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The Points Mean Nothing
aka: Pointless Points
"Welcome to Whose Line is it Anyway; the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter. That's right, the points are kinda like Canada."

The Panel Show format has been around for a long time - it's cheap to make and easy to film. But when it's aimed towards being funny or entertaining, the points cease to matter. What may have started as a quite a serious point system falls to the wayside, or maybe they don't care about points in the first place but liked the format. Add to this gracious editing which removes answers to questions or entire questions, and the viewer will have a hard time figuring out how that team is winning when they haven't answered a single question yet.

Sure, the person/team may still "win", but they don't get anything for it, and we have no idea how they did it.

Regardless, points seem to matter less the longer a series goes on.

When the points don't matter due to the last challenge determining everything, it's a Golden Snitch.

Akin to Scoring Points in video games. Compare Pinball Scoring, where point awards are subject to Ridiculous Future Inflation.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • In the opening episode of Baccano!, Gustav and Carol are discussing the immortals. Gustav awards Carol arbitrary points for her observations. These points have no meaning in the rest of the story. They're just a Running Gag.
  • Chrome Shelled Regios has the Queen grabbing the boobs of females around her, giving them a random score. For Leerin, she gives 10,000,000 points and for her personal servant, 20. Ouch.
  • In Queen's Blade, Alleyne gives Nowa, her apprentice, points on how well she handles a situation.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, the concept of power levels and how they relate to practical combat performance is nebulous from the start. The numbers are subject to ever-more-Ridiculous Future Inflation as the series continues, until the concept is largely dropped from the show after the Freeza arc. For the in-universe explanation, it was impractical because the scouters kept exploding.

