Series / Cash Cab

"There are 13,000 taxicabs on the streets of New York. But only one of them pays you."
Benjamin Bailey, Cash Cab

Game Show debuting on December 5, 2005 in which ordinary New Yorkers get in what appears to be an ordinary taxicab. They are questioned on the way to their destination by driver/host Ben Bailey, and for each question they answer correctly, they get money. If they miss three questions, the cab pulls over and tosses the passenger out on the street.

Contestants get two "shout-out" options: a Street Shout-Out and a Mobile Shout-Out. The first allows the contestant to call someone from a nearby sidewalk for help and the latter allows the contestant to phone a friend for help. Stopping at a red light results in a "Red Light Challenge": Complete a list answering a question or solve a word problem and the contestant(s) gain a bonus $250 ($500 on a Double Ride) — but no strike is given for failing one of these. If they successfully get to their destination without getting three strikes, they then have an All or Nothing moment: They can either take the money, or go for a double-or-nothing Video Bonus challenge.

The original UK version (which didn't have the double-or-nothing challenge) visited various cities, but was dropped by ITV1 two episodes into Season 2. In the United States, the show expanded into Chicago starting on Valentine's Day 2011. There is also a Canadian version hosted by Adam Growe; it spent its first few seasons in Toronto, and now takes place in Vancouver.

But it should but noted that the contestants aren't always just people getting in off the street. About half the time they're "cast" like any other game show, albeit in a different way than the usual. The show's producers talk to them in a pub or somesuch, claiming to be from another reality show; when the contestant(s) get into the cab, supposedly to go to said show, they realize they're actually playing Cash Cab. (Thus, when players get ejected from the cab for losing, it doesn't mean they're going to end up being late for something else because they were depending on the cab to get there.) About half the time, they're actually picked up off the street.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • All or Nothing: Miss three questions during the ride, and you lose it all plus you're booted out of the cab. Also, the Video Bonus question if the players decide to go for it.
    • However, would getting about 60% of your taxi ride for free be a sufficient Consolation Prize?
  • Bonus Round: The Video Bonus question, which doubles the players' winnings if they go for it and answer correctly.
  • Bonus Space: The Red Light Challenge. The Canadian version's Vancouver season also added the "Bridge Bonus", doubling the value of any question asked when crossing a bridge. Metro Vancouver has quite a few of them.
  • Driven By The Host: Quite literally.
    • Game Show Host: Ben Bailey, who had to go to taxicab-driving school before he could host — since, you know, he does drive a legitimate taxicab. Beth Melewski hosts/drives the Chicago version.
  • Lifelines: Called "Shout-Outs". The passengers can call someone on their mobile phone or ask pedestrians for the answer once during the game. It starts to get grating to the viewers and host when the shout outs are continually referred to by name as a Lifeline. In recent seasons of the Canadian version, contestants can also switch out a question later in the game. The Shout-Outs cannot be used during either the Red Light Challenge or the Video Bonus.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aside Glance: He does this several times during the show. Here's one example, where the question was the ink commonly used in temporary tattoos:
    Contestant: I know this!
    Ben: You do?
    Contestant: Hentai!
  • Anachronism Stew: On the Canadian series, Adam Growe is apparently unaware that Charles Darwin died more than 30 years before the Piltdown Man hoax.
  • Berserk Button: As mentioned in one stand-up routine, Ben does not deal well with road rage, traffic jams, or jerks who try to deal with traffic jams by repeatedly honking their horns.
    "Located in downtown-" BWAAAAAAAA!
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Bailey will sometimes greet contestants with a stereotypical New Yawk, East Indian, or Arab accent.
  • Large Ham: Ben will often make silly faces when a contestant is using their mobile Shout-Out and informing their friend that, yes, they're on Cash Cab. Also, "We're at a red light, and that triggers a Red Light CHAL-L-L-L-ENGE!"
  • Product Placement: In the early days, there was "Dial up your mobile shout-out on your Cingular wireless connection". Subtle.
  • Random Passerby Advice: Can be invoked once by the passenger.
  • Rare Vehicles: Toyota Sienna minivans aren't rare as such, even as NYC taxis, but the Ford Crown Victoria sedan is still by far the most common cab.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness:
    • The passengers have varying amounts of familiarity with Cash Cab, but at least one player has recognized the eponymous cab before he even got in.
      "...It's the PARTY VAN!"
      "A disco cab!"
    • Clear on the other end of the spectrum, one contestant was so oblivious to what was going on that Ben had to fire off the game-starting party lights three times just to get their attention!
    • Justified in the first season as contestants did not have any idea what they are getting in. In later seasons, some people actually started Squeeing when they realized they just got into the Cash Cab.
  • Reverse Psychology: Quite often, Ben gives an "oooh", "oww", or any negative reactions when the given answer was correct.
  • Title Drop: Several times.
  • Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": In a taxi.

"And the Cash Cab rolls on."