Retired Game Show Element
Many Game Shows, once they take off and become enduring hits, will try to add new gameplay elements to the show to keep it fresh and interesting. Sometimes, these new elements will work; other times, they just don't for one reason or another:
- Maybe the elements weren't fully fleshed out, or simply weren't that interesting.
- Perhaps they were removed in an attempt at freshening up the show, for ratings, or simply because management said so.
- Or it could've been an either-or situation where nearly everyone chose the same option due to Complacent Gaming Syndrome.
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- Double Dare had a number of stunts and obstacles retired after the first couple appearances. Most notable is how, for one episode, they tried replacing the pies in the "Catch the Pies in your Large Clown Pants" challenge with G.I. Joe figures. This led to a contestant's broken nose and the idea was dropped.
- Initially, in Family Feud, whoever rang in with the higher answer could choose to have their family play the question or pass it to the other family. At least 99% of the time, "play" was chosen. This situation was even parodied in MAD Magazine's "Family Fools" - A contestant offered the choice asks what happens if he picks 'pass', Richard Dawson admits he has no idea since it almost never happens. The play/pass option was retired for the 1988-95 revival, but returned when the current version began in 1999.
- Feud used a Bullseye round from 1992-95 and 2009-10. All five family members played survey questions ranging from $500-$2,500 in value (doubled in the second half/syndicated version), and whoever gave the top answer had that question's value added to the family's jackpot (how much they'd play for if they got to Fast Money). Bankroll (1994-95) only used three questions, and one person from each family went up to answer all three.
- To a lesser extent, before the introduction of the Bullseye round, the values in the main game were all in dollars, meaning a losing family would walk away with more than just some nice prizes — the dollars they earned were theirs to keep. Once Bullseye debuted, the dollars became points because, as Ray Combs once put it, "the dollars are in your [Bullseye] bank." Even when the show returned in 1999, the main game has inexplicably clung to using points, nullifying the purpose of the change.
- The style of clue-writing on Jeopardy! has generally evolved over time such that the simple answer-to-a-question prompts have been mostly replaced with longer clues featuring secondary facts. One style of clue that's entirely disappeared is the list of items with a common bond (save for the rare "Common Bonds" type category, of course). An example from the 1987 Teen Tournament:
Answer: Defacing books or shouting or throwing spitballs at the other readersQuestion: What are three activities prohibited in the library?
- For a time in 1997, Jeopardy! tried "Bonus" categories, which were clues written to have two correct responses. Anyone who rang in with a correct response could try for the second right answer (for the same value), or offer the other right answer for another contestant. These were only used three times.
- At about the same time, the show used categories where, because of some sort of narrative used by the category, the clues were required to be chosen in order (as if they wouldn't be taken in order anyway). These also faded out of fashion in a few weeks.
- When the show returned in 1984, one notable change was that only the contestant who won the game got to keep the money they won — the other players left with a Consolation Prize. Beginning on May 16, 2002, the show replaced the prizes with $1,000 for third place and $2,000 for second place.
- In 2003 (season 20), the five-day limit for champions was lifted as well...just in time for Ken Jennings to make his legendary 75-game run.
Let's Make A Deal
- The 1984-86 All-New Let's Make a Deal featured a "Door #4" element that would pop up at a random time over the course of each episode. A random contestant would be chosen via the "People Picker Computer" and have the opportunity to make a deal with Monty.
- Originally, this was a choice between a prize and a mystery amount ranging from $100-$5,000 behind said door.
- Shortly into the run, Door #4 became a 20-space carnival-style "Deal Wheel" with spaces ranging from Zonks to a new car. The wheel had a few different layouts as the series progressed.
- The Wayne Brady version revived both elements, albeit as separate games: the People Picker as "Now Serving", the Deal Wheel as "Go For a Spin".
- In early 1974, a contestant going to the Super Match in consecutive times could not call on a celebrity for the head-to-head match that had already been called. This was rescinded a couple of weeks later.
