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Headscratchers: Game Shows In General
  • The most irritating thing about game shows today is the pacing. If you took out all the contestants' agonizing over their (usually completely arbitrary) decisions and the hosts' (allegedly) dramatic pause before revealing the answer or amount or what-have-you, you could probably shave half the run-time off most game shows.
    • It's been done. As an extreme example, somebody trimmed an episode of Deal or No Deal down to 2 minutes, 46 seconds. Minute to Win It practically lampshades this by playing ten one-minute minigames in an hour-long show.
      • Ehh no, don't forget about the possibility of failing up to 3 times
    • In some situations/shows (Deal or No Deal comes to mind) they may be agonizing because people are notoriously horrible at math. Go go back a few decades, look at the Monty Hall Problem. That was a real thing, people used to drive themselves nuts making the choice despite the fact the math is very, very clear on the matter.
  • Why have the vast majority of game shows had only "parting gifts" for their losing contestants, unless it was a show where, regardless of the outcome, players were able to keep the money and prizes credited to them? Wouldn't those contestants rather have been paid in cash?
    • The parting gifts are provided free by sponsors. Cash, on the other hand, would come from the show's budget.
    • The creative minds behind Jeopardy! actually discovered the hard way what happens if you keep the cash: nobody tries to win. Final Jeopardy! would just be a lot of low-level bidding, which usually happens when the non-winning scores matter (see just about any tournament they run).
    • It is still preferable to the "everyone but the winner leaves with nothing" format, which became popular a few years back. And some shows (like Friend or Foe) couldn't even promise that.
    • This troper thinks that part of the charm of Countdown is that the loser gets a massive goody-bag of stuff, but all the winner gets is the chance to come back for the next show as the defending champion (mind you, if they win eight times on the trot, they get a bunch of extra stuff including the coveted Countdown teapot).
      • Moreover, on the most "prestigious" British gameshows, there is often no valuable prize at all. On Mastermind, for example, the final winner gets a cut-glass bowl as a trophy; there are no other prizes. This troper was once a Mastermind semi-finalist, and would have used the trophy as his kitchen fruit bowl if he'd won.
  • In Deal or No Deal, why don't the contestants just ask for their box to be opened at the beginning and save half an hour of endless applause and pointless banter with Noel Edmonds?
    • Assuming it's not a gimmick episode, admittedly a hard thing to assume nowadays, half of the cases in the US version contain under $1000. It is rare to see an episode where the offer never goes above $50,000 at least once. Thus, under the far more difficult to assume logic that the player is rational and knows that the odds of having the million dollars are slim, taking a timely offer is almost always preferable to receiving the contents of the first case. And that's before you consider that immediately handing out case contents damages both the watchability and budget of the show.
    • You don't seem to understand the point of the game show, do you? Think about it as a condensed, simplified auction, with the case you chose as the item being bid on. Like in an auction, you're trying to get the best deal out of the case, while the banker is trying to give you the worst deal possible (in this case, he's trying to get you to "sell" the case for the lowest amount possible, while you're trying to get the million dollars or failing that make the most money off of your case). Since each case you bump off from the pool affects the banker's offer, and there's always the possibility you can get the banker to buy your case for exponentially more than what it's actually worth, the point is to try and outwit the banker and walk away with as much money as you can. Opening up the case you pick right off the bat would be pointless, since it won't give you a chance to improve your options and earn more money; you'll be stuck with whatever you chose, and would you want to go on a game show only to have it end five seconds later with your grand winnings being less than a thousand bucks? I don't think so.
    • If you know a bit of math (I won't bore you with the details) you can figure out that the deals get progressively better (relatively) as the game goes on, so its to your advantage to drag things out.
    • It bugs me that in the American version, the contestants always refuse the deals, and end up getting a lot less than if they had agreed to an earlier deal. It wouldn't bug me if it was once in a while, but it's EVERY FUCKING TIME.
      • And I wince every time a contestant says "I came here to win a million dollars" as justification. Just a reminder: you have a 1-in-26 chance of picking the million0dollar suitcase, and even if it lasted that long, most people would rather have five hundred grand than play a coin flip between a million dollars and...say, less than a hundred thousand.
      • What bugs me even more is the justification "I came here with nothing". So that means you're okay with throwing away a definite $10,000 or so at a 1-in-6 shot at $100,000? This game is a load of bollocks.