    Live Action TV 
  • "Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway?; the show where everything is made up and the points don't matter! That's right, the points are like the plot of a porn movie; they don't matter!" The phrase was used in the U.S. version by Drew Carey, to highlight American audiences being unused to Panel Games. The same principle applied to the Clive Anderson-hosted British seasons, but at least it could be demonstrated that Clive was, in fact, awarding points (and deducting them for references to baldness). Drew Carey himself didn't seem to keep track of the points he was awarding; eventually, he just defaulted to saying "a thousand points to everyone" after every game, and later they only seemed to come up when Drew was using that tag-line.
    • The score recap the only time Drew did one: Wayne: Who knows, Brad: Who Cares, Colin: I Forgot, Ryan: -73
    • Other "recaps" go along the lines of "If you're keeping score at home; medical help is on the way."
    • Averted on one occasion where the points actually did matter.
    • The points did mean something in an outtake, as Drew accidentally said "five hundred points a peach" instead of "apiece". Ryan and Colin quickly jumped on it, raising their hands and yelling "I got a peach!"
    • In one episode, Drew gave away $100 bills instead of points.
    • In yet another episode, Colin got the 1 millionth point ever awarded on the show, and they celebrated with balloons falling down from the ceiling as they cut to commercial.
    • After a Foreign Film Dub set in a beer garden, Drew gave out 100 beers instead of points.
    • In yet another episode, Drew simply brought in a tape recorder of himself saying "One thousand points!" Wayne stole it during a commercial break and overwrote the tape with himself chanting "My ass... my ass... my ass..."
    • One episode featured Drew telling the viewers to go out and buy "the official Whose Line Is It Anyway? Scorebook...ya big dope."
    • "You don't get points for this round, instead you get the new mega-points. They are 25% bigger and worth 50% less."
    • "A billion points to everybody. One billion. Feel the heat, Regis."
    • In early seasons of the Clive Anderson original, whoever had the most points at the end of the show won the "prize" of getting to read the end credits in a style of Clive's choosing. Styles included gangster, pirate, Double Rainbow guy, man who's looking for a bathroom, etc..
    • Someone calculated who won, by adding up all the points.
  • Have I Got News for You: This is a particularly bad (read frequent) offender: because of the amount of editing involved, the teams will end up with points without you seeing them answer the questions. Nobody cares about winning, but occasionally Paul will mention how often he's wonnote . He has mentioned on commentaries being more competitive than Ian, even jumping in with an answer Ian was about to give (during Ian's team's turn) and getting the points, but the lack of clarity on the points hardly matters so long as it’s entertaining.
    Angus Deayton: Good evening and welcome to the programme attacked this week by one viewer who wrote to complain about the random way the points are allocated, on the grounds that "the level of money wagered on the outcome of this show increases week on week," so our apologies to Mr. Joseph Wall of Newark, and one point to Ian.
    • A particularly clear example of this came when Anne Robinson hosted and gave one of them points whenever the other mentioned her husband. Hell, for all we know they deliberately cause Ian to lose.
    • When (famously rotund) MP Roy Hattersley had pulled out for the third time, at very short noticenote  his place with Paul was filled in by a tub of lard. In spite of the tub being unable to confer with Paul for any questions aimed at it, and all of their team's questions in the final round being given in foreign languages, it and Paul still won:
    Ian: It is getting rather sad that I can't win against Paul when he's accompanied by a tub of lard and the questions are in a foreign language (trails off laughing).
    Angus: We did everything we could, Ian.
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks: Captains have gotten moody about the random giving out of points in the past, moaning about giving over songs; perhaps the best examples are when the host deliberately prevents teams from winning. Donnie Tourette (a "punk") was mocked for caring about points, while Phill Jupitus once tried to end a game with zero.
    • Mark Lamarr would give extra points to guests he liked, such as Jimmy Cliff. He also gave a bonus point to Billie Piper for insulting Westlife.
  • QI: rewards contestants with points based on how interesting they are (and deduct points for obvious wrong answers). Occasionally, the host will say they get points for it; but by the end, there are often looks of shock from the contestants over the score. Creator John Lloyd said that he himself doesn't understand the scoring system - they apparently just hire someone to sit in a room and record scores, and no one knows quite what logic he uses, if any. One rule that is clear though, is that 10 points are deducted for an answer that "everyone knows" but is wrong, such as Sweden having the world's highest suicide rate note 
    • Lloyd and co-creator John Mitchinson have also noted that for all the inexplicable scoring, people are very pleased to win, unlike on shows like Have I Got News for You where no one except the regulars really cares apart from the very occasional guest (such as Bill Deeds, who according to Ian was furious with himself for not winning).