The Price Is Right
The current version of The Price Is Right began with only five pricing games, and has constantly taken games in and out of the rotation over time. Along with modifying the number of games in the rotation, some of the active games had their rules altered over time:
- Bullseye (debuted 1976; unofficially called "Bullseye '76") originally had a range of $5-$10 with $9-$10 as the bullseye, and to make matters worse only the closest "hit" qualified for finding the Hidden Bullseye. The former became $1-$6/$5-$6 on November 11, then the current $2-$12/$10-$12 on February 3, 1989.
- Check Game (debuted 1981; known as "Blank Check" until January 1987) began with a win range of $3,000-$3,500, which became $5,000-$6,000 on February 3, 1989 and the current $7,000-$8,000 on September 23, 2008.
- Cliff Hangers (debuted 1976) used four small prizes for its first eight playings.
- Dice Game (debuted 1976) was far more difficult, as the car's price wasn't limited to the numbers on a standard six-sided die. The normal rules debuted sometime between January 31 and June 23, 1977.
- Gas Money (debuted 2008), for its first season, was Trivia Trap meets Deal or No Deal: the player chose the car's price first, then won money by picking off the wrong prices one at a time; the hook was that the first decision made was always hanging over the player's head.
- Half Off (debuted 2004) has a $1,000 bonus for winning all three sets of small prizes, but it originally had no cash bonus at all. From Seasons 36-38, a $500 bonus was added for each set the player won.
- Punch-a-Bunch (debuted 1978) originally involved punching out a number, and then another slip with either "thousand", "hundred", or "dollars" before just switching to slips with amounts on them.
- Range Game (debuted 1973) has always had the $600 scale but debuted with a $50 rangefinder. This was upped to $100 sometime between April 17 and May 8, then to the current $150 by June 8.
- In general, almost all games which involve pricing items within a certain range (e.g. Grocery Game, Check-Out) have had that range expanded every so often to account for inflation.
- Add 'em Up (1986-88): Too hard and supposedly disliked by the staff.
- Balance Game (1984-85; unofficially "Balance Game '84"): Was considered too confusing.
- Bullseye (1972; unofficially "Bullseye '72"): The fifth game ever played on the show, ousted after the ninth episode because it was nigh Unwinnable. They tried adding a $500 range, playing for a boat, and even ditching the range in favor of rounding the price to the nearest $10; didn't work.
- Bump (1985-91): Likely retired because of Bob's fallout with model Dian Parkinson, who gave the game its own spin by giving the contestants and Bob backrubs and wriggling her hips provocatively while handling the props.
- Buy or Sell (1992-2008): Too many contestants were confused by it; supposedly disliked by the staff. Has a Spiritual Successor in the form of More or Less, which is much easier thanks to the more straightforward rules.
- Clearance Sale (1998-2009): Too similar to Eazy Az 1 2 3.
- Credit Card (1987-2008): Supposedly withdrawn to be "revamped for HD", although Richards claimed in June 2011 that it is not retired and its status remains unclear. Amusingly, the game was played for nearly a full year after the titular card's "expiration date" of December 2007.
- Double Bullseye (1972): Two-player Re Tool of Bullseye that required a fourth One-Bid and guaranteed a car giveaway. Ironically, the game ended in less than seven guesses at least twice, suggesting that Bullseye might not have been quite as unwinnable as originally thought. The game actually debuted on Dennis James' nighttime version, which was well-known for experimenting with the established games.
- Double Digits (1973): Played once with one set of rules, resulting in a win; played four more times with a second set of rules, resulting in losses. Incidentally, its game board was actually a cover put on the front of the prop used for Bullseye and Any Number (both games were a single board with different faceplates, very likely because the show initially didn't have much of a budget).
- Finish Line (1978): Mechanical problems, despite a favorable 12-4 record; while it's also too similar to Give or Keep, it appears to have been intended as the latter's replacement.
- Fortune Hunter (1997-2000): Too few wins (about 33%, including the entirety of its final season of use), took too long to play, and the rules were often confusing for contestants.
- Gallery Game (1990-91): Essentially Pick-a-Number with an overly tacky "art gallery" motif, too few wins.
- Give or Keep (1972-90): The staff just didn't like it; Roger Dobkowitz had planned a Season 38 comeback until he was sacked.
- Hit Me (1980-2006): Deemed too confusing; the lack of a consistent rule regarding Aces held by the House, whose ruling seemed to hinge on Barker's mood, certainly didn't help.
