattered was the sky one - when he had that he was within his rights to end the conflict and have the heroes killed as the successor. It was only because he [[NiceJobFixingItVillain sadistically wanted to see Tsuna's guardians beaten up]] that he didn't go through with that, and got to the stage where the ring rejected him during their fight. Yep, all the other six life and death fights were pointless, and they found this out after fight ''two''.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' we have the chunnin written exam where the final question simply comes down to "If you try to answer the final question and fail then you will never advance as a ninja for the rest of your life." and the trick is that just by accepting the question you pass the whole test by showing you're willing to take life threatening risks to succeed.
** Actually, there is more to it. The first part of the test is to not be caught passing information around -- to be a good undercover spy.
* An episode of ''Manga/{{Gintama}}'' revolved around a pet competition between Sadaharu and Elizabeth. After Elizabeth gains 1000 points over Sadaharu in the talent portion of the show, the host reveals that the final round -- a race to the finish -- would earn 20,000 points and the win. Katsura gets annoyed by this and demands the rules be changed to be more fair, but the race continues as planned. [[spoiler:Neither of them win, anyway.]]
** When questioned, the host admitted that the first part of the competition was a ratings booster.
* One of the funnier bits exclusive to the anime version of ''Manga/{{Eyeshield 21}}'' takes place during the school festival episode. The white team (containing all the Devil Bats except Hiruma and oddly OOC Mamori and Yukimitsu) are hopelessly behind before the last game... Until they find out the last game is worth more than all the other events put together. They react appropriately. [[spoiler:Of course, in the context of the episode, this makes sense, since the whole thing was set up by Hiruma to force the other Devil Bats to practice/come up with a needed technique.]]
* One chapter of ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'' centers around a quiz show with a final question worth 10 points instead of 1, and answering wrong disqualifies you. [[LampshadeHanging Nobody is surprised by this]].
** Amusing in that the winner gets it '''wrong''', but the hero pushes herself to make it a right answer.
* In the MMORPG-style Greed Island arc of ''Manga/HunterXHunter'', there comes a point when the heroes form a 14 man team to participate in a sports competition, the prize being something that effectively causes LootDrama. The opposing team's leader is one of the game's admins. 8 wins out of 14 matches will win the competition, but once the heroes start winning, the admin steps in for the next round and announces that his particular round is worth 8 points overall. Meaning that the heroes must beat the ridiculously overpowered admin at his own game, or otherwise start all over from the beginning.
** Interestingly, this is invoked and enforced by the admin; since a team of 14 people only need 8 victories to win, a team could have just 8 competent people and pick 6 weaklings to fill the 14 members quota [[spoiler: just like the heroes did.]][[OutGambitted His 8 points round would filter all the teams that try to do that.]]
* A quiz show in ''Manga/CromartieHighSchool'' has four questions. The fourth of which is worth "three million points". The first three were apparently worth ''none''.
* The racer who places 1st in ''Anime/IGPXImmortalGrandPrix'' receives 15 points, the amount 2nd through 4th would get combined. As racers compete in teams of three, this means whoever nabs 1st place is guaranteed at least a tie for his or her team (and is only possible if the same competing team gets the next three positions down ''and'' both of the lead racer's teammates get a DNF).
* The apparent purpose of the Sports Duel Tournament in ''Anime/YuGiOhZEXAL'' was to make Kotori and Cathy friends again by forcing them to cooperate. However, it was actually a trap set by Girag. The scoring system was structured so that the two girls would end up dueling Yuma in the final round no matter what (to allow the Barians to steal Yuma's Number cards through the girls), so the preliminary rounds really had no purpose at all except to make the tournament less suspicious (and not to mention throw in some beach volleyball "Fanservice"). ([[EpicFail This came back to bite Girag royally]]; after Shark - Yuma's partner - decided to leave, ''he'' had to take Shark's place, putting himself in just as much danger as Yuma.)
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', the Straw Hats enter a Davy Back fight-- a sort of ritualized competition between pirate crews-- with the Foxy Pirates. The competition takes place in three rounds, and the winner of each round gets to "steal" a crew member of the opposing crew, who must then swear eternal loyalty to their new captain. Since the competitors for each round are chosen from the start, stealing a member of the competing lineup for a future round forces the other crew to play that round shorthanded, conferring an advantage. When the Straw Hats win the second round, they realize that since the third round is a one-on-one duel between captains, they can steal the captain of the Foxy Pirates, forcing the Foxy Pirates to default on the third round and winning the Straw Hats the game. The ''only'' reason the third round is not rendered completely pointless is that the Straw Hats don't want Foxy on their crew, even as a deckhand and opt to steal back Chopper (stolen by the Foxy Pirates in the first round) instead.
* In ''Manga/MyHeroAcademia'', the second game of the Yuuei School Festival is a human calvary game, with every of the 42 remaining participants having individual point values depending on how well they placed in the Obstacle Race before, the first game. The student who placed 42th in the race has a value of 5 points, the 41st values 10 points, the 40th values 15 points and so on. Doing the math, the 3rd place student (Bakugou) values 200 points and the 2nd place (Todoroki) values 205 points. However, the student who got the 1st place is the exception of the system and he values '''10,000,000''' points instead. Getting this person's "head" would be an instant win for the game, and the person who was unlucky to get this place after working so hard for it is none other than [[spoiler:the protagonist himself, Midoriya]]. That said, it also averts the "rendering all other points meaningless" aspect of the trope, as the competition is simply the preliminary round of a TournamentArc. As a result, while getting the 10,000,000 point headband is an instant victory, the other headbands are still important, as they determine who ''else'' qualifies.

[[folder:Card Games]]
* The game of Black Maria or TabletopGame/{{Hearts}} employs this trope ''twice''. Each heart obtained in a trick is worth one point (points are bad), but the queen of spades is worth 13, meaning the player that ends up with it is almost guaranteed to end up with the most points for that hand. However, the second actually subverts the first. If a player "shoots the moon" and gets every heart ''plus'' the queen of spades, they get no points added and everyone else gets 26. In a subversion of the overall trope, it's possible for a player to shoot the moon but still lose the game in the process[[labelnote:Example]]Player A has 90 points, Player B has 80, Player C has 60, Player D has 70. Player A shoots the moon. Player B ends up with 106 points, ending the game. Player C ends with a score of 86, and is therefore the winner over Player A's score of 90.[[/labelnote]], leading some people to add an option for the shooter to subtract 26 points from their own score, allowing the "shooter" a chance to win.
** If you play with the optional "shoot the sun" rule (take every trick to get a doubled version of "shooting the moon"), you have the most potent version of this; while it's possible to recover from watching another player "shoot the moon" early, it's almost impossible to come back should an opponent "shoot the sun" (unless you're playing to a score other than the traditional 100).
* Some variations of baccarat double the pot every round, so that a player can reverse a loss of all the previous rounds just by winning the current one.
* The card game [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_Deal Monopoly Deal]] has a card called the "Deal Breaker." Even the name sounds like a Golden Snitch, and it is one. Every player is trying to accumulate properties so that he has a monopoly on three properties; and with a Deal Breaker, you get to steal a full set of properties from another player. In other words, you make a third of the progress involved in winning the whole game; a Deal Breaker card is quite likely to be enough to win the game immediately, and if not, you also set another player back by a third of ''his'' progress towards a win. The only card with the power to stop a Deal Breaker is a "Just Say No" card, which really only means that Just Say No Cards are also a Golden Snitch in their own right.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* There's a fine example of this trope in one of Creator/CarlBarks's classic WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck comics: The Tenderfoot Trap (1957). Donald, Scrooge and Gladstone are all entrants in the Pizen Valley Contest for desert prospectors. The contest consists of five different events. The first four are worth 10 points each, and Gladstone wins them all. Then comes the final event, Wild Burro Catching, worth 50 points! In other words, the previous events were a complete waste of time... or not, as Gladstone's luck subverts the trope. Trying to find a burro, he quickly gets lost. This leaves Donald and Scrooge to fight for the prize. However, they end up tied, meaning they split the points. Final score: Gladstone 40, Donald 25, Scrooge 25. Gladstone wins!
** A similar example involved Donald engaged in a sporting contest with some millionaires. He's won every year because his opponents suck, but in the tournament appearing in the book a new, physically-fit competitor appears and seems ready to sweep the competition. What makes it fit the trope is that the character is so confident of his victory that he volunteers to concede the trophy if Donald can win even one event.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Quidditch is torn apart mercilessly in ''FanFic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality'' by rational!Harry, who never fails to point out how pointless the rest of the game is. Everyone he mentions this to is horrified at the thought of changing the rules. [[spoiler:He eventually uses up his "Christmas Wish" to remove the Snitch from the game. The idea gains traction towards the end of the story when both teams in a game realize they can only win the cup if they let the total score get into the hundreds, leading to both Seekers intentionally sucking at their role and ruining the game for the spectators as it stretches out for hours with nothing actually happening]]. A witch with a single viewpoint chapter provides a very good opposing view, though. The Snitch keeps the game interesting because it could end at any second--the problem is that Seeker brooms have advanced so much (while the Snitch's speed has remained the same) that it basically just comes out to which team has the most gold to spend on their brooms. The solution is to standardize the brooms, but then you have the arguments between the people who think a few hours average is a good game (with games of a day or two being exciting in moderation), versus the people who think the game isn't worth watching if it doesn't last at least a week.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon2'' there is Dragon Racing: a game in which the riders grab marked sheep and toss them into their respective bins for points. This seemingly consists of 12 sheep, each worth one point, and at the end a black sheep is launched which is worth ten points, and there are ''five'' players. This means the only way for the race to be even remotely engaging is if a single player scores 10 out of the 12 available points before then. That means if ''any'' combination of the other ''four'' players score even 3 points before the final lap, that's it - the rest of the race is pointless and the black sheep will decide everything.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/TheMightyDucks'', the Ducks lose their first 11 games, forfeit another one because the team revolts, then have a few {{Training Montage}}s in time to sneak into the playoffs with a 1-12-1 record.[[note]]They did have help in the sense that all but two teams made the playoffs, and one of them forfeited their whole season due to measles.[[/note]] Of course, they sweep through and win the Minnesota State Title. (TruthInTelevision, of course, in that state sport championships ''are'' decided by the playoffs, not the season record.) Perhaps it was a case of Gordon's motivational speech holding too much weight:
--> '''Gordon''': "District 5 has had some losses...but [[TitleDrop The Ducks]] are undefeated!"
* In ''Film/DeathRace'' a "Race" actually consists of 3 separate races. Whoever wins first in the final race is designated the winner and that race is added to their countdown to freedom. The first two are just a means of eliminating the competition, which means there is no reason to actually try to win as opposed to hanging back and taking out the other drivers or simply hiding until the coast is clear. Of course, this is pretty much Combat Racing Game: The Movie so no one ever figures it out.
* In ''Film/SummerSchool'', one student who insisted he'd been placed in the remedial course by mistake skips the entire summer term, then returns long enough to take the Final at the end. His is the highest score in the class, proving not only that he was telling the truth about his circumstances, but also that no other tests or homework given during the summer session had counted for anything.

* The {{Trope Namer|s}} is the Golden Snitch, a recurring plot device within the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series. While each goal scored in a game of Quidditch is worth 10 points, catching the Snitch scores 150 points and ends the game immediately - meaning unless your team is getting completely curb-stomped, it's a guaranteed win and the rest of the game is a bunch of pointless flailing with balls and sticks. J.K. Rowling later revealed the reason she created this element of the game was because she got into a fight with her boyfriend and did it as a deliberate TakeThat to [[https://www.theguardian.com/books/interactive/2013/may/18/jk-rowling-harry-potter-philosophers-stone-annotations male sports fans.]]
** While Rowling has gone on record as saying that school Quidditch rules are greatly simplified and that winning without catching the Snitch is much more common in professional circles, she never actually gives a reason why a seeker would end the game and lose rather than just waiting for the score to change, other than wanting to end the game "on their own terms." Also, the one professional Quidditch match we ''do'' see has the exact same rules as the "school" version, and the idea of the team that catches the snitch losing seems just as outlandish to the adults as to the children. Ironically the rest of the books also back this up, with some matches being said to last "weeks or months," exactly the kind of thing you'd expect from a game with a rule like the snitch.
** We actually get the ''real'' reason for the snitch in the third book: the Snitch may win the game, but the less valuable Quaffle wins the league. Quidditch tables are based on the soccer-style win-loss-draw points system, but if teams are tied on points, it comes down to goal difference with the Quaffle. The Snitch may help you win a game by 10 points if you were down by 140, but if another team won by 20 and were down by 130 when the Snitch was caught, that other team had a +20 GD to your +10. This played out in ''Prisoner of Azkaban'' with Gryffindor losing to Hufflepuff decisively but beating Ravenclaw decisively, and Slytherin defeating Ravenclaw decisively but defeating Hufflepuff narrowly, leaving Gryffindor a win behind and -210 on goal difference. If Gryffindor defeated Slytherin by 210 points (six Quaffle scores and the Golden Snitch), Gryffindor and Slytherin would have identical records and identical goal differentials, but Gryffindor would have taken the head to head tiebreaker, and thus finished top of the table. And that's exactly how it played out in the book.
** Another example is the Triwizard Tournament which is the focal point of the fourth book. While each school representative competes in three challenges scattered throughout the school year, victory is determined entirely by whoever first reaches the Triwizard Cup in the final challenge. Performing well in the first two challenges will grant an advantage via a head start, giving those challenges some potential bearing on the outcome, but the audience never sees that advantage play out.
** It should be noted that the matches we see are rather short by general Quidditch standards. It's not at all uncommon for a Quidditch match to last for ''days'', giving a team time enough to pile up enough goals to be ahead even if the other team catches the Snitch--which of course forces the losing team to ''not'' catch the Snitch, because they'd lose. Yes, this means that the winning team always catches the Snitch, but it doesn't mean they won ''because'' they caught the Snitch. They won because their preponderance of goals forced the losing team to not catch it. However, this requires the game to be a ludicrous mismatch; we see it at the World Cup game, but it was noted even before the match that the winning team was obviously superior in six out of seven positions, and the losing team's only hope was for their seeker to win the game before they were overrun.
