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Series: Deal or No Deal

"Ladies, please..."
Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal

"We've had game shows based on card games. We've had game shows based on pub quizzes. But never have we had a game show based on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Until now... In other words, my suitcase contains the financial equivalent of Schrödinger's Cat: a sum that exists in a theoretical superposition, being both substantial and meager until I open and observe it, thereby assigning it a quantifiable value in the physical universe."

A popular Game Show; the format itself originated as the Bonus Round of a game show for the Netherlands' Postcode Lottery known as Miljoenenjacht, but soon took a life of its own as a stand-alone game worldwide. The American version achieved near-instant popularity after its debut on NBC in December 2005, while other versions — which some have compared to the Geoff Edwards versions of Treasure Hunt — air pretty much everywhere.

On the NBC version, host Howie Mandel asked a contestant to choose one of 26 numbered briefcases held by identically-dressed sex objec-er, models. Each briefcase contained a different amount of money from 1¢ to $1,000,000. The game proceeded as the contestant chose to see the contents of the other briefcases. By process of elimination, the contestant guessed how much money his or her briefcase contained. As briefcases were eliminated, the Banker made offers for the contestant's case (more or less the arithmetic mean of the amounts still on the board by the end of the game, less than that early on). Ultimately, the player had to choose between one of the deals offered by the Banker and the value of the case chosen at the beginning. The contestant's time on the show ended when a deal was made, or the contestant stuck it out to the end; in the event a deal was taken, the other cases were opened to see whether the deal made was a good one. Occasional special episodes increased the maximum prize to $2,000,000 or more.

Unfortunately, to make up for the variable length of each game, the NBC version employed Padding. Lots and lots of Padding. The hour-long Deal was put out of its misery on May 18, 2009.

A half-hour syndicated version debuted in September 2008 and essentially cut out all the fluff while adding various elements of the British version (see below), with a top prize of $500,000. Gimmicks were still used, however, and the 22 contestants (and their replacements) only stayed on for one week. Ratings fell sharply during the second year, and the show wrapped production around midseason. The series was put out of its misery again, this time for good, on May 28, 2010; repeats continued to air through September 10 in syndication, and September 28 on MyNetworkTV.

The British version (hosted by Noel Edmonds, a former DJ and Saturday Night presenter whose career had been on the skids) was such a hit that a Saturday primetime show was added. The UK version has 22 boxes, each manned by a possible future contestant (they're sequestered together when they're not filming to encourage rapport during the game), with the top prize being £250,000.

There is also a Nigerian version, hosted by former British footballer John Fashanu, which uses the models-holding-the-cases format, but also allows the contestant to confer with a few family members over whether or not to take a Deal.


Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Carried by the Host: Well, maybe more by the ladies, but Howie defined the show for Americans.
    • Andrew O'Keefe basically is the Australian version. Even after 1,000+ episodes, he still has the same enthusiasm as he did on the first day.
    • Noel Edmonds is this for the British version, for better or worse. He tends to share this trope with the contestants — after all, some of those holding the boxes have been there for weeks!
  • Celebrity Edition: The Australian version has special weeks where Dancing with the Stars contestants play for home viewers. One of them, Anh Do, actually became the series' second top prize winner (though technically, it was the home viewer he was playing for who won that money).
    • The British version had a celebrity edition, where the celebrity played for a charity and the box holders were all people selected by the celebrity (e.g. Jimmy Carr did a show were all the people with the boxes were other stand-ups)
  • Confetti Drop: Top prize winners of all three aforementioned countries get showered with confetti (and money in the US version) at the game's end.
  • Game Show Appearance: Comic Relief did probably the straightest example ever with the UK version, with Catherine Tate as her sitcom character Nan.
  • Home Game: Among other kinds, an arcade version actually worth playing since you can win redemption tickets.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: Even when a contestant takes a deal, the rest of the game was played out as if s/he hadn't. It was a really painful experience if the contestant had the top amount in their suitcase. Especially annoying on NBC, which sometimes stretched it out over two or more segments.
    • Subverted in the UK and Australian versions, because even after taking a deal your game may not necessarily be over; if two vastly different numbers are left at the end, the Banker may offer the player a "Banker's Gamble" (UK) or "Chance" (AU), thus giving you the opportunity to forfeit your deal and open your case. This resulted in the UK version's second top-prize winner.
  • Monty Hall Problem: Subverted. While a contestant who reached the final case was always offered the opportunity to switch it out with his/her case, Howie went out of his way to explain that this was not a Monty Hall situation: the show offered the switch to everyone who got that far, and he had no personal knowledge of which case contained which dollar amount.
  • Mystery Box: Quite a few of them, in fact.
    • The UK version took this a step farther by adding a 23rd Box; should the player decide to open it, it would either double/halve/lose the money, keep it as is, or add £10,000.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Joe Cipriano, though his work was done in post.
    • Game Show Host: Howie Mandel in America, Noel Edmonds in Britain.
    • Lovely Assistant: Twenty-six of them on the NBC version, two during the syndicated run.
    • Studio Audience: Of which 22 are picked to open boxes in the syndicated and British versions.
  • Product Placement: Some cases in the syndicated run promoted HP, Listerine, Sears, Splenda, Evian, and Visine-A.
  • Show The Folks At Home: See Trailers Always Spoil, below.
  • Who Wants To Be Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: NBC managed to follow ABC's Millionaire lead and run the show so many times per week people got bored of it. The 2007-08 Writers Strike didn't help matters any, as Deal and other games were used to plug the holes left by dramatic programming.
  • Zonk: What happens when you knock out the big prizes early in the game.
    • The Christmas 2007 episode featured gag prizes in lieu of certain small amounts. The case usually reserved for 1¢ contained a "Lump Of Coal", for example.


