Game Show Host
"Hi gang! Pop Quiz here! We ask several historical questions to our players, then act flabbergasted at their overwhelming ignorance!"
Father Time as this Trope on a game show sketch, Histeria!

The visible front end of any Game Show. This is the person who moderates the show and actually runs the game; s/he also enforces the rules (though s/he usually has to defer to off-screen officials for any close judgment calls), engages in small talk with the guests, and keeps the mood light and fun.

Game Show Hosts are popular butts of jokes in fiction. This may have something to do with their need to maintain a jovial atmosphere as previously stated, even when contestants are losing, which might make them seem aloof; or maybe they just come across as slimy and slick, like common depictions of a used car salesman. For whatever reason, fictional game show hosts are often presented as smarmy, obnoxious, untrustworthy opportunists who seem to revel in the misfortune of contestants (a Dead Unicorn Trope, of course). Also, since quiz show hosts know, by necessity, the answer to each question (at least in theory; there are some game shows, like Family Feud and Card Sharks, that don't list the answers on the card), they tend to come off as condescending — perhaps unintentionally, but nonetheless. They also tend to be almost exclusively male; women on a game show's staff are more likely to be lovely assistants.

Despite their reputation, some hosts become legendary if they have a specific gimmick to them, or they end up coming off as sincerely wanting a contestant to win big. Since, in most instances, it's not his money he's giving away, the host is more or less rooting for the contestant, even if it's only in the back of his mind. To some hardcore game show fanatics, the skills of the host (and his sincerity) can make or break a show's success, and they seem to be right: Some of the more successful game shows are known in part for how the host carried the show along.

There has been a recent (not new) trend, at least for high-profile American programs, to cast has-been D-listers and comedians as Game Show Hosts.

Notable Game Show Hosts include:

Fictional Game Show Hosts:

  • Guy Smileynote , a Muppet performed by Jim Henson on Sesame Street. Others included Sonny Friendly.
  • Damon Killian, host of The Running Man in the 1987 film, played by Richard Dawson! (In the original Stephen King book, his name is Dan Killian and he's the producer rather than the host. In the movie, he's the show's host and creator.)
  • Mike Terry, host and play-by-play announcer of The Prize of Peril in the short story of the same name by Robert Sheckley (written in 1958).
  • Mr. Wink, the host of the Japanese game show in The Simpsons episode "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo", voiced by George Takei.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, an American game show host named "Bing Baxter" supplies the voice for Lister's Confidence-made-flesh. Which show Mr. Baxter hosted is never revealed. (Ironically, the part was played by Craig Ferguson, who currently hosts Celebrity Name Game)
  • The webcomic Pibgorn features a demon who takes the name and appearance of a game show host named Tom Torquemada.
  • Chip Ramsey, the Hollywood Cyborg host of Lexi-Cross.
  • The unnamed host of Smash TV who is also the Big Bad, since he is the last boss you battle.
  • Swanky Kong from the Donkey Kong Country series is a game show host in DKC2 and DKC3. In the former, he hosts a quiz named "Swanky's Bonus Bonanza", were you can win extra lives by answering the given questions correctly. In the latter, he hosts "Swanky's Sideshow", a throwing game were you compete against Cranky Kong. If you beat him, you will win bananas and Bear Coins.
  • The Mario series has a few of these, including Chuck Quizmo in Paper Mario and Game Guy in Mario Party 3.
  • Gruntilda plays the part of one in the game show–like sections of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, respectively Grunty's Furnace Fun and the Tower of Tragedy.
  • In the opening scene of Once Upon a Mattress, the Wizard tests Princess No. 12 in quiz show fashion.
  • The many hosts of the You Don't Know Jack games, including fan favorite Cookie Masterson.
  • In Shrek, the magic mirror presents Lord Farquaad with his potential princess mates using the format of The Dating Game.
  • The unnamed host of "Numberwang", the Calvinball-esque game show featured on That Mitchell and Webb Look.