** Downplayed in [[http://www.usquidditch.org/about/rules actual Quidditch]]. Here, the snitch is only worth thirty points and it is possible to catch the snitch and still lose.
* ''The Collegium Chronicles'', in Creator/MercedesLackey's ''[[Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar Valdemar]]'' universe, has a Quidditch-like game called Kirball. There are three ways to score: get the ball into the opponent's goal tower (1 point), occupy the opponent's goal tower (10 points), and capture the opponent's flag (50 points). Matches typically end with either less than 5 total points scored, or with a flag capture leading to a ridiculous disparity in score. The 10-point score is repeatedly highlighted as having never been achieved.
* In ''[[Literature/{{Redwall}} Lord Brocktree]]'', Lord Brocktree needs to win the allegiance of King Bucko and his court. King Bucko always allows anybody to challenge him for his crown. There are three parts to a challenge: the bragging, the feasting, and the fighting. The announcement then adds that "In the event of the first two challenges being won, lost or declared a tie, the third challenge will decide the winner". Brocktree and his entourage realize that Bucko's doing this entirely for his pride, and train Dotti to target that specifically in the challenges. She comes out ahead.
* In ''Discworld/UnseenAcademicals'', the old foot-the-ball game apparently scores by counting injuries inflicted, but actually scoring a goal is an automatic win (and very rare - Trev's late father Dave Likely is a hero because he scored four times in his ''entire career''). This is ''very loosely'' based on assorted street football games played in medieval Britain.
* Parodied in ''Literature/EarthTheBook''. The end of each chapter has a scavenger hunt with 5 items in Easy, Medium, and Hard, which are worth 10, 20 and 30 points each, respectively. Below that are the six Super Hard items worth 1,000 points each. The catch, of course, is that it's impossible to obtain any of them; they're either intangible ("the innocence of youth"), no longer existing ("the Colossus at Rhodes"), or completely fictitious ("Soylent Green Eggs and Ham").
* In the short story "Fields" by Desmond Warzel, the last twenty people remaining AfterTheEnd divide themselves into two baseball teams as a means of keeping themselves occupied. In a league with only two teams, it is of course a foregone conclusion that those are the two teams which will meet in the World Series; thus, to keep things interesting (and having nothing better to do), they play an entire 162-game season solely to determine which team will have home-field advantage in the Series.

[[folder:Live-Action TV - Game/Reality Shows]]
* ''Series/SaleOfTheCentury'': Early in the 1980s US run, a contestant who had a $16 or more lead after the final Fame Game playing was virtually guaranteed a win, as just three $15 questions remained. To rub salt in the wound: A dominant contestant could snatch the $25 money card and have it added to his score, which meant that all that would be decided was whether the winning contestant would be playing for a better prize in the shopping round, or need less money the next day to be eligible to win the next prize [[note]](or, in the case of Barbara Philips, a Golden Snitch helped her win all of the prizes plus a [[ProgressiveJackpot $68,000 cash jackpot]])[[/note]].
* ''The $100,000 Series/NameThatTune'' used the 1-1-2 rule, as shown above. This was extended to a 1-1-2-4 setup in most tournament episodes during Jim Lange's version. (Note that if the players split the first two rounds, the third round became absolutely meaningless.) At least one $100,000 finals episode had one contestant sweep the first three rounds, only to lose the final round and the tiebreaker question, giving the whole shebang to his opponent.
** In the show's second season, the final for the tournament held for the first season's contestants who qualified for the "$100,000 Mystery Tune" but were unsuccessful had a 1-1-1-3 setup, so again, if the first two rounds were split, the third was meaningless.
* ''Series/LegendsOfTheHiddenTemple'' used the 1-1-2 rule; however, winning all three rounds had a significant advantage: If you won via tiebreaker, a bad setup of the bonus round could make it {{Unwinnable}} (the points/talisman fragments are the contestants' "extra lives"). Winning all three rounds, on the other hand, would guarantee that a team could not run out of lives (a team would have two full pendants, plus there would be two contestants to a team, which meant that all three Temple Guards would be taken care of by the time the second contestant had to give up their pendant).
* The final survey on ''Series/FamilyFeud'' is worth triple points, ''far'' more than enough to win with even if you lost on all of the others. (On the other hand, usually if the game gets this far, it means both teams are getting pathetically low scores on the other rounds. Normally, the double-point round is enough to determine a winner, but team with a run of good answers can win even before that.)
** "Winning" the round, and getting all the available points, are two different things. A family could, in theory, win every preceding round, but only because the other side couldn't get enough answers correct, whereas any answer given when the other team attempts to steal, regardless of popularity, wins those points. If things ever ''do'' get to triple-point scoring, it's mainly to just wrap up the game.
** Some versions (such as the Louie Anderson one) had three rounds of regular scoring, followed by the triple-point round which only allows for one strike. Instead of playing to a set number of points, the family with the most points after the triple-point round won. The triple-point round almost always decided the game, meaning a family could sweep the first three rounds, and still lose if their opponents won the triple-point round.
** After the game reverted to 1-1-2-3, the rules changed again. If neither team had reached 300, then there would be a triple-value SuddenDeath round, usually with a simple question whose #1 answer would have an extremely high point value.
* On ''Series/ThePriceIsRight'', a contestant that loses their pricing game still has as good a chance of making it to the Showcase as one who wins. However, turn order in the Showcase Showdown determined by previous winnings, and going last is a significant advantage, since you know exactly what you have to get to win, and you win by default if your opponents both go over before your turn.
* Inversion: A malignant example is the {{Whammy}} in ''Series/PressYourLuck''. Getting just ''one'' will wipe out your accrued wealth, regardless of lead or total. As such, this is fatal to a player in the endgame regardless of score or skill. You ''automatically lose'' if you get one on the last spin of the game. (Unless there happens to be a tie at $0, which actually has happened on the show.) Because of this, passing your earned spins onto 1st place (2nd if you're in 1st) is a viable strategy, as they'll be forced to take those spins.
** The "$3000/$4000/$5000 + one spin" spaces in the final round can usually help a contestant lagging behind to overtake the leader and win the game and even more so if they land on the space multiple times.
*** The revival, ''Series/{{Whammy}}: The All New Press Your Luck'', also had this but the second season introduced the Big Bank, [[ProgressiveJackpot where all money/prizes a player loses to a Whammy goes into the Big Bank]]. A player that lands on the Big Bank space and then answers a question correctly would snag all the money/stuff stored. Since Whammies were commonly landed on, the Big Bank usually got tons of money and prizes stored and this could guarantee that player a surefire win of the whole game if they don't hit a Whammy afterwards. (However, it would always restart at a base of $3,000 each episode, so it's even less compared to what might've happened if it was a normal rolling jackpot.)
*** The revival also had 2 rounds of spinning on the big board like the original had done, but it was very common to see people mainly win in the 2nd round of spinning since round 2 typically had prizes with higher values than the prizes in the 1st round.
* ''Series/{{Go}}'', a Bob Stewart show where the round values were $250-$500-$750-$1250, and the winning score is $1,500. If a team wins the first three rounds, to fill the half-hour, they get to play the bonus round twice (for a potential $20,000). However, like the ''Name That Tune'' example, if the first two rounds are split, the third round becomes meaningless.
* ''Wild 'n Out'' has variable scores for the different sections in each minigame, but the Freestyle Slam at the end can allow any team to score more points than the other games combined (this is usually edited out in the broadcast, though).
* ''Series/NickelodeonGuts'' and its successor, ''Global Guts'', had the Crag (and all variations thereof), whose completion gives a player 725 points for 1st, 550 for second, and 375 for third, meaning that unless you lose at every event before then, you can easily turn the game around in your favor by getting first or second. Plus, there's an added bonus that rewards players who would otherwise be tied, but did better in the front game.
** However, if the three players went in with scores of 1200, 800, and 400, it would not matter what places they finished as the points differential between them was too high to change the standings. Basically the Crag in this scenario only decided whether the 1st place finisher would finish with a perfect score or not.
*** The new version, ''My Family's got GUTS'', changes this to an ''American Gladiators''-style setup: For every 10 points a team gets, that team gets to start up the Crag 1 second before the other team (for a maximum of 7 seconds). However, like AG's Eliminator, whoever finishes first wins, and some teams have come from a 7 second wait and still won.
* ''Series/AmericanGladiators'' was decided by the Eliminator from Season 3 on (in the first two seasons, it was ''total'' point score that mattered and the Eliminator simply added to the points accrued); first across the finish line won. The points scored in previous rounds were merely used to determine how big a head start the leading player got (one half-second per point).
** In the 2008 edition, the Travellator, an inclined treadmill which the contenders must climb with the aid of a rope, becomes a golden snitch ''within'' a golden snitch - it's the very last obstacle that must be surmounted before crossing the finish line, and it's an order of magnitude more difficult than anything else in the event, ''especially'' as the contenders are now completely exhausted. If the first contender to reach it fails to make it up on his/her first attempt, his/her opponent will almost invariably catch up and the match essentially turns into a contest of luck.
* Similarly, ''Series/SupermarketSweep''[='s=] numerous question rounds, Mini-Sweeps and other front game diversions simply determined how much time each team got to run through the store in the Big Sweep. The winner of the Big Sweep then got to play for the big $5,000 prize in the Bonus Sweep.
* ''Series/TheJokersWild'' had two:
** In the main game, either contestant could immediately win the game by spinning three Jokers and correctly answering a question in the category of their choice. This was even worse during the first week or so of the CBS run- spinning three Jokers would just win you the game, no question needed.
** In the "Face the Devil" bonus round, a "natural triple" here (three of the same dollar amount) instantly awarded the player a prize package, plus either $1,000 or the amount in the pot plus the value of the triple, whichever was higher.
* ''Series/MervGriffinsCrosswords'' had a musical chairs system with three "spoiler" contestants who can steal on clues missed by the front two contestants. If a spoiler makes a successful spoil, they get to switch places with one of the contestants, and their cash and prizes ''stay'' at the podium. Sure this sounds harmless, but several games were decided by a last-second steal, and wouldn't you be aggravated as a contestant if you worked so hard [[NoBudget (for such low payouts)]] to rack up that cash, only to see you get usurped by a contestant who did ''nothing'' the entire game just because you made one wrong move?
* ''Series/FunHouse'' had the Grand Prix, a GimmickLevel race around the studio collecting tokens worth 10 and 25 points, as well as earning 25 points for crossing the finish line first. Either team could easily clean house in this round, especially when they added in a "token bank" in the latter seasons, giving both teams more chances of racking up the points.
* ''Series/FindersKeepers''. Winning the hidden pictures round won a team money and earned the team the right to do the room search. However, the dollar values were increased for the room searches, and if a team failed to find the object, the money for that attempt went to the opposing team. So even if one team completely dominated the hidden pictures round, if they failed too many searches, the opposing team would win without doing a damn thing!
* The "dare" system in Nickelodeon's ''Series/DoubleDare1986'' is similar to the ''Finders Keepers'' example; each time a question is passed to the other team (known as "daring" the opponent to answer; the controlling team can "dare" the other team to answer, and be "double dared" to answer it in return, after which they must answer it or take a physical challenge), the dollar value for it is doubled (twice the amount on a "dare", four times the amount on a "double dare"), and if the question is answered wrong while a "dare" or "double dare" was in play (or the physical challenge was not successfully completed), the last team to pass the question gets the money. Savvy players, therefore, could ping-pong a question with their opponents to rack up the cash, then get the answer right or win the physical challenge to net them a huge lead (or give the game to the opponent on a silver platter, if they suck).
** In theory, anyway. In practice, most of the players didn't want to take the chance that their opponent would know the answer after all. So if they Dared, it was because they didn't know the answer to begin with, and if the opponent Double Dared back, it went straight to the physical challenge.
** Remember, too, that this show had a 1-2 format, making it even worse than the usual game show Golden Snitch; it was possible to hold the opponent completely scoreless for ''over half of the game'' and still lose big.
** And finally, the bonus round: eight purely physical tasks, each with a more valuable prize. In all, a dumb but athletic team not only stood a much better chance of reaching the final than one that was smart but weak, but also would win much more once they got there. So physical talents could be considered a Golden Snitch.
* The Video Challenges in ''Series/NickArcade'' could be horrendously guilty of this; essentially, one teammate has to meet or beat the challenge set forth by the "video wizard" on a certain video game within a time limit, and depending on how much their partner wagers out of their score (which can be anything up to their total, or up to 25 points if they have less than that), they could effectively double or bust their score, depending on if the challenge is beaten, making or breaking the game for them. However, most teams only bet 5 or 10 points, averting this trope.
* ''Series/MakeTheGrade'', another Nick game show, was also a big offender. Here, the object was to answer at least one question for every subject and every grade level, thus lighting up your whole board. However, they also had physical challenges called "Fire Drills", where the contestants got to choose which player podium to return to based on how they placed in the Fire Drill. Very often, a contestant who spent the whole game answering questions and building up their board found themselves losing because one of the other contestants placed first in the Fire Drill and stole their board. (The worst ones come when the kid in first place is one question away from winning, then uncovers a Fire Drill and ends up losing their spot to a doofus that can barely tie their shoes, who then stinks up the studio in the Honors Round.)
** The error of this system was made even more glaring in the final season, where the outcome of certain Fire Drills was determined ''completely at random.''
* ''Series/MastersOfTheMaze'' had the maze which took up most of the actual show. The previous (question) round determined which teams would go into the maze and which teams would go to the maze first, and the team who made it through the maze the fastest would win the game.
* ''Series/BodyLanguage'' was a rare case where the first two rounds were in fact ''completely'' meaningless, or at least they would be if points weren't also consolation prize cash. To wit: The first two rounds were worth $100 each, and the second two were $250. You had to get $500 to win, which is only possible by winning both later rounds, whether or not you won the any of the first two rounds. If neither team got to $500, there was a tiebreaker for the game that completely ignored the previous scores.
* ''[[Series/{{Password}} Super Password]]'' used a 1-2-3-4 pattern where the first to 5 was the winner. If the same team took the second and third rounds, it won; if they were split, the fourth round decided the winner. In neither case did the outcome of the first round have any significance.