This show provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: As mentioned before, the game itself began as the bonus round of a Endemol-produced lottery game show in the Netherlands known as Miljoenenjacht (hosted by Linda de Mol, the sister of Endemol co-founder John de Mol). Basically, an audience of 500 contestants, divided into 10 sections, played a multi-stage elimination quiz (first going between the two halves of the studio as teams, then by the five sections within, then through the people in the section, with some Let's Make a Deal style bail-out offers and other things here and there too, etc). The single remaining contestant then played Deal as we know it. The show previously used a trivia-based bonus round where correct answers to seven multiple-choice questions added zeros to their prize (similarly to The Price Is Right's Grand Game) with a top prize of 10,000,000 guilder) before switching to the briefcase game shortly after the official adoption of the Euro currency.
    • Adaptation Distillation: The Miljoenenjacht format (quiz and all) did get exported to Belgium, but must of the international versions since either downsized the quiz portion into something more akin to the Fastest Finger rounds from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, or dropped the quiz entirely and either picked a contestant randomly from a pool of contestants on-stage (like most European versions and the U.S. syndicated run), or just used a contestant pre-determined before the show (like the U.S. primetime version).
  • Bald of Awesome: Howie Mandel.
  • Big Red Button: Arguably, the "Deal" button, with its throbbing red light.
  • Canada, Eh?: The five Deal Or No Deal Canada specials filmed for Global (who also aired the U.S. version), which were filmed in Toronto (at the CBC's headquarters; the backdrop was of Toronto too), hosted by a Canadian (Howie Mandel) with Canadian models, bragged about tax-free winnings, had a main stage shaped like a maple leaf, a Home Participation Sweepstakes that Canada could finally enter, "Loonie" and "Toonie" ($1 and $2) as the bottom amounts, and the Banker's office made to look like a penalty box (he even paced back and forth in it like a hockey coach).
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Done to incredibly-annoying levels during the NBC run.
  • Cross Over: The British version did a charity 'mash-up' with comedy panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats, where Jimmy Carr (the host of the latter) took over hosting duties from Noel Edmonds for one episode and the the latter's show's team captains (Jon Richardson and Sean Lock) were dual contestants.
  • Downer Ending: On the British version, elderly contestant Corinne had a goal to buy a vintage Bentley from her birth year — something that would cost over £200,000, thus she was interested only in the top prize. Thoroughly uninterested in any bank offers, she managed to keep the £250,000 to the end, but with 1p as the other box remaining. Exasperated, the Banker offered Corinne £88,000, which she again declined. She turned down the swap, and...well, the fact that this is listed here pretty much gives the rest away.
    • Contestant Mark on the UK version managed to set an impossibly low record during the Gold Medal Deal week, which was held in honor of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The week featured a Nintendo Hard Catapult game when there were 5 boxes left, and one of the prizes was an all-expenses-paid holiday. When Mark managed to knock down all the highest amounts from the board and failed the catapult game (like everyone else that week), he was down to two boxes, £50 and £500. Possibly in an attempt to throw the poor guy a bone, the Banker said that if he had the box with £500 in it, he would also throw in the holiday that nobody had been able to win, under the condition that if the box contained the £50, he would walk away with nothing at all. Mark accepted, and... his box had £50. Meaning that Mark was the first person in any Deal ever to walk away without even a single penny. Everyone was in tears, and Noel stated that it was unquestionably the unluckiest game of Deal ever.
      • Not quite true, actually. 3 or 4 other contestants have taken similar offers from the Banker, failed, and walked away penniless. Considering he knocked out 10 of the reds save for the £5,000 in his first 11 boxes and never got an offer above £199, though, he still easily holds the title of unluckiest Do ND contestant ever.
  • Epic Fail: Oh, boy.
    • This guy on the Australian version lost all four greens with his first four picks and got a bank offer of ten cents. After all was said and done, the player ended up getting $10.