    • Apparently every point can be explained if the panelists wish (and they have the right of appeal if they believe their score is wrong). They never ask, but it is correct.
    • It is telling that the audience has won the show more than once. (They've also come in last at least once. They only win, however, if they actually score points during the show; if the audience has scored nothing while all panelists have negative points, the panelist with the best total is still the winner.)
    • The purpose of the score is for Alan Davies to get something in the realms of minus a hundred.
      • He's actually won more times than any other panelist. But that's more to do with him being in every episode than with him being any good at the game; he only is a winner (or tied for the lead at the end) in about one out of eight episodes.
      • On three occasions (once each in series A, H, and I) his buzzer sound was the klaxon which goes off when a panelist is being penalized, so he lost ten points without even opening his mouth.
    • Like HIGNFY above, at least some of the apparent randomness of the points is due to editing down two hours of material into a half-hour broadcast - if someone gets forfeits or right answers during this time, their points gained in the half hour can vary wildly from those shown at the end (most recently a panelist ended up with a score of -15 despite seemingly getting no forfeits at all), but of course, they can't change the points for the edit. It becomes clearer in the extended editions, but one presumes that even more is lost from the original recorded length.
    • Gets heavily lampshaded in series I episode "International" when they discuss points with Stephen basically pointing out nobody really knows how the system works other than the guys they pay to do it. Note that this is the very start of the show and when asked to recap the scores (before any questions), Bill Bailey (who first pointed this out) is winning by a whole 3 points... cue more mocking.
    • A few episodes later, in a show about "Inequality and Injustice" they gave the scores before the quiz had started, and (similarly unfairly) refused to read out the actual scores at the end.
    • QI will also award points deserved to a competitor in a later series, which confused the hell out of Sandi Toksvig until Dara O'Briain explained the whole "triple point of water" scoring controversy.
    • In a series K episode they admitted that the answers to a lot of previous questions had since been proven incorrect and so back paid points depending on the number of shows the guests had been on. Naturally, Alan was owed a lot, and finished the episode with over 600 points.
  • Mock the Week: Can be quite confusing with the mix of what the host finds funny and correctly answering the questions. According to Andy Parsons, they record both sides winning and then arbitrarily decide which one to use in the edit.
    • Lampshaded by host Dara O'Briain in one episode while introducing one round with "The winner is the performer I judge to have produced the best material, no, of course it isn't, it's random, stop e-mailing in."
    • In addition, Dara never explains how many points are awarded, instead just says 'the points' or 'the winners of this round are...'
    • There was a round where team captains, Rory Bremner and Hugh Dennis, provided the voices to a clip of film. When Bremner left they kept the round but using Dennis and Frankie Boyle - even though Hugh and Frankie were on the same team.
  • Some Swedish examples are Snacka om nyheter (Talk about news) and Så ska det låta (That's the sound of it).
    • There is also Intresseklubben (The Interest Club. It is a reference to a Swedish idiom), for the simple reason that it is the Swedish version of QI.
  • Shooting Stars had trick questions with only Vic and Bob knowing which way they were going to spin it. Oddly enough, they did refer to the points many times throughout the show, but mainly for the little segment of Matt Lucas, who worked the drums. In the end, the "winning" team would elect a member to take part in a challenge, sometimes winning as much as 10 pounds.
  • Averted by A Question of Sport - while it is a celebrity panel show and is both funny and entertaining, the panelists are all sportsmen and women and therefore ridiculously competitive...
  • On one occasion Spicks And Specks (Aussie music quiz/panel show) ended up with the audience with a considerable number of points for answering correctly.
    • This has happened at least once in QI, but mostly because the contestants tend to end up with negative points so a single point to the audience can "win" the game...
      • QI has even had a couple of moments when the audience has lost points.
  • Aussie show Rock Wiz shows the current score at the end of each round, but points are awarded quite arbitrarily, and this is often lampshaded by Julia Zemiro when one of the players complains about not getting points/the other team getting more points.
  • Technically, the points do mean something on Around The Horn... but they're completely prone to being randomly manipulated by the host in order to modify the outcome.
  • That's Numberwang!
  • Lampshaded in Charlie Brooker's You Have Been Watching after Frank Skinner had won the episode by a large margin he title dropped this trope, leading Frank to get quite upset.