* ''Series/WheelOfFortune'' is ''full'' of Golden Snitches:
** The "Final Spin," which involves the host spinning the wheel one last time to determine the value of letters. This has gone back as far as the beginnings of the show, whereupon if the host landed on the top dollar value, a contestant who previously had no winnings could solve the puzzle, overtake the first-place contestant in an instant and win. Since early in the 17th season (1999-2000), $1,000 is added to the value of the landed-on space, meaning that if the wheel lands on a high enough value (particularly the $5,000 space), the final puzzle could allow someone who previously hadn't won at all to overtake the leader and win. To be fair, all contestants keep all winnings, so it's hard to complain about a second-place score in the $20,000 range. For a long time, Pat Sajak hitting the $5,000 wedge was very rare, but over his tenure, he's become so effective at spinning the wheel that he can do it at a pretty consistent clip.
** One of the first Golden Snitches, aside from the Final Spin, was the "Star Bonus." Played during the 1977-1978 season, a contestant landing on this token could – if he was trailing after the final round was played – play a special bonus puzzle for a prize that was worth enough to allow him to overtake the first-place contestant's total and become the day's champion. He may have to solve an "easy" puzzle, one of moderate difficulty or one that was "difficult," depending on how much he was trailing. While the one circulating episode resulted in a loss (the contestant failed to solve a difficult "PABLO PICASSO" puzzle for a Porsche sports car), there have been several Star Bonus wins.
** Other Golden Snitches include $10,000 Mystery Round and the "Prize Puzzle", the latter which offers a trip – always worth more than $5,000 – for simply solving the puzzle. Certain players will immediately solve a Prize Puzzle, even if they haven't even spun the wheel yet, because they know that the prize itself is worth far more than anything they could hope to win that round and don't want to risk hitting a Lose a Turn or Bankrupt and giving the puzzle (and, by extension, the prize) to another player. In a normal game, where nobody gets a special space like the aforementioned two and they don't get an obscenely large Final Spin, the winner is more often than not the person who won the Prize Puzzle.
** At least once, this has been subverted: one contestant went from a distant third to $35,000 thanks to a $6,000-per-letter Speed-Up, but still lost.
** Another game breaker is the "½ Car" tags. There are two on the Wheel in the first three rounds, and they are replaced if one is picked up. It's not too difficult to pick up both, solve the puzzle, and win a car in the $15,000 range.
** Though the difficulty to get them was amped up starting in Season 33- now they don't appear on the wheel until round 2.
** The Wild Card can shift the game as well, since it allows a player to call a second letter at the same value they just spun. $3500/$5000 space + Wild Card + a letter multiple = potential blowout.
** During the show's 25th season, one round had a "Big Money" space that could award up to $25,000 if a player hit it at the right time and found a letter in the puzzle. At least one contestant won the game because of it.
** Starting in Season 30, the Express wedge. If a contestant calls a right letter on it, he or she can decide to stop spinning and start picking off consonants at $1,000 a pop. The option of buying vowels is still open, too, so most contestants have no difficulty figuring out the answer fairly early and continuing to call consonants until the puzzle is filled in entirely for a pretty sizeable bank. Since the Express wedge occurs in the same round as the aforementioned Prize Puzzle (making it essentially ''two Snitches in one''), the only way to beat a player with a successful Express run is to cancel it out with another Snitch (and even then, the catching-up player often needs to have done fairly well in previous rounds to boot, since often the countering Snitch on its own ''still isn't enough''). Needless to say, this rarely happens, which makes the outcome of a game with a successful Express run highly predictable.
** When it existed, the Jackpot. It started at $5,000, increased with the value of every spin, and could be won if you hit the wedge, called a right letter, and solved. The Jackpot frequently went into five figures, and usually guaranteed its winner a trip to the Bonus Round.
* The British [[Series/SaleOfTheCentury Reg Grundy]] show ''Keynotes''[[note]]adapted from an unsold 1986 pilot in the US, and also briefly adapted in Grundy's native Australia as a summer replacement for their ''Sale'' in 1992[[/note]] has a particularly bad case of this: £30 for the first round, £60 for the second and £120 for the third. Not that all games were decided by the third round; at least one had a £30-0 victory.
* ''Series/BeatTheClock'', particularly the version hosted by Monty Hall from 1979-80, is a prime example. Even if you were behind by the maximum possible amount of $2,000, the game came down to who could get shuffleboard pucks the furthest in the Bonus Shuffle. Whoever was in the lead would go both first and last (admittedly a big enough advantage that an upset was uncommon), but as long the farthest puck that hadn't fallen off was yours, you won, ''even if you were behind the entire game!'' Not only that, but whoever won was that day's champion (and got to come back on the next show, unless reaching the $25,000 limit), even if they failed in the Bonus Stunt and ended up behind the other couple (by as much as $2000 to $300).
** And then there was the Gary Kroeger version, which had two: the first had points accumulated translated to positions in an untimed stunt, last to finish is out; the second was a variation on Bid-a-Note from ''Series/NameThatTune'' played between the last two teams (here's a stunt, whoever says they can complete it faster plays; if they fail, they hand the game to their opponent, and the first bid is determined by a trivia question).
* The first 50 minutes of ''Series/TheCrystalMaze'' concern the players completing challenges to win crystals. These crystals do nothing but increase the amount of time that the team is allowed in the Crystal Dome at the end (five seconds per crystal). This is made even worse by the fact that it didn't matter how much time you had: if you collected more negatively scoring silver tokens than positively scoring gold tokens, you failed anyway. (You had to get 100 points to win.) A perfect example of this can be found in a team that won 11 crystals (the average was four) and ended up with 198 gold... and 167 silver.
** The Crystal Maze wasn't a true example, but the ineptitude of many contestants made it seem that way. The amount of time in the dome ''should'' matter, if the team has enough common sense to use the earned time to sort and discard some of the silver tokens, rather than collecting everything indiscriminately.
* On the Canadian comedy-quiz show ''You Bet Your Ass'' (where the absolute top prize was $2500, ''Canadian''), the setup was 1-1-2-''n''. First round had questions worth 100 points; second round did the same but mixed up how they were offered; third round had questions worth 200 points; the final round was effectively a series of three Final Jeopardies in a row to each player, with the ''minimum'' bet being 500. You have to build up an effective base to have a chance in the final round, true, but at that point almost anyone can catch you if they're bold and smart enough.
** Also each contestant got a different set of questions, so they'd just have to hope they get easier ones.
* Parodied by one Japanese variety show, in a game where the celebrity guests were asked questions worth 1 point each. However, the final question was worth 1,000,000,000,000 points. The score at the end humorously showed the winner's score as 1,000,000,000,003 (give or take a point or two) squeezed into very narrow digits.
* Parodied in the 1978-79 game show sendup ''Series/TheCheapShow'', which used a 1-1-''20'' system.
* ''Series/DancingWithTheStars'' has gotten notorious for this:
** It happened in the first season. It was a head-to-head, Kelly Monaco against John O'Hurley, which Kelly won. Criticisms over who really deserved it and how much of a role Kelly's fanbase played prompted ABC to do a ''rematch'' of the final ''several months after the season ended''. It would be for the title, effectively discarding ''the entire season'', and for some inexplicable reason Kelly agreed to it. John won. No word on whether Kelly was forced to relinquish the trophy.
** The 11th season final featured Evan Lysacek and Nicole Scherzinger (with Erin Andrews as the also-ran). Every round had half of the score determined by the judges and half by the audience... except the final. It was played out over two days. The first had two dances, with the combination of the two receiving a single score in the usual fashion. The second had two more dances, ''each'' receiving a score ''from the judges only'', effectively making the split 75/25. The judges, who were pretty vocal about wanting Nicole to win, scored her 2 points higher than Evan (30-28) both times, turning what had been up to that point a tight contest into an easy victory for Nicole.
** And of course, every so often we get a very literal Golden Snitch, where the contest simply awards gigantic piles of points to one or more contestants at completely random points in the season. Any time you see some scoring wonk or something with a cute name like "dance-off" or "dance marathon", you can be sure you're going to see this. Of course, since scores don't carry over, all this does is ensure that someone the producers like survives the week (which is most likely the whole point).
* ''Series/TheNewlywedGame'', Carnie Wilson's version. First round, where the women are asked about the men, each question is worth 5 points. Second round, where the men are asked about the women, each question is worth 10 points. Except for the last question, which has two parts, each worth 15 points. The most famous version with Bob Eubanks was basically the same, except the final was a single question worth 25 points.
* Creator/{{MTV}}'s ''Series/{{Trashed}}'', to an extent: Questions in the first two rounds earned 50 points and 100 points each, respectively. The show's final round featured rapid-fire questions at 150 points each for 39 seconds, making come-from-behind victories quite easy. However, winning the earlier rounds had a significant advantage: the more possessions you saved, the longer your time limit in the BonusRound.
* The German game show ''Series/SchlagDenRaab'' (internationally syndicated as ''Beat the Star'') consists of 15 games (which can be comprised of sports (often unknown ones), games, trivia quizzes, any ability test of strength or dexterity, or tests of luck). Scoring is similar to a game of rotation (except that the rules of said pool variation don't apply here) the points in each game are scored 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15 for a total of 120 - first to 61 (which is more than half of the point total) or more (which is the point total that's impossible for the opponent to catch up with) wins. Not exactly this, as the first games hardly matter, but then the trope really kicks in when the game reaches Big Points territory.
* Entirely averted in British show ''Series/OnlyConnect'', where the question editor proudly announced that due to adjustments to the difficulty of the Connecting Wall (making it harder) and the Missing Vowels round (making it easier), Season 2 saw the rounds give, on average, equal points as each other to within a point... Despite the quick fire nature of the missing vowels round making it feel like it should be swingy compared to the other rounds.
* British show ''Fluke'' saw rounds of quick fire questions interspersed with entirely arbitrary elimination rounds, with the points only giving the privilege to pick first in chance based games where whatever position you played in gave the exact same chance of being eliminated (Such as getting the choice of two ovens, one with a cooked goose and one with an uncooked goose, where if you opened the oven with the cooked goose it meant your goose is cooked which means you're out, to pick the final bye-bye game in the final episode as an example). Lampshaded via a catchphrase - "What are points?" 'Pointless!' - Not that the questions were any more than fifty/fifty toss ups for the entire show, including in the bonus round. Still, money would be given per correct answer.
* ''Series/FamilyGameNight'' on Creator/TheHub, for the first two seasons, awarded one "Crazy Cash Card" to each family at the start of the show, then an additional card to the family who won each game. Most cards were worth no more than $1500 or so (and generally only a couple hundred bucks), but one card, the Top Cash Card is worth anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. Thus, a family could lose all five games and still win the grand prize if the card they chose happens to be the Top Cash Card.
* Played with in ''Series/BeatTheGeeks'' with the "Geequalizer". Each contestant is given rapid-fire questions worth 10 points each, but one wrong answer ends the round for them. There are ''just enough'' questions that if one contestant got every single point possible and the other contestant had zero, that contestant could come back from behind, but only if they finished the entire Geequalizer (pretty much unheard of), and the other contestant missed the very first question.
* The short-lived ''Scavengers'' had an odd variant- points were awarded for collecting salvage during each game, rather than for winning the round. However, the final round essentially reset everyone's score, requiring them to carry the salvage they've already earned across a deep gorge over several trips. The more they've got so far, the more points they can earn, but if they mess up the leading team can finish with fewer points than they started with, allowing the trailing team to overtake them.
* The Nickelodeon game show ''Series/WildAndCrazyKids'' was terribly guilty of this as their shows had a 3 event structure, with double points being awarded to the winners of the second event and triple points (or higher) to the winners of the third. This allowed the host to utter the line "So anybody can still win" before each event. This appeared to insult the intelligence of children about their understanding of competition.
* The finale of ''WCG Ultimate Gamer'' has two contestants competing against each other in three different video games, worth 1, 2 and 3 points respectively, meaning all three games had to be played in order to guarantee a winner, and a player who won the first two games may still lose if they don't win the final game. Taken UpToEleven in Season 2, where the final game was ''VideoGame/HaloReach'', where one of the two finalists was ''one of the top Halo players in the world''. Yep, isn't that fair?
** This essentially is the same as 1-1-2.
* Inverted in the ''Series/HorribleHistories'' game show, ''Gory Games''. Winning a round gets you a Year Sphere, containing a hidden year. At the end of the game, the spheres are opened and the years are added to determine the winner...but BC dates are ''subtracted'', and they go back a long way. If you grab, say, a 1.5 '''million''' BC sphere, it'll knock you into flat last regardless of how many rounds you've won, because the positive scores are things like 1066 and 1492. And winning more rounds makes you more likely to grab the dud. It's quite possible, although unlikely - most year spheres are positive - to win no games, gain no spheres, score zero, and be declared champion because the other two competitors got negative scores.
* ''[[Series/{{Gambit}} Catch 21]]''. In the final round, the scores are wiped clean, and the two finalists play that round without ScoringPoints. Winner of that hand wins the game. Say you curb-stomped both of your opponents in the first two rounds (say, 1500-100-0). You're obviously going through to the final, and the guy with 100 points goes with you, since he's in second. Now, your opponent is dealt an ace to start the final round, then answers just one question correctly and pulls a 10-value. Well, buddy, you're screwed. Hope you made a 21 earlier so the bonus prize goes home with you.
* Inverted in the earlier days of the Japanese show ''[[Series/DasshutsuGameDERO DERO!]]'' - the maximum possible prize in the Beam Room round usually accounted for around half the total money up for grabs in each episode, and it was also usually played ''first''. Although it was also NintendoHard, so a win of more than half the maximum was rare. Played straight after it switched to a winner-take-all points battle format, and the Beam Room was moved to the last round before the BonusRound, where the team with the last player remaining will earn two points per player. Under the new format, a CurbStompBattle in the Beam Room (as highly improbable as it would be) would guarantee a win regardless of previous score.
** The show's SpiritualSuccessor ''TORE!'' replaces the Beam Room with the Cliff Chamber, where each player in the winning team would receive two golden Pharaoh statues.
* The first season of Creator/FoodNetwork's ''The Great Food Truck Race'' had a pretty bad example of this. The final leg of the race completely ignored everything that happened in the previous five weeks in favor of a straight-up race around UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity. This meant that the truck that had won '''all five previous legs of the race''' lost out to a truck that stayed in the middle of the pack throughout the race (and was in fact almost eliminated on the first episode).