      • He would come back for a special "Banker's Rematch" a few years later and did a lot better...but not before knocking out the $200,000 in his first pick YET AGAIN. To make it even worse, the top amount was in Case #14, which was his original case in his initial game.
    • And for Epic Fail endings, you can't beat this guy from the Australian version who had 50c and $1 left at the end and won the 50c. He seemed to take it in stride, though, and at least got a giant mock-up check for making DOND history.
    • A contestant in the American version dealt for $81,000 with half the board remaining. When they played out the "what if", most of the subsequent cases he picked out were the low values and the Banker's offers rose to $550,000. What was his case? $1,000,000. He was lucky, but bailed way too soon.
    • The very first Aussie contestant could also qualify, as the very first case he opened contained $2,000,000. While he did end up with a decent amount of money in $41,500, he still had the $1,000,000 in play when he dealt with 11 cases remaining. With most of the remaining cases in the "what if" segment being low values, the Banker's offers rose to $145,500 before the "final six" (75¢, $50, $500, $50K, $75K, $1M), $352,000 with the $50K, $75K, and $1M still in play, and $585,000 at the end. His case only contained $50,000, but it was still a bad deal regardless.
    • This player from the early Australian episodes (the ones with the $2,000,000 top prize) knocked out the top three amounts in her first three picks ($1M, $2M, $500K). By the "final six", the remaining cases were 25¢, 50¢, $5, $25, $250, and $100K, with a $24,500 offer from the Bank. Her father suggested she open one more case, which she did, and I'd give you three guesses as to what her next pick contained, but you'll only need one.note 
    • The Aussie version had the hapless Peter Popas, who won $2, wagered it all on the Double or Nothing feature, and lost. The show gave him a Giant Novelty Check for "Nothing".
    • This Aussie contestant became one of the many Monkey (50¢) winners after his game pretty much fell apart by the Final Six. Semi-subverted in which his partner won $10,000 for a successful Megaguess.
    • The infamous six million dollar top prize playthrough, which touted the idea an armored car with an escort had been brought in to ferry the dough safely. And there were several seven-figure amounts on the board that playthrough. The event failed spectacularly. In fact, you could have probably gauged a significant drop in viewers the moment the $6,000,000 case was revealed as they clicked off the channel in disappointment.
      • It also served as a reminder of how overblown DOND could be, and the show never managed to give away that much money to a single contestant, and only once did the US version give a way seven figure prize winnings- to its only winner. And they had to make half of the cases contain the million just to force a win. Yes- the US version couldn't manage even a normal win due to its broken format.
    • One contestant on the US version walked away with $5- the lowest amount they ever gave away. Later lampshaded in a special DOND episode that looked back at the lowest winners, and the banker was quote as calling her his favorite contestant.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Banker.
  • Filler: The NBC run had two-hour episodes during sweeps consisting of one game with so much filler (celebrity cameos, gimmick-deals the contestant would never take, lengthened pauses, even field pieces!) that it was obviously done to keep NBC from airing a bomb drama or sitcom. They ended up airing a bomb game show, instead.
  • Follow the Leader: A self-inflicted example. Endemol gave ABC a big-money, luck-based "pick the object" game called Set For Life in Summer 2007. It was terrible and got canned after seven episodes.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The Banker rarely appears on-screen in any version.
  • Idiot Ball: The majority of contestants get handed one at some point. The most persistent carriers of the Ball frequently end up carrying it straight to a 1¢ win as they are too stubborn and/or stupid to give up and take the deal offered. It's especially bad when the Banker decides to give them the Game Show equivalent of a pity party and offer them something very close to the top remaining amount...and they still walk away with the penny.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Nothing but.
