Missing Episode / Game Shows

Game Shows, more than any other genre, were prone to becoming either missing or lost. The practice of wiping (reusing videotapes) stopped as a whole around 1979, with the earlier years of television particularly affected. The oldest televised game show episode known to exist is from 1947's Party Line, hosted by Bert Parks, while the oldest game show footage known to exist is a 1940 episode of Information Please that was filmed by RKO for theaters (a practice that lasted from about 1939-42).

The comparative lack of circulating game show episodes may also be due to the format's perceived inherent lack of rerun potential, due to the genre not really being episodic or having any plot to speak of.

On the other hand, more so than any other genre, collectors and traders of these taped shows proliferated early in the internet's lifespan, meaning that now when there's a search, there's a lot of searching.
  • Nearly all of the first ten years of the original daytime NBC Wheel of Fortune is erased, with a King World representative confirming in August 2006 that Merv Griffin Productions had a policy in place that called for tape reuse until 1985 and that the archives for the daytime series begin at that point (a somewhat more concise, although likely incomplete, list is here):
    • All three pilots exist: the first, hosted by Chuck Woolery in 1973 under the Working Title Shopper's Bazaar, the other two hosted by Edd Byrnes in 1974 (and much closer to the final product).
    • The first seven years (1975-81), also hosted by Woolery, were largely wiped. Only a handful of episodes exist, mostly from 1979-80, as do some bits and pieces of others.
    • About the second half of Pat Sajak's run on daytime (mid 1985-89) is intact, as are those of his daytime successors: Rolf Benirschke (1989) and, after a Channel Hop to CBS note , Bob Goen (1989-91).
    • The Sajak-hosted nighttime version (1983-present) is intact, but certain years are quite hard to find - most notably the 1985-86, 1986-87, and 1990-91 seasons, though 2000 episodes don't seem to be easy to find either. The lack of episodes representing those eras is due at least in part to limited reruns on GSN and/or few big fans of Wheel in the game show tape trading community.
    • In a lesser example, three episodes had entire puzzles edited out for reasons other than technical errors:
      • The first (taped in San Francisco and aired November 2, 1992) removed a round with an answer of VANNA'S PREGNANT because she miscarried before the episode made it to air; in its place, viewers saw a three-minute spiel on San Francisco, followed by a post-production clip of Pat standing at the puzzle board and announcing who won that round.
      • Two New Orleans episodes aired in November 2005 right after Hurricane Katrina each had one puzzle removed before airing because it was believed the answers would be insensitive to victims; instead, they showed clips of Pat and Vanna asking viewers to donate to relief funds. Oddly, one round was restored when the episodes reran the next summer (the answer was THE LOUISIANA SUPERDOME), but the other puzzle is Lost Forever.
    • Also, because of Katrina-induced evacuations, a Family Week that was supposed to air in November 2005 never even got taped. However, the families that were supposed to appear on it did get to play later in the season.
    • Yet other episodes, including the 1975 premiere, had entire rounds edited out due to a blooper of some kind, usually a wrong letter being revealed.
    • The week of February 6, 2012 was originally going to have a theme of Wheel Goes Country. For some reason, an already-taped military week was moved up from March to that week, and the "Goes Country" theme just disappeared without a trace.
  • Wheel's sister show Jeopardy! is also missing almost all of the original Art Fleming era (1964-75), with only five full episodes circulating and a clip of another (although some others are held by UCLA and Paley Center); the 1974-75 syndicated run and 1978-79 revival are intact, with seven episodes circulating of the latter and an episode of the former only surfacing in 2016. Subsequent eras are also intact, including both Trebek pilots.
    • On the current Trebek version (1984-present), the five-episode run where Barbara Lowe retired undefeated was supposedly taken out of rotation due to Lowe having lied about her prior game show commitments (there are limits as to how many game shows a contestant can be on, and she exceeded said limits), not to mention being a total Jerkass on air. Once the powers that be found out, she was barred from the Tournament of Champions, and her winnings were withheld until she threatened with a lawsuit.