      • Actually the expected value of a 1/6 chance of $100,000 is greater than $10,000. This is more relevant for repeated playing though
    • Why do contestants listen to the audience in the first place? The family occasionally acts as a voice of reason, but the audience are a bunch of bastards who are always willing to put your winnings at risk.
  • In The Moment Of Truth, what's the point of lying? The show knows all of your secrets and will tell everyone whether you deny it or not.
    • Exactly. You'll lose the game, walk away with no money, be humiliated on national television, and probably ruin several lives (including your own) to boot. Sheez.
    • Well, lie detectors are unreliable anyway. Which is evidenced by the fact that before they reveal whether or not the person answered truthfully, the PERSON THEMSELF is waiting apprehensively, leading me to conclude that either the setup is stupid or they themselves don't know if the answer that THEY GAVE was truthful.
    • For that matter, who would want to go on national television just to be humiliated? Why is this show even on the air anyway?
      • Because people will do the most jackasstic things possible to gain fame and fortune. Trust me. This is not even close to limited to national television.note 
      • The best case for this is probably the British game show Beat the Crusher, where you have to surrender possessions on the way in and your prize is ... getting them back.
      • Also applies to the US game shows Trashed and Big Deal. To be fair to all of them, they had prizes as well as just not seeing your possessions destroyed - In the case of Crusher, the prize was a new car, with your car at risk of being destroyed. However, the rules to some of the games on Crusher were absolutely what the above Troper noted, and the host would randomly destroy people's possessions for the fun of it as well.
  • How do they keep the losing contestants so happy? I'd imagine a at least a few people would be pretty pissed if they flew all the way to LA only to return home with absolutely nothing. Yet everybody smiles and cheers as they watch their thousands/millions drift away.
    • Depends on the show a lot of them bring contestants to LA all expenses paid, so if nothing else they've gotten a really nice vacation. Those that pick randomly from the studio audience tend to be fast-paced enough that contestants barely get to think of it as theirs before they win/lose.
      • Kids really get it nice. This Troper knows somebody who was on Teen Jeopardy. She got brought to LA "all expenses paid" and got some spending money in case the airport lost her luggage. Also, since it was a tournament, she was guaranteed $5,000 no matter if she won her first round or not. However, this Troper also knows somebody who's trying out for Jeopardy adults pay their own way there, but they get thousand, I think, if they come in third.
      • This Troper was on Jeopardy! you have to pay your own airfare, but the show arranges a steep discount with a very nice hotel and provides transportation to and from the studio. The third-place contestant receives $1000, and the second-place contestant receives $2000. The winner keeps their winnings and returns for the next show. Everybody gets a nice bag and a customized frame containing a picture of them with Alex Trebek.
  • In Legends of the Hidden Temple, why did those kids have so much trouble with the Shrine of the Silver Monkey puzzle? It's only three pieces!
    • To this Troper, it always looked like it was a bitch to put together.
    • It may have been three pieces, but consider this: the contestants are under a strict time limit, and there's a number of ways that each of the pieces can be placed (though only one solution). They just don't have the time to flounder around, trying to figure out which piece goes where in which position. By that logic, the kids also had problems with the King's Storeroom, Medusa's Lair, and the Room of the Sacred Markers.
  • Ninja Warrior. Some of the contestants' occupations baffle me. There have been people on that show who work as gas station attendants, laundromat employees, and burger flippers, and they're all ripped like Jet Lee. I know it's not exactly's just not something you see everyday.
    • Maybe Japan likes to take better care of themselves than here in the US. Then again, some of those people that have crazy occupations don't get too far on the first round due to Ninja Warrior focusing on making the game Unwinnable.
      • While it's true most don't make it through two obstacles, the gas station attendant (Shingo Yamamoto) is one of the best players around, is the only player to be there every tournament, and is expected to win it eventually.
    • Some people happen to use a lot of their spare time keeping themselves in good shape instead of merely decent shape (and sometimes have a non-paying local volunteer job like teaching sports or martial arts), and the ones that enter Ninja Warrior often spend much of their "spare" time training specifically for Ninja Warrior. It's not that ripped people are common in such occupations, it's just that you don't see out-of-shape people competing seriously on ninja warrior and that sort of occupation happens to be more common (and more likely to care about going through so much just to win a tournament than someone with a job that already made them rich and/or famous).
