Bowling for Ratings

Ah, bowling! The sport of the common man. Generally when TV shows portray someone as an everyday working class hero, the writers make him a member of a bowling team. Could result in just references to a team, a singular bowling episode or a chance for a character to be Bested At Bowling. Trope name is a parody of Bowling for Dollars, a syndicated American Game Show format of The '70s.

Can often produce drama via a 300 scoring 'perfect game'.

Sometimes, a Canadian series will have that country's distinctive five pin variant: five pins with rubber rings around the wide bottom and smaller balls with no finger holes. But neither Canada nor the United States will ever show any other type of bowling (sorry, candlepin and duckpin lovers).

The following shows have had episodes involving bowling:

  • 21 Jump Street: Hanson is an avid bowler and a member of a bowling league.
  • 7th Heaven: Eric delays telling the family that he needs an open-heart surgery, so he decides the family should go bowling.
  • Cheers: The Cheers gang takes on Gary's in a bowling match.
  • Dead Like Me: George joins Happy Time Temp Agency's bowling team in one episode. There's also the Plague Division of reapers from the extended pilot, which spends its time lawn bowling and intently watching rodents for signs of another epidemic.
  • Dexter: Dexter joins a bowling team in Season 2. His biological father also became an avid bowler after turning his criminal life around.
  • Eureka: An episode had the show's bowling league playing against that of Area51.
  • Hey Arnold!: Arnold and Gerald form a bowling team for a competitive league in "Coach Wittenburg".
  • King of the Hill: In one episode Peggy is afraid to go bowling since her embarrassing shoe size would be displayed on the heel.
  • The King of Queens: Doug and Carrie and their friends Deacon and Kelly are on a bowling team.
  • Malcolm in the Middle had one of the best examples of this, with a Rashomon type episode showing what would happen if Lois took the boys bowling, or if Hal took them instead.
  • M*A*S*H: The 4077th takes on a group of Marines in a bowling match.
  • Married... with Children: Al is an avid bowler. One whole episode is devoted to him trying to bowl a perfect game.
  • The Mr. Men Show: The episode "Games" had a segment where Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Stubborn went bowling.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Cutie Mark Crusaders attempt to get bowling cutie marks at the start of The Cutie Pox. Their success ranged from gutterballs to everyone ducking for cover with ricocheting balls flying about.
  • The Office (US): Where Ryan is working when Michael recruits him for The Michael Scott Paper Company.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Leslie hosts an appearance at the bowling alley as part of her campaign for city council (and to show up someone who criticized her in a focus group).
    • Ron actually bowls a perfect 300 game, but used Tom's childish double handed split leg throw, he refuses any honours.
  • Regular Show: Skips Strikes. In typical RS fashion, the game's stakes are taken ridiculously high thanks to Rigby betting the team's souls in a bowling match against Death and his accomplices.
  • Veronica Mars: Season three features a painful-if-you've-been-in-this-situation "not a date" bowling episode.