    • Much later, a contestant named Jeff Kirby finished in third place in 1999, and somehow snuck back on the show a decade later...where he finished in third place again. Since you can't compete on the show twice (barring tournaments, or contestants who are invited back by the producers due to some event that significantly affected the outcome), he had his 2009 winnings withheld, and his 2009 episode was taken out of the rerun rotation.
  • Some people had claimed Bob Barker had enforced a ban on certain episodes of The Price Is Right with fur coats as prizes (even while given an offer by BCI to use disclaimers for the episodes in their plan to release certain episodes of the show on DVD and/or donate to his favorite charities if he'd just allow 1972 premiere to be released along with the others) and that he tried other arbitrary kinds of whitewashing the history of the show, most notably longtime show model Holly Hallstrom due to ill will between them and the fact that she won a lawsuit against him.
    • Oddly, the fur ban also seems to spread to the first five seasons of the 1972-80 nighttime show, originally hosted by Dennis James. What's odd about this is that Bob wasn't involved with that version until James' contract expired in 1977, and certainly doesn't explain why GSN avoided the (admittedly very, very few) non-fur episodes as well.
    • Four episodes were just plain never aired: one from the show's first week in 1972 (due to a contestant being ineligible), one in September 1978, one in September 1985, and one in 2001 (due to the contestants changing places in Contestant's Row but no one noticing). All but the 1978 episode were replaced with newly-shot episodes.
    • Also going unaired was one from James' nighttime show, #003N. The reason is related to the calculators that were used to determine the Showcase winner at the very end of the show, although beyond that it's not 100% certain; former Price staffer Scott Robinson runs down the known info here. Oddly, while the original episode was taped on August 28, 1972, the replacement show wasn't taped until after #039N (the season finale) on May 4, 1973.
    • For the original Bill Cullen era, many early daytime episodes were erased while the nighttime shows that survive are presented as black-and-white kinescopes; the NBC nighttime run (and later NBC daytime episodes) aired in color, but no full shows are known to exist in that form today. note 
    • The 1985-86 (Kennedy) and 1994-95 (Davidson) syndicated editions are (presumed) intact, but neither has seen the light of day since at least the '90s - the former due to GSN's Price contract expiring (seemingly for good) in 2000, and the latter due to rights issues.
  • Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions usually managed to preserve at least one episode from most of their shows, but even with them there's a couple of exceptions.
    • The Better Sex (1977-78): Only four episodes are known to exist the pilot and Grand Finale have circulated for years, while two general episodes were aired by GSN.
    • The Match Game (1962-69) is almost completely lost minus 11-12 episodes. Virtually all of these episodes are black-and-white kinescopes.
      • Some episodes of the far more familiar 1973-82 era are absent from the GSN rota due to racial slurs or homophobic slurs that are now seen as unacceptable, although one supposedly has a malfunctioning tape.
      • On the other hand, a string of CBS episodes that never aired in 1979 (including the final two weeks) eventually were aired by GSN in 2001.
    • Almost all of Mindreaders (1979-80) is MIA; no one seems to know if it was wiped or not. The premiere (August 13) exists as audio only. The pilot (taped August 3), two episodes (August 15 and December 13), and the opening of a third (December 31) exist on video.
    • Number Please (1961) has only one episode existing, although said episode has been seen on GSN.
    • Most of the original 1961-67 daytime run of Password was wiped, although most nighttime episodes remain. Some 1966-67 daytime shows only survive in their Edited for Syndication forms, including the Grand Finale. Almost the entire run of the ABC Password (1971-75) was later taped over (reportedly with Family Feud), and less than 20 episodes of 1,099 are known to survive.
    • Password Plus was hit with this in two unusual ways:
      • 1979: One episode went unaired during the show's original run because one of the week's guests, George Peppard, started a rant about NBC's standards and practices. It has since aired on GSN.