  • The Australian quiz show Talkin' 'bout Your Generation takes this approach, to an extent (mainly to make fun of Generation Y.) The host, Shaun Micallef, often gives a bizarre number of points that are in no way relevant to the number of questions answered correctly in a round. One time a contestant actually traded places with Micallef and reassigned points between teams. The points are doubly irrelevant - the last round awards the number of points needed for any of the teams to win.
    • In addition, on one notable occasion the teams began trading points in an effort to close up the gaps. Other such antics with the points include Generation Y insisting on getting 5/8s of a point for one question. They got it.
  • Norway's own news-mocker Nytt på nytt (News in a new way, but can be read as Again and again) has some fun with this. Points are awarded (in a way), with even a counter visible... for those in the studio. The shots used in the aired version NEVER show the points, discreetly pushing them off-screen, so the viewer is left guessing to what the score is until it's (apparently) summed up and a winner (and the loser) is awarded with something funny and news-related.
  • The only really memorable thing about Adam & Joe's game show parody "Quizzlestick" is it’s incomprehensibly complicated scoring system.
    • Isn't that the entire point of said parody?
  • Good News Week. Just Good News Week. The amount of points scored seems a little erratic, on the occasion a question gets an answer that is. This is attributed to the Rule of Funny however. It does keep clear track of points, but is extremely casual about how they are awarded. Host Paul McDermott can be talked into awarding points for answering questions which weren't asked, for incorrect answers which are vehemently defended, and generally whenever it's entertaining. On one particularly bizarre occasion McDermott won.
    • He also once handed out points to both teams after one contestant chased a member of the opposing team into and through the audience.
  • The apparently Canadian comedy show Kenny vs. Spenny constantly features competitions between the two fellows, but the whole idea of the show is how Kenny always rigs the competitions some way. In the odd episode Spenny wins, it's usually because the joke's still on him, e.g. he races Canada's tallest stairs up by himself while Kenny takes the elevator.
  • Dave Chappelle held a quiz segment called "I Know Black People", selecting non-actors and genuinely testing them on whether they did 'know black people'. The points didn't matter for most questions, as some question gave points for any answer, and some where:
    Chappelle: "'I don't know' is an acceptable answer! Even black people don't know that shit."
  • Would I Lie to You? generally averts this as the points are awarded on a very simple and straightforward basis, although not all of the questions make it through to the edit so sometimes it seems like a team is on top yet loses because the points the opposing team scored were cut. Both team captains (particularly Lee Mack) are quite competitive about the scores and who has won which series (in a series 5 episode, David Mitchell defied the trope by saying he did feel a genuine sense of competition about the game).
    • As of series 6 the producers are working out the final score from the edit and dubbing it on in post-production so the points reflect the half-hour highlights and not the full recording. Whether this has made the pointless more or less meaningful is debatable.
  • On What's My Line?, the points system consisted of ten cards at $5 each, and when the cards were all turned over, the panel had lost the game. However, the longer the series went on, the more likely it became for host John Daly to simply flip over all the cards if he thought the panel was taking too long, or to simply flip them all over anyway for the flimsiest of reasons, even if the panel did guess the occupation correctly. In the case of the Mystery Guest segment, the dollar amount on the cards meant nothing anyway, as mystery guests were paid an appearance fee of $500, though this was largely unknown to the general public.
  • Used car challenges on Top Gear often include a scoring board to keep track of a car's performance. The tally is often skewed by inordinately small, large, or negative points being awarded by one presenter to another. And sometimes, if one of the 3 presenters screw up something really big, they get enough negative points to have their score lowered back to zero, or -1000.
  • 7 Days is a New Zealand panel show where guests are placed into Team 1 or Team 2, and after each segment, the host Jeremy Corbett awards each team points based on numbers from that week's news. The overall winner gets the right to do a voiceover thanking NZ On Air for funding the show, but the winner of each segment doesn't always correspond to who got the correct answer, or even who was funnier.
    Guest: Hang on, hang on. How come they get more points than us when we got the right answer?
    Corbett: You foreigners with your "logic"...
  • @Midnight has nearly meaningless points that are frequently awarded on a whim and no prize to be competed for in the first place; the points' only actual function is to eliminate the lowest-scoring of the three panelists prior to the head-to-head final challenge. Host Chris Hardwick's cries of "points!" have somehow become a catchphrase anyway.