- Hurdles (1976-83): Too mechanically complex for its own good, malfunctioning frequently towards the end.
- It's Optional (1978-83): Required knowing the price of various car options, which was asking way too much of contestants; to be fair, it had a 60% win rate and left the rotation on a close win.
- Joker (1994-2007): Drew Carey didn't like that it could be lost even if the contestant played the pricing portion perfectly, which happened several times. note
- Make Your Mark (1994-2008; originally Barker's Marker$): Retired one playing into Season 37 after Drew screwed up the rules. Rather than correct him, the staff decided to make his mistake the "new rules"...then ousted the game right after that taping.
- Mystery Price (1973-74): Too confusing and complicated, despite a favorable 11-6 win record.
- On the Nose (1984-85): Car game that focused on sports-related stunts (the pricing aspect determined how many chances the player got, although guessing the right price won $1,000), which ended up being quite a loss magnet.
- On the Spot (2003-04): Confusing rules, awkward setup, and a low win percentage. A change for its last two playings to not even use all the small prizes, while resulting in wins, didn't exactly help.
- Penny Ante (1979-2002): Subject to breakdowns (a problem that only got worse in its final season, although its last playing had no such malfunctions plus the contestant won with no mistakes), and a rainstorm destroyed the prop while in storage. The staff had planned to rebuild it, but never got around to it and announced its retirement in Spring 2007.
- For its first five uses, Penny Ante was played very differently: the correct prices could be anywhere (with an arrow pointing to the item that it was the price of), and each wrong guess added that amount of pennies to a "catcher" at the bottom of the board. A display on top of the game kept track of how many pennies had been accumulated, and the game was lost if $1 was "saved up".
- The Phone Home Game (1983-89): Took too long to play, plus not enough interest or ratings to justify its usage. Appeared to go into its usual yearly hiatus in 1989, but no Home Viewer Showcase appeared until April 1990 ("Summer Fun", the last Home Viewer Showcase until March 2011).
- Poker Game (1975-2007): Truncated rules of Poker and a format whose nature forbade prizes more than $999. It's also the oldest game to never offer a car.
- Professor Price (1977): A setup which had almost nothing to do with the show's core format of identifying prices (trivia questions that had numbers as answers, then determining whether that number was in the price of the car) and a win structure that required getting at least one of the trivia questions right. To be fair, while it was only played twice (November 14 and 21, 1977) it was won on both playings, making it the only pricing game with a perfect record.
- Shower Game (1978): Boring car game with no actual strategy and a rather large set (it stretched from the Turntable to Door #3!); a viewer's complaint that it reminded them of the Holocaust probably didn't help.
- Split Decision (1995-97): Considered too confusing, despite being played more frequently than Any Number (same prize types) during its lifespan. A contestant who stretched the 20-second format to its limit and knocked off two number cards didn't particularly help matters, either; neither did testing a "three tries" format on May 24 and 30, 1996. Its final playing (January 16, 1997) likely sealed the nail in the coffin after the contestant guessed $512 for the dishwasher on two occasions.
- Super Ball!! (1981-98): Skeeball-type game that often took far too long to play for too little payout, particularly if balls got stuck. Sometime between October 1986 and May 20, 1987, they began showing the first three small prizes together rather than one at a time, which streamlined the first half of the game but didn't help in the long run. Also very blooper-prone.
- $uper $aver (1989-96): Retired at Bob's request after he forgot a crucial rule (that even after picking the marked-up item it was still "mathematically possible" to win) and the contestant complained that his forgetting said rule caused her to lose. Also plagued with mechanical problems, usually regarding the "BANK" display.
- Telephone Game (1978): A car game where the contestant picked two grocery items that did not total more than 90 cents (so they'd have enough money to use a payphone), and then had to choose the price of the car from three (where two were actually the prices of smaller prizes represented in dollars and one decimal place) by dialing it on a giant rotary phone (complete with models answering on the other end for the reveal). Word of God (Roger) said "It was lame!" Played just three times, and infamous for the fandom believing it used a completely wrong set of rules.
- Time Is Money (2003-04): Production issues that spent way too much time on filming and editing; a major rule change on its third playing to remove the $500 voucher made the name an Artifact Title and didn't help. Roger had planned a comeback on the Turntable with a smaller set, but never got around to it.