      • 1981: A round with Wink Martindale and Gene Rayburn was erased after recording but before airing due to a technician's error. Some time later, once the error was realized, the duo and host Tom Kennedy recorded a new segment to verbally describe the round; luckily, the puzzle card was still available to help fill in the gap.
    • Similar to the '81 Password Plus example, one episode of the syndicated To Tell the Truth had a round lost forever when it was discovered that the tape had malfunctioned. Host Garry Moore introduced the subject as normal before explaining the situation to the home audience, saying that while it was briefly considered to have the panel try to recreate their questions it was ultimately decided to just apologize and have an extended interview with the contestant. (Coincidentally, Gene Rayburn was on the panel for this lost round as well.)
    • Snap Judgment (1967-69) is a rare example from Goodson-Todman, because no video footage is known to exist. The only footage we can provide is a low-quality mic-to-TV audio recording of a 1967 intro with Phyllis Newman and Paul Anka and this audio recording of a partial Big 5 round from '67. The August 19, 1968 show is known to exist on audio tape, held by Archival Television Audio, Inc.
    • On the other hand, By Popular Demand, a short-lived Summer replacement show from 1950, appears to be completely gone. This is especially weird since other extremely short-lived G-T entries like What's Going On? (1954), Make the Connection (1955), and Choose Up Sides (1956) have episodes intact, though this instance could be explained by the fact it was on CBS, which wasn't saving What's My Line? at the time either.
  • Concentration is quite MIA, too. The Barry-Enright version on NBC is largely lost, according to producer Norm Blumenthal. So private tape collections to the rescue, right? Well...not really, since NBC still owns the rights to all versions and hasn't allowed any series to be rerun. Here's what's known to exist and circulate:
    • 1958-73: About a dozen or so episodes are in private collections (individuals and media collections such as the Paley Center), almost all from the 1960s. Nearly all of these shows scattered throughout the run have been posted on YouTube, including the Grand Finale. A Barry episode from the brief 1958 nighttime run exists, while none of the McMahon-hosted shows have so much as an audio clip.
    • 1973-78: Although believed to be intact, only one complete episode (taped 1978) circulates among traders, with said episode posted on YouTube; the last few minutes of a 1974 episode and the closing segment of two '76 shows are also known to be around, and Wink Martindale's team brought out five complete episodes on their channel (two from '74, three from '77) as rewards for subscriber milestones.
    • 1987-91: Dozens of episodes circulate among collectors (many from 1987) and posted on YouTube. Two of the ten pilots shot in 1985, with Orson Bean as host and a strange "match related words instead of prizes" front game format, are also around.
  • Many of the game shows that aired alongside Concentration and Jeopardy! on NBC no longer exist either, aside from tapes at the Paley Center. These include The Who, What or Where Game, Three On A Match, and the original Sale Of The Century.
  • The entire NBC run of Dream House (1983-84) was destroyed in a flood, and about a dozen episodes are known to exist. Similarly, the show's original versions on ABC (1968 nighttime and 1968-70 daytime) are believed to have been destroyed, possibly due to the show's embarrassing track record with completing houses.
  • What's My Line?: Most of the first two years of the CBS run (February 2, 1950 through roughly June 1952) are gone forever, the network having recycled the silver in their kinescopes. Goodson-Todman put a stop to it in Summer 1952, and all episodes from then onward exist today as black-and-white kinescopes (including the 1966-67 season, the only CBS season to air in color). The syndicated series (1968-75) exists in its entirety and (minus the 1971-72 season, which has seen only scattered airings of select episodes) has been liberally rerun on GSN.
  • The Adventure Game was one of the victims of the BBC children's television purge of 1993 (see Live-Action TV for details). Each of the first two series (May-June 1980 and November 1981) includes one lost episode note  and one episode which only exists as a low-quality home recording (prompting the BBC to continue to regard the episode as "missing"). Moreover, apart from the fourth and final season (which has occasionally aired on Challenge TV), none of the surviving episodes have been rerun since the 1980s, and only eight episodes (of 16) from the first three seasons are known to be in private collections.