  • Jerkass: The Banker in the American version usually insulted players (through Howie on the phone) if said contestants did or said something funny or obnoxious. One of the last NBC-era contestants was a math teacher trying to figure out what the Banker's first offer would be, which made the Banker flash the studio lights with a sound clip saying "Nerd alert!" The Banker then stuck it to him by making the offer a measly $3 for trying to do the Banker's job.
    • The Banker in the British version is a Scrooge-like character who sometimes laughs when contestants hit a bad run. Though the odd time he throws them a bone if things get really bad, he still clearly has a blast offering the Sadistic Choice or seeing players defeated.
  • Mood Whiplash: The 2000th British game. Noel ended up getting Gotcha'ed himself.
  • Pet the Dog: One contestant on the British version really needed money, but made some bad decisions and was left with a pitiful amount. He was so obviously distressed that the Banker phoned up again and offered to buy the mug he'd been drinking from for a ridiculously-high sum.
  • Random Number God: Many contestants come up with systems to govern what order they open the boxes in, in accordance with some bizarre belief that this will help. Some of these really do start to look like Random Number Worship after a bit.
    • One US Contestant actually lampshaded and defied this, intentionally choosing numbers that had either no or minimal significance to him. (For example, he chose his first case because a drunk guy in Ohio once told him that was his lucky number.)
    • Owing to the UK version initially using Microsoft Excel to assign cash values to boxes, the same sequence of cash values would frequently appear in the same boxes as its RNG was only psuedo-random. One eagle-eyed viewer noticed this and wrote in to the show to tell them. Subsequently, values were picked by drawing balls out of a bag.
  • Repeating so the Audience Can Hear: Used endlessly in conversations with the Banker.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: One episode featured Bobby Generic from Bobby's World voiced by, you guessed it, Howie Mandel. He asked the contestant if he accepts the offer or continue. Obviously, the contestant has to act it out and told before he liked Bobby's World.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: In 2006, the rival network Canale 5 poached the original host of the Italian version to host a very blatant ripoff called Fattore C. It was basically the exact same game, except replacing the boxes with busts of celebrities, and adding funky rules such as the contestant needing to answer a question about one of the bust celebrities to receive an offer, and that the contestant could only keep what was in their box...-er bust, if it was the larger of the final two amounts. Needless to say, it got sued out of existence.
    • Some casinos use their own Deal knockoffs, obviously for much lower stakes.
  • Shout-Out: The title music for the US version is derived from the theme music of Dog Eat Dog, which also appeared on NBC in the States.
  • Title Drop: After revealing the Banker's offer, the host always asks the contestant "Deal or No Deal?"
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The commercials NBC ran took almost all of the suspense out of watching, because they showed the contestant reaching a certain point...yet the network still insisted on showing us all the fluff and crap before the stuff in the trailers. And both times the million was actually won, they hyped the hell out of it!
    • Partway through the second syndicated season, a gimmick was introduced where the home viewers were shown, before the game even began, which cases contained the top two prizes and the penny. Needless to say, this completely killed the last bit of suspense that made the American version fun to watch.
  • Zonk: In the US version, for the Thanksgiving specials and Christmas. $10 was replaced by a pumpkin pie and $25 by a turkey. The doubled suitcase top prize had a stuffed turkey inside as a humorous touch for the winner that never was. In another special, they added gravy, which replaced $.01, cranberry sauce, which replaced $1, and stuffing, which replaced $5. On a Christmas special in 2007, $1 was replaced by coal, $5 was replaced by eggnog, and $10 was replaced by fruitcake. Gag prizes showed up in the Rockin' 80's special of January 2008: $1 was replaced by a scrunchy, $5 was replaced by hairspray, $10 was replaced by leg warmers, and $25 was replaced by a boom box. Subverted when a real prize was in play was on the January 14th, 2008 edition airing- where a truck replaced the $50,000 spot.

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The Dating GameGame ShowDebt

alternative title(s): Deal Or No Deal
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