* In the Creator/BillEngvall version of ''Series/{{Lingo}}'', the setup is now 1-2-'''5'''. Mitigated by only having 3 words in round three, but still true if the in-behind team gets all 3 words ''and'' a lingo, $2000 usually being enough to overtake anything of a lead the competition might have had.
* The very last round of ''Series/TalkinBoutYourGeneration'' is always worth one point more than the difference between the losing time and the winning team, "which means that anyone can win!". Of course, ThePointsMeanNothing anyway; the only real stakes are bragging rights.
** Although subverted, though definitely not averted, in Episode 26 wherein it was worth ''one million points''. Which was still well and truly enough that anyone could win, but there was no "exactly" about it.
*** On at least one occasion, Shaun just admitted he didn't remember what the score was and set the final round at an arbitrarily high number of points.
* ''[[Series/ChaseGameShow Cha$e]]'' claimed that contestants accumulated money for every second they could avoid the Hunters and lost all their winnings if they were eliminated (by being tagged by a Hunter or otherwise), but there was no way to take that money and leave (although the show did have offers to quit the game for a fixed amount). Thus all that mattered was not being eliminated until the last few minutes, then being the first to reach the exit point. A player could easily reach the end with every utility and be eliminated simply because they couldn't reach the exit point first.
* ''Series/CouchPotatoes'' had the "Couch-Up Round", in which players took turns answering buzz-in questions. Buzzing in also stopped a computer that shuffled random point amounts as well as the phrase "Couch-Up"; answering a question with "Couch-Up" lit immediately tied the score if your team was behind, effectively making the first part of the show meaningless.
* Spanish TV contest ''Gafapastas'' is a real-life shining example of this. It has five rounds, the first four are worth €600 if you manage to do everything perfectly and the last one is ''1200€'' for the same. Not only that, but while the first four are individual rounds (Meaning both players can get the 600€), the last one is head-to-head answer-this-first squareoff, so a losing player can quickly CurbStompBattle their opponent and win by with a huge margin. The current champion has won many games simply because he's really good at the last round. The worst part? For a while, it was 800€ for the first 4 rounds and 800€ for the last. That's right, they changed it to make the rounds ''more'' unbalanced!
* ''Series/LetsAskAmerica'' has a question worth as much as ''all questions up to that point'' at the end of each of its three rounds, with money totals being cumulative throughout the game. The player with the lowest total gets eliminated at the end of each round. The format is 1-2-3 for the first round, 4-5-15 for the second, and 20-50 for the third round. Answering the last question of any round correctly will allow the contestant to at the very least tie, but more likely pull ahead of anyone who did not answer the question correctly.
* ''Series/{{Jeopardy}}'' has all the trappings of this trope, but never plays it completely straight. Earlier questions (although they tend to be easier ones) are worth less money than the later ones, and the Daily Doubles and the Final Jeopardy round can all double your money if you get them right. However, you also can LOSE just as much money for any question if you answer wrong, and the game is virtually an automatic win if one player has at least double the score of any other player going into the last round, as long as they don't pull a [[Series/{{Cheers}} Cliff Clavin]] by betting too much on Final Jeopardy. (Ties for first at the end of Final Jeopardy are considered a "win" for all players involved, as long as the score is more than zero.)
* Creator/JayWolpert's ''Series/WaitTilYouHaveKids'' uses a "1-2-3-4x2" format, though more than one couple can score per-round. In the final round, both members of each couple answer and score score individually, allowing up to ''8'' points to be won!
* On the original ''Series/{{Concentration}}'', if a game ended in a draw, a new game was started with each contestant allowed to retain up to three prizes from the draw game. This also applied if time was running out on a show and a puzzle was 3/4ths exposed. The puzzle was revealed, the game is ruled a draw, and a new game is started on the next show with the players allowed to retain up to three prizes from that default draw game.
** On ''Classic Concentration,'' a player could match no prizes, win both games and lose the car round both times, going home with nothing but the consolation prizes they give to the losers. On the original show, a player won $100 winning a game with no matched good prizes (and/or the $500--later a car--bonus for selecting two Wild Cards on the same turn).
* ''Series/TheKryptonFactor'', in pre-1995 series, had the General Knowledge round at the end of the game. Whilst in most rounds the contestants scored 10, 6, 4 or 2 points according to their ranking in that round, in the General Knowledge round, you simply scored 2 points for a correct answer and lost 2 for an incorrect one. It didn't matter how good your Mental Agility, plane-landing skills or completing a gruelling assault course faster than anyone else was, the General Knowledge round (often comparatively easier) could essentially undo all that. The 1995 series had the final Super Round, with all previous rounds merely buying "advantages" that could be used at the end.
** The pre-1995 format was less of an example that it initially appears - there were slightly more points available than in the earlier rounds, and potentially a back-runner ''could'' make up ten or more points on the leader and snatch a victory, but this would have required them to be significantly stronger on general knowledge than all three opponents, which was unlikely. The more likely outcome was a distribution of points broadly in line with the other rounds. So in theory a Golden Snitch was available, but unless three of the four contestants were hopeless on General Knowledge, it would be almost impossible to pull off in practice.
* Yes, ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' has this, too. No matter how many immunity challenges or rewards you have under your belt, or who’s at the head of the alliance, or anything else, it’s all just buildup for the main event. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80JurDQe0wI You have to win the votes of the jury in the end.]] If you can’t win over a jury (made up ''entirely'' of the competition you eliminated), being the best physically and the best strategically, all the strategy and moves and blindsides and whatnot, means absolutely nothing. (Unlike the ''Series/DancingWithTheStars'' example, it is ''always'' and ''entirely'' possible to turn things around at the absolute last second.) [[Characters/SurvivorSamoa Natalie White]] and [[Characters/SurvivorPearlIslands Sandra Diaz-Twine]] ([[SurvivorHeroesVsVillains Both Times!]]), in particular, understood this point perfectly, and that’s why both of them wound up with the million.
* ''Series/PanelQuizAttack25'' has the "Attack Chance," which kicks in when there are five boxes left on the board. The player who gives the next correct answer makes their regular capture, then targets one of their opponents' previously-captured boxes. That box can then be recaptured on a later question. If played correctly, a player in a distant third or fourth place often comes back from near-nothing to win the game.
** This also has the potential to backfire spectacularly if the targeted box is in line with another opponent's boxes, or if the targeted player reclaims that box.
* The comedy panel quiz podcast ''International Waters'' awards one million points for the final question (while pre-final-round scores tend to fall in the single or low-double digits). Even repeat guests who are fully aware of this gag often seem to lose track of it and worry about meaningless early-game leads.
* There are six rounds of ''Series/{{Idiotest}}'', worth respectively $200/$200/$500/$500/$1000/$2500, so the last round it worth more than the first five combined. The rub is that players lose ten percent of the money for each second they do not answer. Even then, the minimum value of a correct answer in round six is worth more than the maximum value of either of the first two rounds.
* The 1985 clunker ''Series/TimeMachine'' used a 1-1-2 point system during its second format. Each of the three minigames was worth a prize, so there was still incentive to play perfectly.
* The ''Series/AmericanNinjaWarrior'' {{spinoff}} ''Team Ninja Warrior'' consists of a tournament of four teams (of three players each) in each episode. Each tournament is three rounds. The first round is only used for determining seeding of the second round (the winners of each branch of the tournament's first round face the losers of the opposite branch). It is only the second round that determines which teams move on to the third round. From a game-theory perspective, the absolute best strategy would be to immediately jump off the obstacle course and lose every heat of the first round, thus preserving the team members' energy and eliminating any risk of injury, to be fully prepared to take on the second round, where it actually matters if you win.
** Within each round, there is also the 1-1-2 version of the Golden Snitch, as the first and second heats are worth one point each, and the third worth two points. A fourth heat is used if a tie-breaker is needed.
* In the UK show ''The Edge'', points (which are converted to prize money) are earned by bowling a ball down a lane marked with amounts from £1 to £950. Stopping the ball on the very last segment ("[[TitleDrop the edge]]") earns £1000, £2000 or £3000 in successive rounds - enough to be essentially an InstantWinCondition for that round. If this happens in the final elimination round, then one player stopping on the edge forces their opponent to do likewise. Hitting the edge is so difficult to do on purpose that it comes down to a LuckBasedMission, which if anything makes it ''worse''.
* The ''Series/{{Countdown}}'' Conundrum (the single-question final round) comes close to being either a GoldenSnitch or completely worthless. Seeing as someone nearly always gets it correct, it doesn't matter if your 9 points ahead or 9 points behind at this stage, the winner is the person who gets this single question correct first, as they will score 10 points and the game will be over. On the other hand, if the gap is more than 10 points, this round will have no impact on the winner.
* In ''Series/{{Swashbuckle}}'', the third round, ''Shipwreck Rummage'' is the only one the team has to win in order to win the whole game. Winning the first two rounds cuts down the amount of items you have to find against the clock in the third but it's still completely possible to lose the first two, then win the third and the game.
* Even though teams on ''Series/TheAmazingRace'' have their time disparities preserved across legs (if you checked in N minutes after the first team on the previous leg, you have to wait N minutes after the first team departs on the current leg before you can depart), the show will usually set up an equalizer near the start of every leg where all the contestants end up arriving at an airport several hours before the first flight, or (more uncommonly) at a task location hours before it opens. The vast majority of the time, this wipes out most if not all advantages and disadvantages between teams had from the previous leg[[note]]Exceptions do happen, albeit very rarely, such as Nick & Vicki in Season 18 - at over 6 hours behind the second-to-last team, they couldn't make it onto the same flight as the other teams, and ended up 9 hours behind by the time they arrived in South Korea[[/note]]. However, demonstrating that [[TropesAreTools Tropes Are Not Bad]], the first season's lack of these equalizers led to two teams being over 12 hours ahead of the rest by the end of leg 9, making the game essentially {{Unwinnable}} for the rest and making most of the remainder a ForegoneConclusion.
** They also have none-announced "non-elimination" rounds, which, since the idea is to be the last team standing, makes the entire leg pointless. The first team may, or may not, win a prize but all teams continue to the next leg and the order in which they arrived really does nothing to alter the odds. They also have "Fast Forwards" which if completed first allow one team to skip over all other tasks. It has however happened a handful of times that the fast forward has been completed, but still didn't win the team first place, typically due to long commute times or getting lost.
* In ''Series/CanadasWorstDriver'', the Worst Driver trophy is generally given to the contestant who did the worst on the final challenge, regardless of how well (or badly) they did on the earlier challenges. The final challenge is driving on public roads, which is by far the most important test of the person's driving ability.
* The 1994 French game show ''Trésors du Monde'' pitted a single team against five challenges; the first four challenges set up the prize money, but the fifth challenge was the one that decided whether the team won or lost the prize.

[[folder:Live-Action TV - Other]]
* On ''Series/{{Cheers}}'', They had the Best Boston Barmaid competition in which Carla won every round, including customer service, only to be informed at the end that she lost to the terrible, blonde barmaid because the winner is always the barmaid with the biggest breasts.
* On ''Series/TheColbertReport'', Stephen Colbert's Metaphor-Off (Or "Meta-Free-Phor-All") with Sean Penn involved four questions. The first three were worth one point each. The last question was worth ten million points. It could decide the winner.
* Likewise, in one episode of ''Series/OutOfThisWorld'', Evie's team sweeps the entire game, netting 900 points. The final question is worth 1000. Surprisingly, they win anyway.
* The creators of ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway?'' gleefully tweaked their noses at this trope by having ThePointsMeanNothing--what's more, not only do the point values have no meaning, the awarding thereof is completely arbitrary and the "prize" is just the questionable privilege of a bonus game.
** The reason this was adopted in the original British version was originally for quality control — they filmed more games than there was time to include in one episode. Thus, the least funny/successful games could be left out. If the points were meaningless, they wouldn't have to account for the missing points at the end of the show.
** Not always questionable, sometimes winning meant you got to ''sit out'' the bonus game instead of participating.
** In the British version, at least, the "prize" was to read the show's closing credits in the style of the host's choosing.
** In the US version the prize was frequently to switch places with the host and sit out the last game.
** In one episode of the US version they were doing a game show and the final round was "worth one million points, making all previous rounds pointless".
* An episode of ''Welcome Freshmen'' had an academic bowl being won a team that answered all of ''three'' questions, by luck to boot, which all happened to be worth 10 times that of previous questions.
* An episode of ''[[Series/TheAddamsFamily The New Addams Family]]'' show had Gomez competing against Death for his life in this fashion. The last round is worth all of the points, and when asked "Then what was the point of the matches before?" The reply is just "better ratings".
* The ''Championship Gaming Series'' ''truly'' screwed the pooch on this one- the contest's five disciplines were hugely [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Gaming_Series#Scoring_system idiosyncratically scored]]- aceing both ''VideoGame/DeadOrAlive'' rounds five-nil, (for a total of ten points) taking the top two spots in ''[[VideoGame/{{Forza}} Forza Motorsport]]'' (taking six points and conceding one), and winning {{FIFA}} by ''three'' clear goals (Net profit of three points) will result in a tie if the opponent team wins all the ''VideoGame/CounterStrike'' rounds (18 points). Of course, ''which'' discipline counts as the golden snitch is up in the air, as the rounds were never played (or at least, broadcast) in any specific order.
* The Beauty Pageant in the "[=iWas=] A Pageant Girl" episode of ''Series/ICarly'' seemed to follow this pattern. Sam is an uncouth loudmouth going on about fried chicken during the introduction and answers her special question stupidly. Both of these on ''their own'' would be enough to stop someone coming first. But somehow Sam comes back to win, as she performs a tap dance routine in the talent section.
* Appeared in an ImagineSpot on ''Series/That70sShow''.
-->'''Kelso''': (as the host) The girls have 50 points, and the boys have... zero. But the boys still have a chance, as this last round is conveniently worth fifty...''one''.
* Competitions between the three presenters on the British motoring show ''Series/TopGear'' often include one for the final event making the other events sometimes completely unnecessary. For example in the original Cheap Car Challenge the final event was to add a point for every pound under the limit the presenter spent. This allowed Clarkson to come from behind and win because he spent a grand total of 1 pound for his vehicle.