- The game was revived in September 2014 for the new season with rule change that manages to better reflect the name of the game.
- Trader Bob (1980-85): Too similar to Give or Keep, only without any room for error. Bob even mentioned the game's difficulty during a Christmas 1983 playing where one of the prices was accidentally exposed.
- Walk of Fame (1983-85): Problems keeping up with inflation, which made the game too hard. The final playing didn't show the autograph book signatures (Bob, Johnny, Janice, Dian, and Holly) as, while Johnny was still alive, he had suffered the brain hemmorhage which eventually killed him and Gene Wood was announcing.
- The game originally used three autograph books with one Second Chance, which was reduced to the more familiar two by its third playing (the second playing's contestant won the first three prizes).
- The basic mechanic (pricing items within a certain range, increasing in magnitude on each item) was recycled for the pricing portion of Rat Race.
- On The $25,000 Pyramid, the 7-11 offered a choice: the team could take $50 per word, or try to get all seven words for the $1,100 bonus. "Play it safe" was retired because almost nobody ever took it. The choice later returned, now offering $500 per word, in the 2009 $1,000,000 Pyramid pilots.
- The John Davidson $100,000 used more bonus categories, such as Double Trouble note and Gamble For A Grand/Trip note .
- Behind-the-category bonuses as a whole became this when The Pyramid premiered on GSN in 2012.
- The first Lifetime season of Supermarket Sweep had a giant monster (such as Frankenstein's Monster or a gorilla) that would occasionally roam the aisles, and contestants would have to turn around if they encountered it.
- There was an alternate format of the Round Robin game with five clues about a product and no jumbled letters. This was scrapped when PAX revived the show in 2000.
Shop 'Til You Drop
- The first two Lifetime seasons of Shop 'Til You Drop (1991-92) had a lower-budget bonus round: the goal was $1,000, and the items the team began with ranged from 49 cents to $250; further, among the items (both with the team and in the mall) were gag gifts, which weren't worth much of anything. The standard $2,500 goal was introduced at the start of Season 3 (1993), the gag gifts were ousted, and there were only a few prizes worth less than $100.
- The overhaul of the first two rounds in 2003, along with most of the rest of the show. For the first eight seasons, the first two rounds consisted of various stunts done by the teams; for the last two seasons, these were replaced by extremely-lackluster either-or games done at the teams' podiums.
- When Tattletales debuted in February 1974, there were two kinds of questions: one derived from the show's predecessor He Said, She Said (telling a story based on a question about the couples' lives, then having the other spouse match the story from a clue word), the other a "Tattletales Quickie" (predicting how the spouse would answer a multiple-choice question). In June 1974, the format went to all-Quickies.
- The original "Beat the Dragon" Bonus Round involved contestants looking for a hidden tic-tac-toe among four X's and four O's on the game board while avoiding the Dragon. The contestant earned $150 per square revealed and could stop and take the money at any time. When the series moved to syndication, this changed to contestants picking squares hiding amounts from $100-$500 with $1,000 as the goal. Finding TIC and TAC meant the contestant automatically won.
- For a time in 1983, contestants were required to accumulate exactly $1,000, meaning if they meant over, they must find TIC and TAC to win. Thankfully, this lasted only a few months.
Wheel of Fortune
- Perhaps the most famous element that was retired from Wheel of Fortune was the shopping; initially, contestants used their cash winnings to buy prizes (or as Pat referred to it on several occasions, "fake money with which you'd buy cheesy prizes"). The nighttime version experimented with a play-for-cash format from October 5-30, 1987, which proved so successful that the shopping was seamlessly and permanently ousted from there. The daytime show continued to use shopping until the first CBS episode (July 17, 1989), which began using a scaled-down version of the play-for-cash format.
- Several categories have been retired over time. See here for a list; at least three were only used once, and one more didn't last a full season. Some notable examples:
- Nickname, probably the most enigmatic category due to its freakishly sparse tenure (at least 1979-94) but no known uses between May 31, 1979 and Fall 1988.