  • What bugs me about Jeopardy! over the last several years is how they rank the highest-scoring players. Since they doubled the clue values, they've ranked post-doubled era winners right alongside winners from the pre-doubled era! As if they all made the same $50,000 under the same conditions! That's like ranking "New SAT" scores along with test from the original SAT! There has to be consistency in measurement!
    • Generally, they double the scores for the official rank.
  • What has happened to the cheery, colorful sets? Why do most game shows need to be all dark, black, and mysterious now?
    • I guess that's just the new thing these days. Dark and mysterious goes hand-in-hand with suspense and fear, therefore putting more pressure on the contestants and making the viewers stay on the edge of their seat.
      • Been a while since I've seen a new British show aim for that aesthetic, so we might be coming out of the woods - Though quite a few shows have gone for some sort of Serious Contest aesthetic, so the classic Cheap And Cheerful outside of daytime is probably not going to come back soon.
    • I blame it on the success of The Weakest Link, myself.
      • Wasn't it really Millionaire that started this whole trend?
      • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? looked more like a high budget version of the old Big Money Glitz than dark, black and mysterious, which risks looking tacky in other shows because it costs a lot of money to pull that look off properly... The darkness in that set seems more to contrast with the silver and the mirrors than anything else.
  • Are you really that sorry that the contestant didn't win, Generic Game Show Host #46290? Why don't you give them something other than your condolences? Perhaps from that stream of money that's coming your way because not everyone is winning the million-dollar prize? And don't blame luck either, host if everyone was "lucky" enough to win the big prize, then game shows that keep you employed would not exist.
    • What exactly do you want them to say? "Fuck you, loser, get off my set"? They're just being a bit nice.
      • Usually. I recall a bit of gloating from the host on Win Ben Stein's Money.
      • Sounds like a couple of you would be really happy with the way Distraction handles things, then.
      • In all fairness, it seems to me Ben Stein's gloating would be somewhat justified... you are playing to win his money, after all.
  • The one that grates me is how boring the all or nothing format is, either as a main . With option to back out, there's interest, without it, such as The Million Pound Drop it's just... The only thing that matters is the final question, and the rest of the game is completely pointless.
    • That's really not true at all. The whole point of the game is trying to hold on to as much money as possible throughout the eight questions. If you cut out the first 7 questions then it's just one question for a million. That's not the point of the game at all.
  • I just don't get my fellow Americans' response to shows like The Million Pound Drop. The whole point of the game is survival and drama. The 8 questions (god knows why they changed it to 7 for our version) provide a fantastic narrative. As we watch the game unfold and the teams get closer and closer to claiming thousands and thousands of pounds, we really start to feel for the team. When a team has gone far in the game and has held on to a fortune, it's impossible not to get drawn in. Also, the first 7 questions are not pointless. It's not a game of trying to accumulate as much money as possible, but one where you try to lose as little as possible. The first 7 questions are all about deciding how much rests on the final question, and if you'll get to it at all. Walk-aways would not work in this show at all. Sorry, I'm done ranting now.
  • OK I know The Points Mean Nothing (or close to nothing), but maybe worth a mention anyway. On Would I Lie to You?, it seems that someone telling the truth is at a disadvantage since the point of the game is to convince the opposing team what you're saying is true. However they'll get a point if they correctly guess it's true. It's a head-scratcher in itself that it would seem the right thing to do here is to try to convince the other team you're lying without actually lying. They never seem to do this though and it would seem to defeat the purpose of the game. Lampshaded by David in one episode where Lee tried to prove his statement.
    • I think it's just that it's a harder skill to successfully disguise a true story. It involves thinking an extra step ahead. Trying to convince someone that a lie is true is a familiar activity to most of us; trying to convince someone that we want them to think we're telling the truth when really we want them to think we're lying because we are telling the truth would be a bit of a Mind Screw. And though the host never says so, the contestants have said a few times — plus it's just a common-sense necessary rule — that if the claim on the card is true as far as it goes, they're required to tell the truth in all the details too, because if they were allowed to make stuff up it would make the game unfair. So that limits their options somewhat. (Although Vic Reeves evidently didn't feel himself bound by this rule, and I guess there's really no way to enforce it.) I'd say this is more the fault of the team doing the judging, who often seem to assume every story is trying to sound true, than on the person doing the telling, because you can sometimes see people's efforts to make a true story sound false, whether skillfully (Stephen Mangan estimating the date of his story at "the late eighties... '83?") or really obviously (Janet Street-Porter reading her card with caveman-like difficulty to prove she'd never seen it before).

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