** The general flaw is that instead of awarding points for rank in any one event, they are awarded based on actual performance which is often unbounded and never weighted. The problem can work in reverse when points are subtracted for poor performance and a breakdown or other misfortune can result in thousands of points being lost. Usually by James May.
** Lampshaded in the Police Car Challenge, where Hammond scores 1 point for 'flamboyance' while the others score nothing, and subsequently kick up a huge fuss about it despite it being totally irrelevant to the final scores.
* In some episodes of ''Series/TopGearUS'', the final challenge is "winner takes all". This means that whoever won the final challenge would be declared the overall winner of that episode, regardless of his performance in previous challenges.
* ''Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment'' judged the value of astrology by measuring elements of Dave's happiness on three scales - Love (on a scale of -100 to +100), Health (on a scale of -100 to +100) and Wealth (in pounds) - and then adding them up to see if the total was positive or negative. So he could be dying alone, but as long as he had more than £200... (And that's exactly what happened; with all three scores circling the drain, he put up a longshot bet just before the arbitrary cut-off point, and scored £500. [[ArtisticLicenseStatistics So astrology works.]])
* National selections for the Series/EurovisionSongContest have been known to feature this, notably the Ukrainian entry in 2005. Having played out the preselection over the course of 15 knockout rounds, the broadcaster bizarrely added ''Razom nas bahato'', an anthem of the previous year's Orange Revolution, as a "wildcard" entry in the final. It won the vote (and promptly had to be rewritten to remove the political content, in accordance with Eurovision rules).
* In ''Series/TheFinder'' Walter needs to take a sanity test from [[Series/{{Bones}} Dr. Sweets]], if he passes he can officially take part in any investigation as a consultant, if he fails Walter would be considered insane. Walter fails, but Sweets can get him to pass if Walter tells him what compelled him to find things.
* ''Series/KamenRiderFourze'' pulls off something similar to ''Naruto''. During an astronaut qualification exam, there is a "bonus" question about describing the test papers ([[labelnote:answer]]when the three test papers are held up to the light, an outline of a star appears in the field for the bonus question[[/labelnote]]). Gentaro and CloudCuckooLander Yuki pass the exam answering ''only'' the bonus question, meaning that regardless of score, answering that bonus question is enough of a qualification. The exam proctor mentions that the school board chairman (also the series BigBad) only put it in for "a little joke".

* In Rappy [=McRapperson's=] ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8KWRlv3C6k Basketball]]'', the singer's team was losing by a hundred points, only for a teammate to pass the ball to him so he could pull off an awesome dunk worth a million points.

* In general, the {{Progressive Jackpot}}s on many pinball games can be this if they have been built up for long enough. Similarly, games like ''Pinball/BlackKnight2000'' which carry over progress towards the WizardMode from player-to-player and game-to-game.
* Good scores on ''Pinball/TheMachineBrideOfPinbot'' are usually in the tens of millions of points. However, it is possible to make a shot that will spin the Big Wheel which can light a shot for ''1 billion'' points. This was viewed as such a GameBreaker that anyone who makes this shot goes on a separate high score table called the "Billionaire's Club". Ironically, there is a 50 million point award on The Big Wheel which is much more of a GameBreaker since you will still quality for the standard high score list provided you don't make the billion point shot.
** ''Pinball/BugsBunnysBirthdayBall'', from the same designer, also features a 50 million point shot, which overwhelms everything else in the game. The fact that it's only randomly available on the player's last ball just makes it even more capricious.
* ''Pinball/JohnnyMnemonic'' has Spinner Millions, which is worth 10 million points a spin for the rest of the ball it's activated (on default operator settings, you can only get this once per game). With only about 5-6 trips through the spinner, this can reach a billion points or more. The fact that it's part of your bonus that can be multiplied up to 4X will turn that into 4 billion. There is also a GoodBadBug with Hold Bonus which will essentially award it twice on the next ball, meaning having Hold Bonus would award you another 8 billion on the next ball, and again as long as you keep getting Hold Bonus. By comparison, the WizardMode of this game usually awards about 5 billion points.
* The WizardMode in Creator/{{Capcom}}'s ''Pinball/{{Breakshot}}'', "Cutthroat Countdown", can easily become this -- a decent round of Cutthroat Countdown can easily break ten million and roll the score, while the ScoreMultiplier and consecutive Countdowns could theoretically be worth over ''200 million.''
* ''Pinball/{{Comet}}'' has the One Million shot, which can make for some pretty lopsided scores. Somewhat mitigated in that it's only available on the last ball, and collecting it requires the player to light 1-9-8-6 and then make the Cycle Jump to the farthest target.
* Completing 9-Ball in ''Pinball/CueBallWizard'' gives an overwhelming 500 million points, or ''1 Billion'' if DOUBLE is enabled. Offset somewhat in that 9-Ball is a TimedMission that is not easily achieved.
* This is the biggest criticism players have against ''Pinball/GilligansIsland''. Successfully delivering the Lava Seltzer to Kona the Volcano God rewards a lopsided 50 million points... with ''another'' 50 million rewarded for each subsequent shot the player makes before time runs out. For comparison, scores are relatively low for anything not related to Kona -- a good player will still need at least a few minutes to reach even ''one'' million points.
* ''Pinball/WhiteWater'''s "5x Playfield" bonus, which, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin makes everything worth 5 times as many points as normal]] for the next 25 seconds. If ''White Water'' appears at a competition, expect to see all of the top players build up their awards as high as possible, activate "5x Playfield," then collect them within those 25 seconds, which can likely make "5x Playfield" worth more than everything else collected up to that point.
** In the earliest [=ROMs=], it stacked geometrically with Double or Triple Jackpots in multiball, allowing 10x or 15x jackpots. That was {{Nerf}}ed pretty quickly, making any jackpot 5x the value of a single jackpot while it is running.
* ''Bad Cats'' normally awards points for consecutively shooting the left ramp, giving 50K, 100K, 200K, and then a million each for the fourth and later shots. However, on the last ball only, a fifth consecutive shot will award ''20 million'' points. The ProgressiveJackpot itself can also be this; despite the backglass implying that it caps at 8 million, it seems to have no {{Cap}}; it can go well beyond that.
* ''Pinball/PoliceForce'' has a Take The Highest Score feature, where on the last ball, two consecutive shots to the right ramp will add the highest player's score to the current player's score (or double their score if the highest or in single player).
** Very similarly, ''Pinball/ThePhantomOfTheOpera'' (albeit being by a different developer) allows the player to double their score on the last ball with consecutive left ramp shots.
* For completing each of the four major tasks in ''Pinball/Indianapolis500'', Victory Laps are lit at the top center hole and are worth a large amount of points (ranging from 200 million to a billion depending on how many are collected at once). One of the Speedways ([[CallAHitPointASmeerp modes]]) is 3X Playfield Values, which [[CaptainObvious triples all points]] temporarily. This can apply to Victory Laps. Make of that what you will.
* ''Pinball/{{ACDC}}'' has this trope to an extent as well when Song Jackpots are added to and collected with playfield multipliers. 2x and 3x playfield multipliers can be gotten, and points for major shots are also added to the Song Jackpot. The multiplied points are added as-is, so a shot normally worth a paltry 400K with a 3x multiplier will award 1.2M immediately and add that much to the Song Jackpot. However, the Song Jackpot itself is also susceptible to the playfield multiplier, so that 1.2M added before can become 3.6M.
* The Hand of the King round on ''Pinball/{{GameOfThrones}}'' can become this if played perfectly. Similar to the AC/DC example above, having playfield multipliers will add the multiplied jackpots to a large hurryup that can be collected after collecting several Super Jackpots - which also add their multiplied values to the bank (and your score). If playfield multipliers are still running, that whole bank can be multiplied again by up to 5x. Executing this perfectly can result in a single shot worth well over 5 billion points, in a round that's usually started with a score around 1 billion. Averted somewhat by the need to continually juggle hitting the risky Battering Ram shot at just the right frequency.

* ''Radio/WaitWaitDontTellMe'' features this in spades, as for most of the game each question is worth one point to each panelist, but in the final round, Lightning Fill in the Blank, questions are worth two points each, and they're more numerous than all the other questions combined. That said, since it's a comedy show masquerading as a game show, the score isn't really all that important.
** In an average game, around 9 points or so are awarded before the lightning round. Each panelist gets 2 questions worth 1 point each, and 3 more are up for grabs for games like Bluff the Listener. The lightning round consists of up to 8 questions per panelist (or as many as can fit into 60 seconds, whichever is less), each worth 2 points. Thus, the only impact of everything before the lightning round is that one contestant might have a one-point lead going in. (Though a total of three or four points before the lightning round, with a lead of two or three points, isn't unheard-of; in one very unusual case the leader had five points going into the lightning round, a three-point lead over the second-place panelist.)
** The standings going into the final game determine the order of play (the panelist in third place goes first), and panelists sometimes actually complain about having the most points going in because the third set of lightning round questions is supposed to be harder--though this seems to be more of an InformedAttribute most of the time.
* ''Creator/HamishAndAndy'' Invented a game called random John, in which a random phone number is dialed. There are strict rules about how often a call can be made and what qualifies as random. If the person who answers the phone is called “John” the caller gets 1 john point. If the person who answers the phone is called “John Johnson” the caller gets 50 john points, making it something of a golden snitch. However since they have been playing this game for over three months and still have not gotten a single john point, even getting a “John” could qualify as at least a silver snitch. [[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}}'' gamers will usually gang up on whoever is highest, especially when that player is trying to score their tenth level (thus winning the game). For this reason, it's preferred to face off against a really weak enemy, so you can win even after everyone else has thrown everything they have to stop you. However, if that player ''is'' stopped, the next player trying to score the tenth level will usually win due to everyone else having run out of curses and monster-boosting cards.
* In the remake of ''1313 Deadend Drive'', each person on the will starts with a certain amount of money tokens, descending as you go down. If someone on the will is bumped off, their tokens go to the person below them. Each player "owns" certain characters and can move anyone on the board, and the goal is to bump off the opponent's characters and get yours out of the house before the detective arrives. The cat starts with twelve tokens (the most of anyone - she's at the top of the will), and it takes several turns before anyone has the ability to trigger a DeathTrap - so if you control the cat and can get her out of the house immediately, you have an insurmountable lead from the very start.
* Japanese Mahjong has special hands called ''yakuman'' which are [[{{Understatement}} quite difficult]] to obtain, but they are worth 32,000 points (48,000 if you are the dealer). In a game where everyone typically ''starts'' with only 25,000 points, scoring one of these off another player will likely bankrupt them. Usually, if someone goes bankrupt the game is over and the rankings are determined then and there, and guess who probably just stormed into the lead with a cool 32-48,000 points?
* ''TabletopGame/{{Yugioh}}'' has the Exodia cards, which getting all five into your hand (Exodia, and the Right Arm, Right Leg, Left Arm, and Left Leg of the Forbidden One) awards you an automatic win. If a player can build their deck around drawing as many cards as possible, then it's pretty easy to win with those. There are other instant win cards too, such as Destiny Board and Final Countdown, but the conditions under which to get an instant win with them are harder (both requiring you in some way to wait a certain amount of turns before it happens, provided the game goes on that long).
* ''TabletopGame/KillerBunniesAndTheQuestForTheMagicCarrot'' can offer a lengthy bout of playing bunnies, attacking bunnies, stealing bunnies, and doing all manner of intricate and interactive things to the other players and their bunnies. It's all nearly meaningless, because the winner is whoever managed to get hold of the carrot that happens to be the bottom card of a deck that was shuffled before the game and never touched.
* This trope, both played straight and inverted, is the ''whole point'' to the board game "Snakes and Ladders". Nothing makes an already-random game's outcome more potentially frustrating than having one's opponent luck into a ''huge'' boost from a long ladder right at the beginning of a round, unless it's to work your own piece's way up to the top row - gradually, roll by roll, bit by bit, with many a short drop along the way - only to land smack dab on a freakin' ''python'' one or two turns from a win.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Multistage Payload Race maps in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' (including Pipeline and Nightfall) work this way; if a team wins both of the first two rounds, they can still lose the third round and the game. While they are given a significant edge (their bomb starts up further in the last round), whether this is worth the effort to win those first two rounds is debatable. At one point Pipeline was changed so that winning both of the first two rounds placed the winning team's cart at the checkpoint in the middle of the track, giving them a significant advantage but still allowing determined opponents to have a chance, especially given how quickly rounds of Payload Race can turn around. Then they changed it back for some reason.
* Parodied somewhat in ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'', when the player has to compete in three games in order to continue. As the third game begins, the host alerts you that the third game is worth enough to win everything, but the point of the whole thing is to [[DoWellButNotPerfect just barely lose]] all the games to stroke the ego of the villain, so this fact is irrelevant.
* In the video game version of ''Scene It?'', the final round is completely broken. Some versions have the final round set to where getting a wrong answer takes away points from your score, and later versions have the point ''multiplier'', which doubles the amount of points you get ''each time'' for repeatedly answering correctly (2x, 4x, 8x, etc.)
* In ''VideoGame/EliteBeatAgents'', a player receives 50, 100 or 300 points for successfully tapping "hit markers" in time with the beat of a song, with more points for a more timely hit. However, you then get a multiplier to that score that depends on the number of markers you've hit in a row, which can get up to ''hundreds of times'' the original score. So markers early in a song are mainly only good for raising your combo numbers, and the actual score only makes a difference later on. Except for one thing - on higher difficulty levels, 50s and 100s give you next to no life, so you ''need'' 300s. This has the side effect of missing a note in mid-song much, much more detrimental to your score than missing in the beginning or the end.
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' in VS mode is sort of like this. Both teams when playing as survivors gain points based on distance traveled, survivors left, health remaining, and then the map bonus multiplier. If the whole team dies, they only get distance and map bonus and the points gained for distance is very small since it only maxes out at 100 points. The map bonus multiplier starts of as x1 but can reach as high as x2 or x4 near the end. A team who has been losing for a bit can suddenly sweep victory under the other team's nose if they do exceptionally well in the end. This is assuming that the losing team is only down by a few points and not lagging badly like 3000 points behind.