- Foreign Word(s)/Phrase (1991?-92), where the puzzles were in Spanish, French, etc. Some leeway was allowed due to multiple Anglicized pronunciations, a fact Pat brought up after the puzzle MAZEL TOV (September 14, 1992)...after which he called Foreign Phrase "the category from Hell".
- Slang (1992-95), which generally used terms that were archaic or, in some cases, outright fabricated. Some elements of this remain in puzzles today, such as the cringe-inducing TOTALLY AWESOME WATER PARK during a late-2000s Teen Week.
- Megaword (1994-95; Season 12), an eight- to thirteen-letter word which gave a cash bonus for using the word in a sentence. It had all the hallmarks of a bad idea: aside from Pat's clear dislike of it from the start (making it the Butt Monkey of Season 12), Megaword had lackluster judging, an unusually-high difficulty level (thanks to generally lacking common letters), and players clearly being unfamiliar with the word (leading to incorrect answers with only vowels remaining or, in at least one case, the entire answer revealed)...and yet it managed to get used at least 31 times in its 6½-month lifespan.
- Introduced around October 1990, bonus categories in the main game offered a cash reward for answering a question contained within the puzzle.
- The bonus was originally worth $500 ($250 on the daytime show), which became $1,000 in December 1995. It further increased to $2,000 in September 1996 and became $3,000 in late 1999. The exceptions to these were the "Red-Letter Puzzles" worth $1,000 (explained in further detail below) and the Puzzlers (1998-2000) which were always worth $3,000.
- When bonus categories were first introduced, if the player who solved couldn't answer the question, the host went down the line to the next contestant(s) who could answer for the money. This was eliminated in late 1995, although Megaword had been an exception prior to this.
- The bonus categories began to be thrown out as the 2000s progressed, but on January 30, 2008 a pair of contestants solved the Slogan puzzle EAT FRESH as SUBWAY EAT FRESH, giving the bonus answer along with the puzzle. After a stopdown, the contestants got credit for the puzzle and the bonus. Slogan got retired almost immediately, with Next Line Please and Who Is It?/Who Are They? being ousted in April; the only bonus category to survive Season 25 was Where Are We?, only to be used twice in Season 26 (September 17 and November 28) before getting the boot.
- In spite of this, a new bonus category, What's That Song?, was introduced on September 16, 2010 with the contestant earning $3,000 if they can identify the song with the lyrics in the puzzle. After six uses, the category was retired on October 31, 2011.
- From 1993-96, the show tried puzzles that included differently-colored letters as part of a home viewer sweepstakes. The differently-colored letters spelled out a word, which home viewers could then mail to the show to enter a prize drawing. Variants included red letters that spelled a common word; gold letters that spelled the name of an Academy Award winner; half red/half blue letters that spelled out the last name of a President; and half red/half blue letters that spelled out an Olympic event.
- From 1992-95, the Red-Letter Puzzles were a regular part of the game, with a $1,000 bonus to the contestant if s/he could unscramble the word.
- Puzzler, used in Seasons 16-17, was a mini-puzzle that could come after any of the first three rounds with an answer related to the puzzle immediately before it. Solving the Puzzler in five seconds won a $3,000 bonus.
- The Preview Puzzle, present only in Season 17, was a partially-filled puzzle intended as a teaser for viewers at the top of the show, with no bearing on the game. This and the Puzzler were removed in Season 18 and effectively replaced with the current Toss-Up rounds.
- Many wedges were also retired from the Wheel:
- Countless dollar values, such as $1,500, a decent enough close-second if you can't hit $5,000.
- Buy A Vowel, a single (two from Round 2 onward) wedge that, if you landed on it, you had to buy a vowel. Landing on it without having $250, or after all vowels in the puzzle had been bought, essentially turned it into another Lose A Turn and may have taken out the money anyway.
- While it was used from the original 1973 pilot until some point in 1975, it was redundant from the start: through at least the premiere, players could buy vowels anytime. The Milton Bradley Home Games in '75 show that Buy A Vowel not only lasted long enough to see the ousting of the original two-digit spaces and the arrival of gift certificates, but became a far more useful wedge by way of requiring players to hit it...until Wheel decided to just get rid of the thing.
- The second Lose A Turn wedge, used from 1974-75 in later rounds.
