"Win money or fall down a hole."Game Show Trope where eliminated contestants, instead of merely being bid farewell, are forcefully ejected from the studio. Differs from a Walk of Shame, but often times no less humiliating. Generally, the contestants are not even given time to speak before they are removed. Ejections can range from being dropped through a simple Trap Door in the floor, to being disintegrated via CGI, to being launched off the edge of a cliff. The Ur-Example may have shown up in older Western Animation features with singing or talent contests, which inevitably had horrible contestants; their performances generally ended with the judge pulling a lever to open a trap door underneath the contestant. Note that this does not include shows like Match Game, where losing contestants remain seated at a part of the stage used for the upfront game that rotates or moves out of the camera's sight as the winner prepares to play the Bonus Round. Compare Drop the Cow and Vaudeville Hook, for similar usage in dealing with overly long or bad stage acts.
—Tag line for Russian Roulette
- Showdown, a 1966 Heatter-Quigley game show, is the Trope Maker. Teams of contestants competed to answer questions in a format similar to what would be used on Hot Potato, with players who answered wrong being dropped through the floor and eliminated from the game.
- Musical Chairs, a 1975 game show hosted by Adam Wade, featured eliminated contestants being pulled backwards through a wall while still in their chairs during the final round.
- The Video Game (1984) featured the Res-Off Round, in which contestants had to navigate the Lovely Assistant through a maze of lighted squares; guiding her to a wrong square resulted in the contestant being "de-resed" (made to "disappear" by means of special camera effects).
- Remote Control, the late-80's MTV game show; similar to Musical Chairs (but much more violent) and possibly the Trope Codifier. Contestants who were in last place when the TV went "Off the Air" in the second round were pulled back through the wall while being taunted by the host and announcer and serenaded with a Crowd Song by the audience.
- Russian Roulette, where contestants answering incorrectly were forced to pull a handle in hopes that a rotating light would not land on their "drop zone" and eliminate them by the Trap Door beneath them opening and sending them through the floor.
- Downfall, where potential prizes were sent over the edge of a building via Conveyor Belt-O-Doom; elimination resulted in the contestant likewise being sent over (in a controlled fall, of course).
- Distraction featured this occasionally, in particular when the challenge involved wrestlers, nudists, or roller derby girls; the contestant who lost this round was picked up and carried off by these individuals.
- Who's Still Standing? recycled the "hole in the floor" concept from Russian Roulette. One contestant (the "Hero") stood on a Trap Door on the center of the stage and faced off against a circle of ten competitors also standing on trap doors (the "Strangers") in a series of trivia duels. Eliminated contestants dropped ten feet into a padded room below the stage. If the Hero decided to walk away at one point and keep his or her winnings, (s)he then had the option of either walking out of the studio or by dropping through the floor. Every episode ended with host Ben Bailey (of Cash Cab fame) also dropping through the Hero's trap door.
- The SyFy game show Total Blackout uses the mechanic in a slightly different way. After each round, the remaining contestants stand in front of trap doors and, on Jaleel White's command, are told to jump onto them. The contestant with the least amount of points in the round drops out of the game, while the other contestants' doors stay shut.
- BrainSurge: Contestants locked in their guesses during the second round by sitting on a chair covered in Whoopee Cushions. The first two players to answer incorrectly were greeted by farts and then pulled backwards through paper "teeth" on a giant model of the host's face.
- Came up just before the Jack Attack in the TV series of You Don't Know Jack, where the eliminated contestant would be made to disappear using a CGI effect.
- Inverted by Masters of the Maze, where the member of the winning team that had run the maze was disintegrated into a floating ball of particles via CGI and sent on a "special journey" through the set and into the game's giant monitor.
This trope serves as the main premise of the following:
- One Hundred And One Ways To Leave A Gameshow: Exactly What It Says on the Tin; each eliminated contestant was ejected in whatever bizarre way the producers could come up with.
- Exit, a show on SyFy where contestants had to answer questions to escape from rooms filled with Malevolent Architecture that would otherwise end up "killing" them.
- Ejector Seat, a UK offering in which contestants who answer questions incorrectly move backwards in their chairs toward the end of a long track; during this, they are bombarded with questions, and a correct answer will stop the chair, but if they reach the end by failing to stop their chairs, they are tipped backwards and ejected from the studio in a cloud of smoke. If a contestant survives the all or nothing final round, they get ejected anyway.
- "Know or Go", a game played on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Contestants are placed in a high platform and asked simple trivia questions; one wrong answer and a Trap Door dropped the contestant inside the platform. Most of the fun came from the contestants sweating it out as Ellen delayed the drop.
- In this example, though, just because you're the last player standing, it doesn't mean you're safe. Ellen will continue through the stack until you miss one, which means even if you're the winner, you get dropped anyhow.
Non-game show examples:
- A cereal commercial from the late 80's or early 90's showed several people in a dark room seated around a table, with a voice asking them about the ingredients in the cereal; the ones that said "salt" and "sugar" were speedily dropped through the floor.
- One of the CD-ROM games based on The Magic School Bus takes place in the Costa Rican rainforest. One bit includes a game show hosted by a vain jaguar, asking questions about the wildlife. The contestants, representing various jaguar prey species, are launched into the air and straight into the waiting host's mouth upon answering incorrectly. The final contestant gets his answer right, "but I am still hungry, so I'll eat you anyway!"