** The scoring system in VS mode heavily relied on number of survivors that made it to the safe room, how much health everyone had when they made it, and the map multiplier. This could often cause one team of very skilled players to dominate by 1000 points or more while the team that can't reach the safe room several times would never have a chance to get ahead. The sequel cuts down on this and the trope by changing the scoring where only the distance counts as the major factor of scoring and anyone that did happen to make it to the safe room would just get 25 more points per person that is alive. Tied scores in a round are dealt with by awarding the team that did the most damage as the infected in that round extra points.
* The quiz game ''Buzz'' ends with an eliminator round: Every time you answer a question correctly, your opponents' scores tick down, and anyone whose score gets reduced to zero loses. Therefore, it's possible to catch up and win even if you were lousy in all of the other rounds.
* A game called ''TV Show King Quiz Party'' or something along those lines, has you(r Miis) playing for money. On the final round, the 2 best players will compete against each other to in that final round. The prize money is always enough to beat the opposing team, even if they have a $700,000 lead.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'': Regardless of how many votes you get at the Landsmeet, it always ends with a duel between the PC or a champion and Loghain, with the winner choosing the new king.
** Earlier, the [[OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame dwarven council]] is in a deadlock and you need to choose which dwarf you want to be king in order to get their support. You can spend the entire time supporting one of them, but whomever you choose at the final choice is the one that ends up being king. Even if you've been against them the entire time until that very moment. In that case you explicitly only get away with it because everybody but the candidates themselves is so sick of the situation that they would have agreed to a coin flip at that point.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'' has the Festival of the Hunt in Lindblum, itself a TakeThat of the "running of the bulls" in Spain. Instead of bulls, monsters commonly fought in RandomEncounters pepper the city, but the (appropriately golden-brown) [[FullBoarAction Zaghnol]] is worth five times the points of any of them.
* In ''[[VideoGame/TheSpellcastingSeries Spellcasting 301]]'', it doesn't really matter how well the Pharts do in the challenges. Whether they stomped the Yus, got stomped or ran a close competition, at the end of the final scheduled challenge, the Judge will declare that since the scores are so close (Which they might not be), there will be one last challenge, which will earn the frat to complete it enough points to guarantee a win. [[spoiler: This is because the Judge is secretly the series BigBad, and the whole point of the competition from his perspective is to manipulate ''somebody'' into completing this final task, which will provide him the MacGuffin he needs to enact his evil scheme]].
* In ''VideoGame/WallaceAndGromitsGrandAdventures: The Bogey Man'', Wallace is competing against Duncan [=McBiscuit=] for chairmanship of the Prickly Thicket Country Club, and is rather absurdly behind (167 to 83, according to the scoreboard). After the 16th hole, in order to humor his totally outmatched opponent, Duncan offers to ignore the stroke count and declare Wallace the winner if he can ''complete'' the course before Duncan does, meaning that despite Wallace having completed the course in twice as many strokes as his opponent, he still wins the game (mainly because Duncan couldn't find the 18th hole).
* In ''VideoGame/StarWarsBattlefront: Elite Squadron'', there is a skirmish mode. It consists of three rounds. The first and the second have no effect on the final victory. They just provide offensive and defensive bonuses in round 3, which decides whether or not the game is won.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/{{beatmania IIDX}}'': On one hand, every note is worth the same maximum of 2 points to your EX Score. On the other hand, most songs tend to have a DifficultySpike at the very end where the note density suddenly skyrockets. The clear/fail judgment is a straight example, since your LifeMeter must be at 80% or higher at the end of the song or else you fail, making the endings much more important.
* In the Rampage and Knock-Out game modes of ''[[VideoGame/DiRT DiRT Showdown]]'', which usually last three minutes, the last 30 seconds are worth double points. If you do well enough in these final seconds, and get plenty of [=KOs=], you can snatch a last-minute win unless you're significantly behind.
* Earlier installments of ''VideoGame/DanceDanceRevolution'' would multiply the value of each step by the number of steps so far (so for example, if a Perfect on the first step is worth X, then a Perfect on the second step is worth 2X, third step 3X, and so on), making the last step worth well over a hundred times more than the first. In addition, it would calculate X to make the maximum possible score come out to a round number (which depends on the version and difficulty) but then round down X to a multiple of 10, essentially salami-slicing your score. To keep the maximum possible score at that round number, the salami-sliced points are added onto your score if you get a Perfect on the final step. For example, in ''[=MaxX=] Unlimited'' on Heavy difficulty, the first step is worth 530 points, the final jump is worth 323,300 points (530 base x 610th step), and holding that jump until the Freeze Arrow finishes is worth another 1,231,850 points (530 base x 611th step + 908,020 points salami-sliced previously). This system was finally changed in ''[=DDR SuperNOVA=]'' so that every step is worth the same and no salami-slicing occurs.
* The VideoGame/NintendoWorldChampionships 1990 was a gauntlet of three NES games: ''Super Mario Bros.'', ''Rad Racer'', and ''Tetris''. Players were given six minutes and 21 seconds to complete three objectives: get 50 coins in ''SMB'', finish a specially-made course in ''Rad Racer'', then use the remaining time to score as many points as possible in ''Tetris''. The scores were added up when time expires, but the ''Rad Racer'' score is multiplied by 10, and the ''Tetris'' score was multiplied by 25. The contest therefore was determined largely by whoever got the most time saved for ''Tetris'' as well as optimal strategy for that.
** Similarly, the 1992 Campus Challenge is a gauntlet of three SNES games: ''Super Mario World'', ''F-Zero'', and ''Pilotwings''. The player must get 50 coins in ''SMW'', finish two laps of Mute City I in F-Zero, and then use the remaining time to score as many points as possible in ''Pilotwings''. In this case, the F-Zero score is multiplied by 100, making it worth a maximum of 340,000 points. The ''Pilotwings'' score is multiplied by 10,000. As with NWC, the ''Pilotwings'' segment makes up a vast majority of the score; each stage in Pilotwings is worth up to 100 points, which translates to up to 1,000,000 points in contest score.
* The Vs. Mode Minigames of ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBros'' will give 100 stars to whoever player that wins the last round of Shuffle Mode, which mostly guarantees a win to anyone who isn't in first place (unless they are far behind).
* The Reversi mode in ''[[VideoGame/WarioWare WarioWare: Mega Party Game$]]'' has one of these in the form of a giant robot. The player who owns the most tiles at the end of the game must "battle" this robot by playing one final microgame, and if they lose he crushes their spaceship with his hands and all of the other players win a joint victory.
* ''Puzzle de Pon'':
** Some stages have hidden spots where you can shoot a bubble for an instant ''1,000,000'' points, in a game where a well-played stage scores about 100,000 points.
** Puzzle Bobble awards huge scores for dropping a large number of bubbles at once, so levels where this is possible (especially a few "one-shot" levels where this is the ''only'' gameplay) are worth disproportionately more.
* Zig-zagged in Spin-Off in ''VideoGame/WiiParty''. When several x2 or x3 spaces are landed on without playing a mini-game, the bank will have an absurd amount of coins, and the player who wins the next game will usually get an incredible lead. That lead can easily be taken away in a duel mini-game though, where the challenger (who gets to choose their opponent) gets half the opponent's coins if they win. A win here will usually give the challenger a slight lead over their opponent and overall.
* The Jack Attack segments in the ''VideoGame/YouDontKnowJack'' games are well-known for having lots of questions with huge payouts. Anyone who dominates in this segment is all but guaranteed to win unless the cash difference between the players is astronomical. However, it can also work in the other direction. Because you can pick the wrong answers as many times as you want, and are penalized for ''each'' wrong answer, it's very possible to get yourself into [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMxjDPOyjeY extreme negatives]], as WebVideo/JonTron demonstrates in this episode of WebVideo/GameGrumps. (He was ButtonMashing on purpose, but carelessness can really cost you in this round.)
* ''VideoGame/MarioParty''. In almost all games, the last five turns tend to come with an event that activates to change things around, usually to the point the entire flow of the game is altered in about five seconds. Some of these events include:
** Coins given or taken away by landing on Blue/Red spaces are doubled- even tripled.
** All Red Spaces become Bowser Spaces (aka a 30% or so chance of something bad happening to a random person every turn)
** Bowser Revolution, where everyone's coins/stars are taken and shared equally between all players
** The postgame Star giving awards, in which players get free Stars for various 'achievements' such as landing on the most happening spaces or moving the most spaces. In ''5'' and beyond, these bonus stars are selected at total random. These can also take someone right from last to first (or vice versa), and right after the game's technically "finished" to boot!
** Chance Time, present in the second and third games, has a chance of stars being swapped, potentially plunging the First Place player into last place -- and vice versa. The fourth game introduced the Reversal of Fortune space instead of this, which besides the possibility of swapping stars, coins can be interchanged, '''both''' stars and coins may be swapped, or player A gives two stars to player B.
* Finding [[spoiler:Detective Marlowe's]] body in the second chapter of ''VideoGame/TheWitcher'' automatically resolves the investigation quest arc that can be failed in oh-so-many ways if you only go by the bits of evidence you can collect otherwise.
* An in-universe example happens in the second ''VideoGame/{{Robopon}}'' game. Dr. Zero's Legend0 ranking, in his words, "transcends all ranking systems." He uses it to instantly rise to the top of the ranking and thus spend the rest of his time constructively.
* ''VideoGame/KantaiCollection'' downplays this with normal damage calculations, where the flagship gets disproportionate weighting, such that it's possible to get a C-rank (tactical defeat) despite having heavily damaged all the other enemies so long as the flagship only has light damage. Also played straight with bosses, where sinking them is the only thing that lowers the gauge, and all damage to the accompanying mooks doesn't count.
* Somewhat ironically, Quidditch in the 2003 game ''Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup'' is nowhere near as susceptible to this as in the movies or books. In an attempt to balance the game so it didn't rely so heavily on the Golden Snitch it was seemingly overlooked that it was maintaining control of the field was so easy that running your score over a hundred points over your opponent was commonplace.
* ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}'': Ranked Battles always keep track on how much each team has progressed in completing the set objective (capturing a zone for a set ammount of time, riding a tower to the enemy base, etc.), with the team that made the most progress before time runs out being the victor. However, if one team successfully completes the objective, the match ends immediately and scores the victor team a Knockout victory, giving them a huge victory bonus and the losing team nothing, regardless of how much progress the other team made.[[note]]Except for players that are over level 20, who will still receive one experience point for every minute their team lasted.[[/note]]
* Several {{Light Gun Game}}s such as ''VideoGame/LetsGoJungle'', ''VideoGame/LetsGoIsland'', ''VideoGame/HauntedMuseum'' and ''Monster Eye'' run like this. The ending that the player gets only depends on one factor- whether you succeed or fail at the ''very last'' challenge of the game, which is also a NintendoHard or plain tricky one.

* ''WebVideo/UltraFastPony:'' In "The Pet Games", eligibility for the final round of the Games is decided completely at random, rendering all the prior rounds utterly pointless. It's possible this isn't how the Games are supposed to be organized, but just the result of head judge Rainbow Dash being [[TheDitz an idiot]].

* ''Webcomic/DMOfTheRings'', like its [[Film/TheLordOfTheRings source material]], essentially ends with the entire fate of the campaign resting on one single die roll for whether or not Frodo manages to cast the ring into Mt. Doom. It should be noted that, at that point, Frodo isn't even a player character. He's an ''{{N|onPlayerCharacter}}PC''.
-->'''[[TheRoleplayer Gimli]]:''' You mean that after all we've been through, this campaign comes down to the roll of a single d20?\\
'''[[GameMaster DM:]]''' Well... With special modifiers...\\
'''Gimli:''' ''[EyeTake]''\\
'''[[TheRealMan Legolas:]]''' Actually, that sounds '''intense'''. Roll it, man. Let's see what we get.
* ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', twice in the ''[[Literature/HarryPotter Torg Potter]]'' parodies:
** In [[http://sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/020915 here]], the Golden Snitch in their take on Quidditch is basically the InstantWinCondition. Torg innocently picks it up to look at it during the rules explanation and wins the game for his team. Deliberately made sillier than the {{Trope Namer|s}} because the Bual'dib is a stationary object lying on the ground.
** In [[http://sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/080417 this one]], the final event of a competition is worth four billion points. The leader after the previous events had all of ''fifteen'' points. This is lampshaded as "Standard wizard procedure of completely unbalancing all games".

[[folder:Web Original]]
* WebVideo/SomeJerkWithACamera parodied this in his first installment of the mock quiz show "Is It Still There?" (involving attractions at [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Disney California Adventure]] that may or may not have survived years of frantic renovation). The first two rounds are worth ten and twenty points respectively; the final round is "worth one hundred points, rendering this entire exercise meaningless."
* WebVideo/CinemaSins sometimes has bonus rounds to arbitrarily inflate a movie's score with things that aren't quite sins, such as a VerbalTic or StuffBlowingUp, in extreme cases going well into the billions. A bonus round for ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' counted many, many more sins for accurately portraying "air karate" than for the movie's actual flaws and errors.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{Captain Planet|AndThePlaneteers}}'' episode "You Bet Your Planet" [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext had aliens put on a game show]] between the Planeteers and Ecovillains to decide the fate of the planet. The Ecovillains won the first three rounds, but in the last, a ''Series/FamilyFeud''-style round, let the heroes get points for every correct answer they got, allowing them to quickly equal the bad guys.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/APupNamedScoobyDoo'', Scooby and Shaggy are contestants on a game show that spoofs ''The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime''. After the opposing team passes on the final puzzle, Shaggy gives the correct solution and earns 30,000 points for himself and Scooby, enough to win the game.
* Played for humor in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/DaveTheBarbarian''. After failing the first three parts of his Rite of Pillage, Dave is able to pass the rite overall because the final test (counting for 75% of his score) is handwriting. The explanation is that the Rite is [[ProductPlacement sponsored by a pen company]].
* The very final race of ''WesternAnimation/ObanStarRacers'' is worth twice as many points as any of the prior races, giving even last placers a shot at the win.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Pygmoelian" had a contest between bar owners. After two contests, they get to the Drunk Toss, which is worth 98% of the total score, "... making the previous rounds a complete waste. [[VerbalTic Oh yeah]]!" Sure enough, Moe wins the contest, although we don't know what the scores were for the other rounds.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePJs'' had this in the episode with the gumbo contest. At least the important event was actually cooking gumbo and the tasting.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' Blernsball, a tethered descendent of baseball, has a target at the very far boundary of the stadium with the words "Hit ball here to win the game". The only possible way to hit the target is to break the tether, thus scoring a traditional "home run".