- The Star Bonus token in April 1978, which allowed a contestant earning it to overtake the leading contestant in a bonus round at the end of the puzzle, played for one of the four big prizes in the show (the difficulty of the puzzle corresponded with the prize's value). However, there was no guarantee that the Star Bonus round would be played, so when it unexpectedly was the episode would be awkwardly edited to fit it in. The prizes designated for the Star Bonus were also available during regular rounds, meaning that any contestant could earn enough money to buy them and render an opponent's token useless. In addition, the day's eventual winner after the last regular round could claim the Star Bonus token.
- Season 13 had Double Play, a token which could be used to double the value of the contestant's next spin. Many contestants had a habit of using it immediately after earning it, usually landing on an insignificant amount for an infrequent letter. Others just never got around to using it. note
- The original Jackpot space, used from 1986-88 in daytime only; it increased by $1,000 every day until it was won. The highest known value for it was $22,000, awarded in November 1987.
- The nighttime Jackpot, which started at $5,000 and increased with every dollar amount hit. To claim the Jackpot, a contestant had to hit the wedge, call a right letter, and solve all on the same turn. Introduced in September 1996, retired June 2013.
- Surprise, used from 1992-98. This was a special prize which, if won, wasn't revealed unless that player solved the puzzle.
- 25 Wedge and Big Money Wedge, both used only in Season 25. The former offered a prize that was 25 of something (sometimes $2,500; i.e., 25 $100 bills), and the latter alternated among three different cash values (which were treated as an odd cross between a prize and a regular cash space: like a prize, it wasn't multiplied by the number of times the letter appeared in the puzzle, but if claimed the money could be used to buy vowels as if it came from a cash space), Bankrupt, and Lose A Turn. Season 25 also included a double-sized $2,500 wedge for four weeks.
- The $10,000 cash prize, a 1/3-size $10,000 wedge surrounded by 1/3-size Bankrupts. It was treated as a prize and couldn't be spent on vowels. This was replaced in Season 26 by the identically-structured Million-Dollar Wedge.
- The Free Spin. Originally a wedge that could be landed on to claim a Free Spin token, then replaced on October 16, 1989 by a single token placed on a money wedge. Anytime a contestant lost a turn, s/he could use Free Spin to get an Extra Turn right away, or opt to hold it until later. It was replaced by the Free Play wedge, where the extra turn is taken as soon as the wedge is hit, and no extra turn is offered if the first turn is successful. (The wedge also offers a free vowel.)
- After the Free Spin wedge was retired, a single disc was placed over a random dollar amount on the wheel in use for only the first two rounds. Beginning in September 1995, the Free Spin disc was placed over a permanent figure. In its last two seasons of use, it was available for the first three rounds and contestants won $300 per consonant in addition to the disc.
- When the Bonus Round became permanent in 1981, players asked for five consonants and one vowel that would help them fill as many letters in the blank puzzle as necessary to solve with a 15-second time limit. However, almost everyone wound up picking R, S, T, L, N and E, with the occasional C or D replacing one of the consonants. On October 3, 1988, the rules changed to give the contestants those letters and have them pick three extra consonants and one vowel. The time limit was also reduced to 10 seconds.
- Similarly, when the syndicated Bonus Round setup was altered in October 1987 to have the player pick from five nice prizes displayed onstage, many contestants went for the $25,000 cash. Those that didn't chose the luxury cars and very rarely was anything else picked. In September 1989, the format changed to the contestant choosing a random envelope from the letters W-H-E-E-L before being replaced with the current Bonus Wheel in October 2001.
- In February 1997, the trilon-based puzzle board was retired, replaced by a new board with touch-based screens. The last thing shown on the old board? FOR SALE.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
- The American Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? axed the Fastest Finger when the syndicated run debuted and just had contestants brought in one at a time. Later on, they removed the 50:50 (replaced by Double Dip amidst fan allegations that it wasn't actually random, basically started by Norm MacDonald during the original ABC run), Phone-A-Friend (devolved into Phone-Someone-To-Google-The-Answer) and Switch the Question.
- In September 2010, the Clock system was replaced by "Super Mix", which also dumped Double Dip and Ask the Expert for two of Jump the Question.