    Music 
  • From Steve Goodman's/Arlo Guthrie's "The City of New Orleans":
    Dealing cards with the old men in the club car
    Penny a point, ain’t no one keeping score
  • While the points in the Eurovision Song Contest are very important they just often don't seem to be related to the quality of the songs or how well they have been sung.
    "And Cyprus awards maximum points to ... Greece!"

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Calvinball, invented within Calvin and Hobbes, the points determine who's winning, but they're completely incomprehensible unless you're playing, of course.
    Hobbes: Okay, so now the score is oogy to boogy.
    Calvin: I already had oogy!

    Radio 
  • Mocked by I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, where the scorekeeper, the lovely and possibly sex-mad Samantha, is introduced at the beginning of each episode with more fanfare than the contestants - and then the score is never mentioned again. This is perhaps not a surprise, given that Samantha doesn't exist. Tis a shame.
    • Lampshaded in one of the episode in 1997, where Humph, the chairman, closes one round with "It's just occurred to me that Samantha hasn't given us the score... since 1981."
    • And yet, Humph frequently reminds the teams and the audience that "Points Mean Prizes!" Though we never hear anything more about the prizes either...
    • Humph was actually using one of Bruce Forsyth's catch-phrases. He called out, "And what do points mean?” to which the audience shouted back "PRIZES!” Humph was then usually heard muttering something like "Pathetic". ("Now go and invade Czechoslovakia.")
    • In earlier episodes, Humph would award points, but they never made sense and were never added up to a total. ("Right, well, it's level-pegging. We move on to...") Sometimes, he'd hand out points for groveling, sometimes for not groveling, points would routinely be reversed if someone on the leading team made an exceptionally lame joke... strangely enough, he stopped giving out points around the same time Samantha was introduced into the show.
    • And a different episode ended with Humph saying that there were winners: a pair of contestants who were listening from home.
  • You might expect Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me to be like this, but it actually keeps a fairly rigid scoring system. Subverted in that the prize is essentially bragging rights for the panelist. What does matter is how callers do - they get announcer Carl Kassel to record a message on their answering machine.
  • The BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills is very fond of doing little game-show segments on his show. He gives out "Scot Mills Points" to the people in the studio and any listeners that got the question/guessed right.
  • The 99p Radio Show, a Whose Line Is It Anyway?/I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue type programme in which Sue Perkins hands out random amounts of small change at the end of each round.
  • The News Quiz works similarly to HIGNFY, its Sound to Screen Adaptation. Former host Simon Hoggart used to regularly offer "two points to somebody" or "two points to Jeremy for getting the right answer, and a bonus point to Alan for telling us what it was", and often ended with "And thanks to my unique scoring system, the winner is..." Before him was Barry Took, who gave points to Richard Ingrams if it looked like he might have once known the answer, or at least once known an answer. Current chair Sandi Toksvig deducts points for height jokes (although she herself will make them about Andy Hamilton)

    Video Games 
  • In online First Person Shooters and the like, the points earned by killing other players are purely for bragging rights in every game type except deathmatch.
  • In Portal 2 coop, the Science Collaboration (and Opportunity Advisement) Points Mean Nothing.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People features Strong Bad awarding you points for how well you make a Teen Girl Squad comic. Really, they're just Strong Bad making stuff up, and sometimes go into the negatives.
  • While hardly classifiable as a game, Plumbers Don't Wear Ties has the narrator giving you a score after certain scenes. To rub salt in the wound, the highest you can possibly get is in the negative six figures.
  • Many old-school video games like Pac-Man give no rewards for points beyond a spot on a high scores screen, but don't say the points don't matter to hardcore fans.
    • Anybody who's playing a game just to finish it (if it has an end) will think this if the game keeps score of points.
  • In Eversion, the points really don't matter and when you everse to higher levels, the score counter goes mad…
  • Not from a game, but for a service related to them: Origin (aka "Not-Steam") hands out points for earning achievements in games. You can't do anything with these points; they just exist.

    Web Original 
  • Caught Chatting - amounts of points have included "Jones", "sine minus one ninety", and "Homestar Runner".
  • Speaking of Homestar Runner, in the Halloween cartoon "Pumpkin Carve-nival", award ribbons with meaningless accolades were handed out by Homestar to the various pumpkin carvers. These include "2nd Place", "Worst Place", "Good Prize", "Not Last Place", and "Most Improved". Homestar also ranked two or three different pumpkins as "Last Place".
  • Reddit: That Karma is essentially meaningless is a perennial joke on the site.

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alternative title(s): Pointless Points; Bogus Points
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