  • The Big Showdown has only two surviving episodes one of the 1974 pilots (called Showdown), and the 67th episode from March 1975. The latter is a mostly-regular episode that likely survived due to a certain blooper known to have been referenced since at least mid-1986: namely, host Jim Peck slipping on the stairs while making his entrance.
  • The original incarnations of Chuck Barris brainchildren The Dating Game (1965-73) and The Newlywed Game (1966-74) are mostly lost, save for scattered episodes.
  • The vast majority of NBC's daytime run of The Hollywood Squares has been wiped (including the short-lived 1969 spinoff The Storybook Squares), and both the 1968 nighttime run and 1971-81 syndicated version were thought lost until somewhere between 650 and 3,000 episodes were discovered some years ago (oddly enough, while trying to find tapes of Dark Shadows; see the Live-Action TV page for more on that). About 150 episodes were seen in its brief run on GSN including, notably, a single daytime episode from December 19, 1977 (one of the show's occasional Storybook Squares weeks).
    • It's never been established exactly what all was re-discovered. It definitely included most if not all of the 1968 primetime series and at least some of the first six syndicated seasons, although some of the latter tapes may have had multiple copies present. In the days before satellite broadcasting, syndicated programs were bicycled: after one station aired an episode, a copy would be made and shipped to another, and so on.
  • Press Your Luck: The episodes with Michael Larson (actually one game split over two episodes because Round 2 ran abnormally long) from June 1984 were never reshown for years, out of sheer embarrassment that Larson memorized the Big Board's light patterns and took them for over $100,000 (itself more than quadruple CBS' $25,000 Game Show Winnings Cap). In 2003, they aired as part of a GSN documentary on Larson's stunt, which analyzed his methodology and even included footage that CBS had originally excised.
    • In mid-1985, six episodes were taped for a special Back-To-School Week. Five of these aired during the original CBS run and the later USA Network repeats, but the sixth show languished for years until appearing on GSN. To add insult to injury, the skipped episode was also the 500th show.
  • Second Chance, the predecessor to Press Your Luck, was thought for years to be completely lost save for Pilot #3 (taped November 9, 1976). In April 2012, the June 27, 1977 episode suddenly turned up on YouTube, and around the same time an audio copy of the finale surfaced. The former is notable for confirming many (if not all) of the 35-year-old memories various people had about the series and had shared online since the mid-1990s.
  • The Pyramid series is a bit complicated:
    • The majority of ABC's episodes, including post-CBS episodes of $10,000 and pre-1978 episodes of $20,000, are gone. Among other things, although clips exist of William Shatner playing the Winner's Circle round solo (June 27, 1975) and Billy Crystal leading his partner to the top in 26 seconds (December 1, 1977, and a Pyramid record that stands to this day), most of the episodes in question are lost. The final two years of $20,000 (1978-80) are intact, as are the subsequent revivals.
    • While it's possible the CBS run of $10,000 is intact, as CBS stopped wiping in September 1972 (which is how The Joker's Wild and Spin-Off survive, having been found at WCBS in 2000), not much is around: 14 episodes of $10,000, all from a November 1973 stint at Television City, aired on GSN in 2001. A black-and-white video of the fifth episode (March 29, 1973) was posted on YouTube, which followed an upload of the first segment of the third episode; the June 13, 1973 show also exists, having been traded around since about the mid-1990s. Also existing are clips of various $10,000 wins, seen in the intros of the aforementioned November '73 shows and a few of the existing '76 shows. However, if the tapes still exist they're gathering dust in a warehouse, and at best qualify as missing rather than lost.
    • The original $25,000 (Bill Cullen, 1974-79) is intact, along with $50,000 (1981) and New $100,000 (John Davidson, 1991), but haven't been seen in years due to rights issues.
      • $50,000 was last seen on CBN in mid-1982, ending shortly after New $25,000 debuted.
      • A few stations aired $25,000 in the 1980s, hence the name change on the CBS version to New $25,000, with most of the circulating episodes coming from WLIG (Long Island, New York) airings in 1985-86. The 1974 pitchfilm, consisting of an intro and close by Cullen sandwiching ten wins from $10,000, is also around.