* Played straight in some episodes of ''WesternAnimation/LaffALympics''. Usually by making the last event a "special" 50-pointer.
* ManipulativeBastard and JerkAss [[TheSociopath Sociopath]] game show host Chris from ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' ''loves'' to pull these over on the contestants, as it always guarantees the show will be ''interesting.'' He usually gets called out for it, but the episode ''Up The Creek'' was one of the few that no one pointed out.
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius,'' Jimmy cheats in a parent-child contest so that he and his father win the earlier rounds. Cindy discovers his ploy, neutralizes it, and then [[LampshadeHanging mockingly reminds Jimmy]] that the one remaining contest is worth the majority of the score.
** In another episode, the children in Ms. Fowl's class take their final exam, which, according to Ms. Fowl, is worth 95% of their total grade.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'' had Enzo playing in a sports Game where only the last race counts whether or not you win. However, the point lead one accumulates determines how much of a lead you have for the last run.
* The ''WesternAnimation/TomTerrific'' story "The Big Dog Show-Off" has Mighty Manfred at first winning the contest after the other dog in the contest is unmasked to by the show's villain, Crabby Appleton. But Manfred has his prize revoked as the judge ruled that there is no category for talking dogs.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'' episode "Billy Gets An 'A'", Ms. Butterbean says that the next test will comprise 99.99999999...% of the students' grades.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d on ''WesternAnimation/TheClevelandShow:'' when Robert and Cleveland have a contest to determine who's cooler and Robert wins every round, the announcer, Gus, specifically says the last round will determine the winner "for a little tension." [[spoiler:Cleveland still loses]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', a pro-bending match consists of three rounds that are normally worth one point each; however, if one team manages a knockout (pushing all three players of the opposing team out of the ring, which eliminates them for the remainder of the round), that team wins instantly, regardless of previous score. Cue surprise comebacks in the final round when the opposing team is leading 2:0.
* ''WesternAnimation/NerdsAndMonsters'': In "Monster and Commander", a disguised Dudley challenges Zarg for the leadership of the monsters. The challenge consists of three contests. After winning the first two, he learns that the third contest is a battle to the death, leading him to ask "What was the point of the other two contests?!".

* Audiences often interpret games in this way, e.g. if a soccer player misses an open goal in the first half, it'll be forgotten, but if he misses an open goal in the last second, he'll be blamed for losing the game. Both misses were equally bad, but only the latter is seen as significant.
** It is very easy for the audience to forget (or simply not care) that in order for the one team to lose the game on the 'last play', the other team had to be good enough to get the game to a state where this matters. ie all that happened in the game up to that point actually matters a lot more than the 'last play'
* Two of tennis' four 'grand slam' tournaments, Wimbledon (until 1921) and the US Open (until 1911) both originally had a 'challenge' system in which the winner of the previous year's tournament automatically went straight through to the final of the current year's tournament to face a 'challenger' who had won a knockout of all the other players (and who had often worn themselves out in the process).
* A lot of GAA tournaments are like this: seven or eight teams all play each other, but the top four go to the semi-finals anyway, rendering the opening games kinda worthless.
** Indeed, historically, the team with the most goals won, regardless of the number of points - one imagines points are only valuable as tie-breakers...
* A real-life example is the UsefulNotes/MajorLeagueSoccer playoff format. The first round consists of an aggregate-score two-game home and home series, meaning that teams that have worked hard all year and finished top of their division have no benefit over a lazy team that barely scraped into the playoffs, especially where 8 teams make the playoffs to begin with, in a league that at times had only 13 teams and currently is up to 20. This makes most of the season pointless.
** Something like this happened twice in [[UsefulNotes/TheWorldCup World Cups]]. The famous last game of the 1950 World Cup in Brazil was won by Uruguay, practically negating the hosts' two previous dominating victories over their rivals ''and'' winning the Cup for Uruguay. And in 1982, Italy advanced to the second round as the worst team of the top 12 after drawing their three first games, then went on to win their next four games, including the final match, to become World Champions.
** Belgian soccer championship had a ''very'' convoluted play-off system that theoretically allowed a team that barely avoided relegation in the league to qualify for the Europa League.
* If one really wants to stretch it, ''any'' sports playoffs are inherently worthy of qualifying. Possibly the only "playoffs" that couldn't be considered such was the original baseball World Series, before the LCS and interleague play was instituted. [[note]] How it worked was that the American and National Leagues had no divisions. Each team would play all the other teams in their league the same amount of games with no games against the other league. Whoever had the best record would qualify for the World Series and play the winner of the other league. [[/note]]
** The greater the fraction of teams involved in the playoffs, the less relevant the regular season is, even though the regular season represents many more games. The UsefulNotes/NationalHockeyLeague and the UsefulNotes/NationalBasketballAssociation are particular examples, where teams with losing records regularly qualify. Of course, if the regular-season divisional titles are themselves of value, then there are two separate competitions and it's not a Golden Snitch. European soccer, where the national titles both qualify you for the Champions' League and make you national champion is like this.
** From 1979 to 1991, the NHL had 21 teams, 16 of whom made the playoffs. That means only the bottom quarter of the league lost their chance at a championship. In the 1987-88 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs made the playoffs with a record of 21 wins, 49 losses, and 10 ties. This was the worst playoff-worthy record of the period, but not by much. Thankfully, such teams were too [[PerfectlyCromulentWord blowful]] to make it very far into the playoffs. However, with the current format (top 3 teams from each division + 2 wildcard spots per conference), situations like this are, while still possible (especially if one of the top teams steamrolled their way through the regular season), far less likely.
** The UsefulNotes/CanadianFootballLeague playoffs allow six of the league's nine teams a shot at the championship after playing an ''18-game'' regular season. Before Ottawa got a team back for the 2014 season, it was six of ''eight.'' Between the demise of the Ottawa Renegades in 2006 and the establishment of the Ottawa [[InsistentTerminology REDBLACKS]], it was possible for all four teams in one of the two four-team divisions to make the playoffs if the fourth-place team in one division had a better record than the third-place team in the other (known as the crossover, the fourth-place team fills in the playoff spot of the team it replaces in the opposite division).
** There is a slight advantage to having the second leg of a home-and-away game at home; extra time will be at home, so you could play 90 minutes away and 120 minutes at home, which helps.
** Showing how the playoff discrepancy is high, none of the best regular seasons ever in the Big Four were champions: they were the 2007 New England Patriots ([[Memes/{{Sports}} the infamous "18-1"]], a perfect regular season and two playoff wins that go on to fall short to the Giants in the Super Bowl), the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (62 wins, 7 ties, 13 losses; fell in the conference finals to the Colorado Avalanche, who became the Wings' ArchEnemy for a while; on the bright side, the team finally won the {{Stanley Cup}} the next season), the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116 wins, lost the ALCS to the Yankees), and the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73 wins, 9 losses; managed to climb back from 1-3 in the Conference Finals only to give in a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the decision)[[note]]In an ironic twist, the Warriors also ensured all the four best regular seasons never won; the previous best record was of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10), who had managed to win it all.[[/note]].
* The post-season selection process in American college sports. In UsefulNotes/CollegiateAmericanFootball, poll voters give more weight to late-season results than early season-ones. In other sports, which have impartial committees to select teams for the national championship tournament, the committees freely acknowledge that they prefer teams who are playing well at the end of the regular season. Ergo, late-season games are more important than early-season ones. What makes this so bewildering is that, in the sports that matter (i.e. football and basketball), the latter-half of the Regular Season is ''almost completely devoted'' [[LockedOutOfTheLoop to Conference Play]]![[note]]More so in Basketball than Football by sheer numbers.[[/note]] Meaning that if you're not in an Auto-Qualifier in Football or one of the Powers in Basketball, [[UnwinnableByDesign you're practically screwed]] ''unless'' you carry a (near- in basketball) '''Perfect''' Non-Conference record and then have to get through your Conference schedule trying to avoid a [[Series/WheelOfFortune Bankrupt]].
** Worse than that, teams that have undefeated seasons can not even place in bowl games, on the single matter that their schools aren't big enough to rate television coverage against the big names schools (Notre Dame, any Pac 10) and therefore somehow don't count. Coaches themselves have been on record as saying they don't (or, subvertedly, ''do'') go against unnamed schools, on the fact that games with them don't count.
** The NCAA "March Madness" Basketball tournament can act like this, because of automatic bids. A team that wins its conference tournament automatically gets entered into the big dance. Every team in a conference gets to play in its tournament. In theory, a team can lose ''every single regular season game'' and still win the National Championship.\\
Conversely, the Power Conferences (about 1/4th of the Conferences) usually take several At-Large bids per Conference, so the Conference Tournament is either an afterthought for the best teams, or a chance for one of the lesser schools to steal a bid from the lesser conferences. Inversely, the other 3/4ths are lucky to even get multiple At-Large bids between ''all'' of them, making the Conference Tournament a ''[[SecondPlaceIsForLosers must win]]'' even if you're (otherwise) perfect in-conference!
** The cleanest example of this occurred in the 2011 NCAA football season. For virtually the entire season, Louisiana State was ranked #1 and Alabama was ranked #2. When they met head to head (in Tuscaloosa), LSU won and continued on to win the SEC Championship. Meanwhile, Alabama closed out the season with only the one loss, and was chosen to rematch LSU in New Orleans in the championship game, which they won in a hellacious CurbStompBattle. So the final standings had Alabama as the Undisputed #1 with a 12-1 record, LSU at #2 with a 1'''3'''-1 record, and the season series tied.
* In the 1916 [[UsefulNotes/AustralianRulesFootball VFL]] season, due to UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, there were only four teams competing. Consequently, every team made the Final Four, including Fitzroy, who had won only two games in the regular season. Fitzroy then managed to win all of its games in the finals and take the premiership.
* Kim Jong Il's [[http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20061029-9999-1n29kim.html scoring system]] for basketball gives 8(!) points for scoring in the last 3 seconds. Still, that does double as both making those last few minutes really exciting, as well as giving you good reason to watch all the way to the end.
* The NHL All Stars skills competition has events that are worth 3-5 points each, until the Elimination Shootout- during which 12 players per side each try to score against an opponent's goalie in a penalty shot for one point, and those who score get to shoot again in the once all other players have shot. Of course, this doesn't render the previous rounds completely worthless, as even though no lead is insurmountable, you still need to score the goals in order to make up that ground, so the larger the lead, the more difficult to overcome it.
* In many forms of racing, slipstreaming is a huge factor, to the extent that, in the most extreme circumstances, only the final section of the race can matter
** The most glaring example would be professional cycling. On a flat stage of the Tour de France, the race will almost inevitably follow a certain pattern. A small group of nobodies attacks at the start of the stage, the peloton lets them go and conserves energy, managing the gap. As the stage draws to an end, the peloton draws closer, and eventually catches the exhausted breakaway (the breakaway is often unable to even stay with the peloton once they get overtaken.) Then the sprinters, who have done almost no work all day, attack in the last few hundred metres and win the stage. Of course, in less flat stages the breakaway can succeed, and on the toughest mountain stages, the peloton doesn't exist by the end.
** Slipstreaming can be a huge factor in motor racing too. NASCAR has its two "restrictor plate" tracks (Daytona and Talladega), tracks so long and fast that they have to slow the cars down to race safely; the effect of this is that the cars race around in a pack of 40 cars within 5 seconds of each other, trying to get somewhere near the front for the final few laps of the race. Unsurprisingly when something goes wrong, carnage tends to ensue.
*** For a couple of years, they reduced the effect of the restrictor plates; due to bump-drafting, the races essentially became races between not single cars, but pairs of bump-drafting cars. It was very odd, and because the pair at the front was always slower than the pairs in their slipstream, it was far more entertaining than just watching a vague pack roaring around.
*** Incidentally, the Daytona 500, which is one such restrictor plate race, has the biggest prize money purse on the schedule by far; the 262,390 dollar payout for ''last-place'' in the 2015 edition (the last year for which monetary data is available) is more than some races paid out for ''winning'' them in that same year (one such race being the spring Martinsville event, which paid just over $172,000 to its winner). Some lower end teams have in fact credited just qualifying for the race with keeping them in business for the entire season. NASCAR also once had its own equivalent to the Indy Car's triple crown prize, called the Winston Million, although in this case it involved four races (The Daytona 500, the Winston 500 at Talladega,[[note]]today known as the GEICO 500[[/note]] the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and the original Southern 500 at Darlington) and the million dollars only required three of the events in one year (not that it was any easier to win - only two drivers snagged the Million during the thirteen years it was offered in this form; in 1998 it was reformatted to a more inclusive setup that only required one win, and included the top five from the previous event[[note]]and said events began to be swapped out on a yearly basis; by 2002, when the bonus program ended completely, only the 600 was still a part of it[[/note]]).
** Similar pack racing to this can occur at some of the fastest UsefulNotes/IndyCar ovals; but generally it is considered too dangerous for open-cockpit, open-wheeled cars to race under these conditions. These fears were realised when Dan Wheldon was killed in a 15-car pileup after being launched into the air, over the wall and tragically cockpit-first into the catch fence.
*** There's also the revival of the Triple Crown, which takes the three 500 mile races on the schedule (Indy, Fontana and Pocono) and not only throws a million dollar bonus to anyone who can win them in one year, but also awards double points to all starters. The former was revived for 2013, when Pocono was returned to the schedule for the first time since 1989, and the latter was thrown in after Pocono was extended back to 500 miles for 2014 (the previous year was 400).
** Similar to NASCAR's restrictor plate, Champ Car used to use the "Hanford Device" in order to slow cars down on its fastest tracks. The result was some incredible slingshot-style slipstreaming duels such as [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25bHlzCbLuA this one.]]
** There used to be a small number of UsefulNotes/FormulaOne races that could descend into slipstreaming duels. The most famous were the races at Monza before they slowed the circuit down with chicanes; particularly in 1971 where, after 300km of slipstreaming and overtaking, Peter Gethin went from 4th at the start of the final lap to win by a full 0.01 seconds.