      • The Davidson $100,000 hasn't been seen since the last repeat aired on March 6, 1992.
  • Host Geoff Edwards has confirmed that every episode of the NBC Jackpot, which he hosted, was destroyed.
  • Several episodes of the UK classic The Golden Shot from Bob Monkhouse's tenure only survive because he, being a compulsive collector, recorded copies at home (production company ATV was notorious for wiping and reusing videotapes to save money). The staff gave him his original Grand Finale from 1972 (with a dedication slide added, as seen in The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse), where he made some rather dark comments during the live broadcast about his ousting and replacement Norman Vaughan. note  Monkhouse was reinstated in July 1974 after the show faltered under Vaughan and Charlie Williams, but the show was canned a year later in favor of Bob's Celebrity Squares. Squares was also largely wiped, but Monkhouse was again responsible for preserving about 40% of the run. Monkhouse also saved dozens of other entertainment shows, not just those in which he appeared.
  • Deal or No Deal didn't air two episodes of the U.S. version, including the first game of the first "Million-Dollar Mission" (where extra $1,000,000 cases were added) because the player knocked out both millions right off the bat, and another random episode just because NBC didn't think it was exciting enough.
  • A set of Lingo episodes with a Hawaiian trip up for grabs were supposed to air in 2005, but canned because the sponsor backed out at the last second. After some finagling, they finally aired in 2007.
  • Survivor has a few examples:
    • Episodes of the show are not typically broadcast after their initial airing, but complete seasons are usually made available on DVD or via digital download, such as iTunes. Seasons 3-6, however, remained unavailable by any legal means for nearly a decade after they were aired. Seasons 3-4 were finally released on DVD in 2010, and Seasons 5-6 followed suit in 2011.
    • Additionally, one episode is still not available by any legal means. Because Season 8 ran for sixteen episodes instead of the normal fourteen, its DVD does not include its mid-season recap episode, whereas all other recap episodes are included on their DVDs.
  • The 13th episode of Monopoly was apparently never taped.
  • For Nickelodeon game shows...
    • One episode of Double Dare never aired thanks to an Obstacle Course mishap. A kid with fragile bones lied on the application form to get on the show. His team made it to the Obstacle Course...and sure enough, he breaks his arm on it. His team made it to obstacle six, but the kid's father (a lawyer) threatened to sue unless they gave him the prize for obstacle seven. They gave the kid the prize.
      • 40 episodes of the first variation of Super Sloppy Double Dare, which aired on Sunday mornings and was more or less a carbon copy of the regular weekday edition, were taped in July 1987. 21 of these aired on Nick GaS, and two that didn't air there circulates, with one of them only having the main game intact. Allegedly, the reason the 19 others did not get shown on Nick GaS was due to a water leakage that severely damaged some of the Double Dare tapes in Nickelodeon's video archives.
      • Highlights from these missing 19 episodes include a general run of the obstacle course starting with The 1-Ton Human Hamster Wheel, host Marc Summers doing a Mary Tyler Moore impersonation, Marc losing it over a toy boat, Marc spitting to the camera during an obstacle course briefing (as shown in the 1988 Direct-to-Video special Double Dare: The Inside Slop), a successful attempt at the "Barber of Seville" physical challenge with a team of two girls, Marc and two kids getting drenched by white slime at the end of the show (as shown in the other 1988 Direct-to-Video special Double Dare: The Messiest Moments), and one team in particular winning the main game with a record-breaking $750 ($375 for each of the two teammates), as described in 1988's The Double Dare Game Book.
      • One Orlando episode from 1989, Seattle Slug Squishers Vs. Disco Dynamos, resurfaced in 2014.
      • In 2016, the Schwarzeneggers vs. Live Wires episode of '87 SSDD was uploaded to YouTube by Adam Barcan of Schwarzeneggers team, albeit in bad aspect ratio quality.