*** Modern F1 has actually has effectively an anti-slipstream: driving close behind an opponent through corners slows you down, because of turbulent (dirty) air affecting aerodynamics. This has made races often very processional; however from 2011 the DRS rule essentially created an artificial slipstream if you get within a second of an opponent, cancelling out the dirty air effect and allowing some stupidly easy overtaking.
*** Believe it or not, Formula One is actually now doing this with ''the entire championship'': for 2014 the final race in Abu Dhabi will be worth 50 points, in an effort to take the championship battle all the way to the end of the season. However, the rule only lasted one year and was abandoned for the 2015 season.
** Almost all forms of car racing, and many forms of motorcyle racing too, now use safety cars, where the race is neutralised because of (say) a crash, bunching the field up. What was originally a rare event has become steadily commonplace; endurance races such as the Daytona 24 hour and the Bathurst 1000 that used to be won by margins of laps can now be won by a carlength due to repeated safety cars.
** Slipstreaming has a major effect in motorcycle racing, and even when it's not a major factor, riders can often form groups on the track because of a vaguely game-theoretic sort of thing where if one guy tries to go faster, the others do too, and everyone is more likely to crash, so they might as well not bother till the end of the race when there's less to lose and you don't have to hold on for so long.
*** MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi was famed for his tactics in one-on-one duels. He would sit comfortably behind his rival, conserving his tyres, and then launch a killer attack on the last few laps. In his prime, he hardly ever lost when he got into a race like this. Sadly, Rossi isn't quite the force he was, and there are fewer races in MotoGP like this any more, for reasons including electronic aids and Rossi's bikes not being very good any more.
* In golf tournaments the actual number of strokes is apparently irrelevant. It's what the score card says. If the golfer signs a score card with more strokes than he actually took, that's his score and if it causes him to lose - tough! If the caddy puts down ''less'' strokes and the golfer signs for it, the golfer is '''disqualified'''. A golfer's honesty is SeriousBusiness.
** Another example in golf has come around with the [=PGA=] Tour's [=FedEx=] Cup structure, a way of breaking the season down into a "regular season" and four-event "playoff" schedule. Thanks to the way the points are awarded in the playoff tournaments (several times their normal value) and reset after the third playoff tournament since 2009, every winner of the [=FedEx=] Cup since its inception in 2007 had either won the final playoffs event, or held the points lead entering the final event, until Justin Thomas in 2017 who overtook Jordan Spieth with a second place finish. (Tiger Woods covered both bases in 2007.)
* Who ''hasn't'' played a sports game recreationally where after a long period of forgetting to keep score, someone suggests "next point wins"?
* The [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_pentathlon Modern Pentathlon]] was a sport invented for the "modern" Olympic games in 1912 and consists of events in shooting, fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and cross-country running ([[NinjaPirateZombieRobot it's that kind of sport]]). The spot is arranged so that all that matters is one's finishing time in the cross country event. The only purpose of the preliminary events is to earn points which then determine how much of a head start you get in the final race.
** In 2009 the shooting and running were combined into a single event. Final time in the race is still all that matters, but failure to shoot accurately can add up to a 50 second delay.
* Greco-roman and freestyle wrestling have something like this. Holding an opponent's shoulders to the mat is a win by fall, and regardless of the score (yes, Greco-Roman wrestling actually has two point systems, one for individual matches and another for dual meets), the win is awarded to the player who pinned the opponent. Furthermore, in dual meets, winning in this way is worth six points for the winning wrestler's team.
* In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase championship format (starting in 2014), winning a single race in the 26 "regular season" races almost guarantees a place in the Chase (the playoffs) as typically multiple races are won by different drivers, usually ensuring there are never more than 16 different winners in a season, and as long as the driver is in the top 30 in points. In the Chase itself, winning a race in a round is an automatic pass to the next round, regardless of the driver's points standings in that round. In the final race of the year at Homestead, the Championship winner has to only place ahead of the remaining three Chase drivers at the end of the race. It is, therefore, theoretically possible for a driver to win a single race during the first 26 to make the Chase but be dead last (30th) in qualifying points, then win a single race in each of the three playoff rounds and not finish the other 6, and then, in the championship race, have the other three Chase drivers crash out on earlier laps, getting the final victory on points without even finishing ''that'' race either.
** There is a rules patch in that you can't just win the first race of the season and then decide that since you're already in the playoffs, you don't need to race again until the first round of the Chase. Besides, the more races you win, the better your "seed" in the Chase. Also, you can't just show up for race 26, win that and qualify for the Chase, either. In 2015, Kyle Busch missed several races after suffering a [[{{GameBreakingInjury}} broken leg]] in the Xfinity Series opener at Daytona. NASCAR ruled that even if he won a race when he returned, he'd have to compete in a certain number of races and accumulate a certain number of points before qualifying for the Chase. Busch came back and won ''several'' races to qualify with ease despite the restrictions. He then managed to survive all the way to Homestead on points alone (no small feat), and ended up winning the Championship by 3 seconds over defending champion Kevin Harvick.
* In [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_boxing Chess Boxing]], the player who scores a checkmate during a chess round automatically wins no matter how they've been doing in the boxing rounds. Conversely, a player who scores a Knockout or Technical Knockout in the boxing rounds wins the match no matter how they've been doing in the chess rounds. And if neither player wins at chess by the time the allotted rounds are up, the winner is determined strictly by boxing rules.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* TruthInTelevision: this is essentially the way British university degrees used to work, and occasionally still do. Better really revise for those final exams, because they're the only thing that counts!
** Occasionally true for Canadian universities, too. One of the worst scenarios involved an 80% final and 20% for assignments (no midterm).
** Universities in general tend to do this; it isn't uncommon for 50% (or more) of the entire grade to rest on a single project or exam, meaning if you screw it up, you fail.
*** The reasoning is to check if the student really understands the material, which is especially important for technical subjects like math and science. Homework, especially in upper division courses, tend to carry <20% of the grade, because it's more useful as a self-check. Plus, unlike most of these examples, an exam is not a binary win/loss condition; an especially poor grade going into the exam means having to do better on it to pass the class.
** Also, for Bachelor's degrees (well, at some unis, at least), your first two years don't matter at all so long as you do well enough to get into Honours, which is the only thing that counts towards the final degree.
*** Up until 2007, this was the ''standard'' in Germany. Then some dumbass had the brilliant idea to change it and suddenly the amount of people failing in university shot through the roof.
** This is still true for many schools and universities in Pakistan. It doesn't matter if you never show up for class, fail all the smaller tests, and never do your homework--so long as you did well on the exams, you passed, as said exams counted for 100% of your final grade.
** Even in cases where the stated percentage isn't as imbalanced, many professors will adjust grades positively if the student shows improvement over time, effectively giving more weight to the later stuff.
* For a doctorate, there are usually about two choke points that actually matter: the written cumulative/qualifying exam(s) and the oral qualifying exam, though whether failing means "try again next time", "terminal masters", or "you're outta here" depends on the school. Nobody ''really'' cares about coursework grades unless you're actually failing (which, in graduate school, means Cs or lower... anyone trying for a postgraduate degree is ''supposed'' to be better than average). Theoretically the dissertation defense is a third, but it's hard to imagine anyone who's managed to make it that far failing unless their committee really has it out for them ... at most, you might be told to make some revisions (and really only even that if something the committee wasn't expecting came to light; revisions are generally suggested on a one-on-one basis before they'll even agree to convene for the defense).
* [=GCSEs=] and A-levels have come in "finals" variants, often resulting in the uncomfortable scenario of getting high marks for a given topic but these not counting for anything, and then not being able to remember it in sufficient detail two years on. There was a period where [=GCSEs=] and A-levels were modular, with grades being based on assessments throughout the course, but [[CyclicTrope this was followed by reforms in 2012 and 2013 which moved the emphasis back to final exams.]]
* In Scotland, it varies depending on the subjects and level of exams, but it's not uncommon for either all or the majority of your final grade to come from the final exams. Appeals based on earlier 'prelims' (sat under exam conditions but don't affect the final grade) are possible, and because you sit exams three times, getting progressively harder, you'll quite often have ''something'' from earlier years even if you fail the later ones, but an awful lot does depend on your performance in the final exam.
** There are also [=NABs=] for some exams - tests which are easier than the actual exam (about C-level questions for most), but which ''you must pass'' if you want to sit the final exam. For most subjects, you get a maximum of two resits (officially; you can sit papers under exam conditions which, if you fail, were 'just practice', but were the real thing if you pass - if the teacher's nice), but three fails and you've failed the course. What makes this worse is that for some subjects (maths is the one used here for examples of numbers, but it's not the only one), the [=NABs=] are based on a number of outcomes which must be passed individually, and with as few as 8 or 10 marks in some outcomes and a required percentage for each outcome to pass the NAB, you can lose 4 or 5 marks in the whole paper and still fail.
* The Irish points system is one of the worst scholarly scoring systems there is. All the work done in five or six years of secondary school mean squat; it all comes down to how well you do in eight to ten 3-hour exams crammed into two weeks at the end of the final year. Just the final year.
** You will note, however, that it's a single exam of the course which determines your final grade, not multiple aspects of the course, one of which is disproportionately graded. A straight example would be some of the courses which examine the student differently, but still disproportionately in favour of the exam: language exams require oral and aural examinations, while some courses require projects to be handed in in advance.
** Subverted with the Leaving Cert Vocational Programme, an optional extra subject that can be taken if the student is doing particular subjects (Mostly business-based subjects, but technical subjects qualify as well). Most of the marks come from the student's portfolio with a final exam being worth significantly less than with other standard subjects.
* The legal profession has this UpToEleven: not only does law school follow the tradition of one final exam determining your entire grade, but, past law school, grades are utterly inconsequential compared to the ''real'' test: passing the bar exam. You need to get through law school in order to be allowed to take the bar (and grades are important for the first job or two post-graduation), but ultimately it doesn't matter how stellar your grades are: if you flunk the bar, you can't practice.
* The pool game of Nine Ball fits this trope perfectly. Unlike Straight Pool, where the winner needs to pocket 150 balls, or Eight Ball, where the 8 can only be pocketed after several other balls have been pocketed (sinking the 8 before that point results in a loss instead of a win), in Nine Ball, only the 9 ball itself truly matters. It's entirely possible for one player to sink most or all of the other balls, yet lose the game when s/he misses a shot and the other player subsequently pockets the 9 (directly if it's the only non-cue ball left on the table, or with a combination shot if it isn't).
* [=ComedySportz=] games are like this, especially at the high school league, in which the referee will award an arbitrary number of points to whoever wins the last game. Of course, since the entire point of [=CSz=] is the improv skills of the actletes and not who actually wins, it doesn't really matter. They lampshade this for all they are worth, acting as though who wins what decides the fate of the world, and even play the theme to ''Chariots of Fire'' at the end. The trophy is, of course, known as the Meaningless Trophy.
** Which takes its lead from both versions of ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway''. The American version even says "Everything's made up and the points don't matter." It's not uncommon for players to get "a billion points" (Quoth Drew Carey: "Eat my dust, [[Series/WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire Regis]]!") or be awarded with things other than points.
* In backgammon, the doubling cube can be used to increase the value of a game. It's basically a "double or nothing" offer: A player offered a double can turn it down, at the cost of losing the current game.
** Worth noting that matches normally run towards 7 points or more and the person receiving the double is the only one allowed to "redouble" his opponent in the same game. A double is usually used to force a game for 1 point, or potentially win 2 points. It takes incredible luck or a very, very poorly handled double for somebody to win in a single game if they're behind 6-0.
* In politics, this too can be the case. 20 years of hard work will still lose to good advertisement more often than not and charisma is a far better tool than achievements. Plus achievements just before the election period seems to count more than achievements done in the start of the term. Let's avoid any particular examples, 'kay? This can be somewhat averted by early voting.
** You can also have the game changers. The ongoing depression is a big one. How well a politician handles it affects people a lot- if the person seems to be saying anything that makes sense, strikes the right tone, people will trust them a lot more, because it's better to show than tell. Your point score before matters a bit, but you might move 10 points up in the votes if you win this final character test.
** The "October Surprise" is a traditional version of this in American politics, especially presidential races. Elections are at the start of November; incidents and/or new information in the final month often render the entire race before that point moot.
*** The 24 hour news cycle means that literally ''anything'' that happens in this period will be treated as a possible game changer, whether or not it actually affects anyone's opinions or is even surprising.
** Statistical analysis of U.S. elections have shown that the change in the unemployment rate over a President's entire four-year term is less predictive of re-election success than the change during the final year alone.
** Because of the Electoral College System, it is entirely possible to only win 23% of the national popular vote and still win the Presidency. This assumes the narrowest possible margin (1 vote decided) in the least populous states (plus DC) until you reach 270 electoral votes (the minimum to win) and you win none of the 10 largest states. Conversely, winning by only the 11 most populous States (Again 270) under the narrowest possible margin in each state, will net you 27% of the national popular vote. This only works on paper. In the former, case, the three least populous states would be D.C. [[note]]By Law, DC cannot have more electors than the least populous state.[[/note]] Wyoming, and Vermont which which are all three solidly for one party (Republican for Wyoming, Democrat for the rest). It's even worse on the second scenario, where the first three States on the list are California ([[StrawLiberal Land of liberal logic]]), Texas ([[StrawConservative Land of Republican logic]]) and [[OnlyInFlorida Florida]] ([[BlueAndOrangeMorality Land where logic of any sort rightfully fears to tread]]). In practice, the popular vote is closer and generally conforms to the electoral winner 95% of the time. Or, at least until Donald Trump won the presidency despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, playing this trope dead straight. ([[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement This caused problems.]])
* In many beauty pageants, one round (in reputable pageants it's generally the interview round, but it can also be the talent round - one imagines that in less reputable pageants it may be the swimsuit round) is worth a disproportionate percentage of contestants' final scores. It isn't ''quite'' as bad as the usual Golden Snitch because one contestant acing the important round doesn't prevent the other contestants from acing it too, making the competition hinge on the other rounds; but if one contestant does much better than the others she can win despite doing worse in all the other rounds, and if a contestant bombs in the important round, it doesn't matter if she aced all the others.
* In U.S. medical schools, grades in the preclinical years (if the school even uses a grading scheme at all) are worth significantly less than clinical year grades and USMLE national exam scores when applying for residency slots after graduation.