    • Finders Keepers had the same problem, with at least 80 episodes missing from the Nick GaS rota. The Eure era was more severely affected than the Toffler era (from which only the two celebrity weeks were missing; three of the episodes in question are known to exist on the trade circuit), particularly the 1987 season with Harvey as announcer, from which only a dozen episodes aired on Nick GaS. Though a further dozen episodes are known to exist on the trade circuit, the rest have not been seen in over 25 years.
    • The FOX version of Family Double Dare was MIA on Nick GaS (rumors persist that one episode aired in its early days, but any evidence of this has yet to turn up). Those 13 episodes may not have aired on television since 1990, but luckily they've since become available through other means: ten turned up on the trading circuit, and iTunes started selling the remaining three in 2013.
    • All episodes of the Nickelodeon version of FDD aired on GaS...except for one random 1990 episode, which eventually turned up on YouTube in December 2011.
    • 84 episodes of Nick Arcade were produced. Strangely, despite airing on Nick GaS from its inception to its ending, a whopping 20 of those episodes never aired on the channel. Even more strangely, one of those 20 had been posted to Turbonick for a time in the late 2000s...and then another one was offered for sale on iTunes in 2013. There's the possibility that they may have been left out due to rights clearance issues with some of the copyrighted material.
  • The pan-European game show Jeux sans frontières (Games Without Borders/Frontiers, and yes, this is what the Peter Gabriel song is named after) and the various national "qualifying shows" from among the participating countries (including Intervilles in France, Spiel ohne Grenzen in (West) Germany, It's a Knockout in Britain, and Zeskamp in Belgium and the Netherlands) have variable preservation rates depending on the attitudes of the individual broadcasters to keeping the tapes.
    • Almost the entire run of Jeux sans frontières itself has survived, although there is some doubt over the survival of the 1969 grand final in Blackpool, won jointly by the British team from Shrewsbury and the West German team from Wolfsburg note , and the 1971 grand final in Essen, won by the British team from Blackpool. note 
    • A number of the regional commentaries for Jeux sans frontières are lost; the BBC archives are only complete from 1975 onward, though they do include the 1973 grand final in Paris, won by the British team from Ely, and a compilation of clips from the 1974 series. Perhaps the most famous clip to British viewers, the "Penguins on the iceberg" game from the 1974 heat in Aix-les-Bains during which commentator Stuart Hall cannot speak for laughing, is one of the few clips of that episode for which Hall's commentary survives. The original French broadcast of the heat survives in its entirety, and is commercially available on various websites. note 
    • The archives of It's a Knockout are also only complete from 1975 onward, with only a handful of episodes from the first nine seasons (including Blackpool's 1971 qualifier against Colwyn Bay and Ely's 1973 qualifier against Hertford) even partially surviving. However, in the wake of Stuart Hall's 2013 conviction and imprisonment for sexual offences against underage girls, the odds of the surviving episodes being re-run or released on DVD are next to nil.
  • The BBC's sport-themed quiz A Question of Sport has been running since 1970, and crossed the 1,000-episode threshold in March 2013. Of this run, 95 episodes are completely lost, and two only exist in the form of clips used in compilations. The lost episodes include the Stuart Hall-hosted pilot, all but seven of David Vine's episodes in the chair from 1970-77, and 21 episodes from David Coleman's stint as host (the most recent dating from 1 March 1996).
  • Tell the Truth, the UK version of To Tell the Truth, had three incarnations across three and a half decades. The first ran for 76 episodes on ATV from 1957-61, presented by McDonald Hobley, then David Jacobs, then Shaw Taylor. The second version aired from 1983-85 on Channel 4 for 51 episodes, chaired by Graeme Garden. And the third version was produced by TVS and ran for 92 episodes from 1989-90, hosted by Fred Dinenage. None of the ATV episodes survive, while the TVS episodes are in the same limbo as the rest of the TVS library after the paperwork determining who owned the broadcasting rights was lost (although at least some episodes are known to exist on the trading circuit).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/MissingEpisode/GameShows