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Series: Password
aka: Password Plus
The show's (basic) history in one image.

From Hollywood, the word game of the stars, Password!

Game Show created by Bob Stewart for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions in 1961, after the company searched for parlor games that could be played for modest stakes in the wake of the quiz show scandals. Stewart suggested a game whose players asked themselves a simple question: "How well can I communicate with just one word?"

Password debuted in October 1961 on CBS as the first game to have celebrity guests as teammates for civilian contestants, which was a big freaking deal at the time. Allen Ludden left G.E. College Bowl to moderate Password (Robert Earle replaced him on the former), which ran until 1967 on CBS daytime and primetime. Frequent guests included the stars of Bewitched.

Ludden returned as host of ABC's 1971-75 revival, which went through two theme tunes and two sets. The changes were made for Password All-Stars (November 1974 to February 1975), after which members of the public were once again allowed to compete.

Two more daytime revivals appeared on NBC Password Plus from 1979-82, and Super Password from 1984-89. Both used Password Puzzles, wherein each round consisted of five passwords that described another person, place, or thing; for instance, "Wiki", "Lampshade", "Hanging", "Topics", and "Egregious" might be used to describe TV Tropes. These versions also featured a Bonus Round ("Alphabetics" on Plus, "Super Password" on Super) where the celebrity had to describe ten passwords, beginning with consecutive letters of the alphabet, within 60 seconds for a bonus of at least $5,000.

In June 2008, CBS debuted Million-Dollar Password for a brief primetime run on Sunday evenings with Regis Philbin as host. CBS then ordered a second set of episodes, which began airing in January 2009. The show was canned after 12 episodes because, despite winning its timeslot more often than not, it wasn't drawing the demographics the network wanted.

Interestingly, the show returned as a segment on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on January 18, 2011, hosted by Steve Higgins. The segment is, essentially, a simpler version of the later-era CBS style: the game now has words beginning at six points and no Lightning Round, and there's no stated prizes. Its first celebs were Fallon and Password stalwart Betty White. The game was also played during White's 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America's Golden Girl on NBC in January 2012.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: Many.
    • Lightning Round (the Trope Maker, CBS/ABC): One minute to solve five words at $50/word. When moved to ABC, a "Betting Word" was added; players could bet any or all LR earnings on one more word in 10 seconds.
    • Big Money Lightning Round ('75). Three levels, each involving 3 words in :30.
      • Level 1: $25 a word, all three earns $75 plus $5 for every second left.
      • Level 2: Each word is worth however much earned in level one, all three also earns $10/second.
      • Level 3: All three words earn ten times the level two score.
    • Alphabetics/Super Password (Plus/Super): Ten words in alphabetical order in one minute. Each one is worth $100, all ten wins a Progressive Jackpot.
      • Plus: Originally a flat $5,000 (minus $1,000 per illegal clue). Later changed to $5,000 plus $5,000 per non-win up to $50,000 (illegal clues deducted either 20% of the jackpot or a flat $2,500 depending on whatever point in the run). Highest was $35,000.
      • Super: Retains the jackpot, but there is no limit, and illegal clues forfeit the word (and jackpot) entirely. Highest was $55,000, won twice.
    • Million-Dollar. Six levels, each involving five words in 1:30. First level had ten total, then nine and so forth down to five for the final level. The money is progressive ($10K/$25K/$50K/$100K/$250K/$1M), with $25K (and later $250K) as safe levels. The giver is only allowed three clues per word, and once reaching $250K, is shown the words for that level in order to help the player decide whether to go for it or not. Most won was $100,000.
  • Bonus Space: To an extent, the Cashword on Super, which was played in every game after the second puzzle for another Progressive Jackpot of $1,000 plus $1,000 each game until claimed. Highest was $17,000.
  • Celebrity Edition: While many all-celebrity weeks were done over the years (none on Million-Dollar) and All-Stars was built on this trope, there was a massive influx of them in 1974 during what can only be described as an immense pre-All Stars gimmickfest.
  • Game Show Appearance:
    • A famous 1972 episode of The Odd Couple featured Felix and Oscar on a New York-based version of ABC, with the duo Lampshading the obvious difference in sets. Allen Ludden and Betty White, naturally, played themselves.
    • The Late Night segment mentioned above, as well as Betty White's 90th Birthday.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Jack Clark announced on CBS, and John Harlan filled these duties on ABC/All-Stars. Gene Wood announced most of Plus with occasional substitutes. Rich Jefferies announced the first few weeks of Super until Gene took over on that show as well (Jefferies moved to helping Gene as an audience warm-up).
    • Game Show Host: Allen Ludden was the first and most popular, holding the position from 1961-80. Bill Cullen filled in for four weeks in 1980, and Tom Kennedy hosted from late 1980 to 1982. Bert Convy hosted Super, and Regis Philbin hosted Million-Dollar.
    • Studio Audience
    • Betty White: Frequently appeared on both Plus and Super; she and Ludden were married from 1963 until his death in 1981.
  • Show The Folks At Home: "The Password is..."
  • Who Wants To Be Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: Million-Dollar, natch, with the Money Ladder and the overall rapid-fire restructuring of the main game. (And, of course, Regis.)

This show provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Tom Kennedy on Plus, having been a celebrity partner before becoming host. Similarly, Bert Convy was a partner on Plus before hosting Super. Regis has appeared as a celebrity partner in Plus before hosting Million Dollar thirty years later.
  • Berserk Button: If anyone used a sound-alike rhyming word as a clue in the original version, Allen would lightly scold them, saying that while such words are legal to use, in his opinion they go against the spirit of the game and hence discourages their use. By Plus, such words were regularly used without comment from Allen.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "The password is...", whispered by The Announcer on all versions except All-Stars (and the following ABC revamp), Plus, and Million-Dollar.
    • "Hey, doll..." was Allen's greeting to Betty White's mother Tess at the beginning of nearly every show. Tess appeared on ABC as a celebrity challenger during the aforementioned gimmickfest (week of September 23-27, 1974).
    • "Next word, (IF you) please," regularly used by Bert Convy on Super.
  • Cross Over: On an episode of I've Got A Secret, the panel of Bill Cullen, Betsy Palmer, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson introduced "the great new CBS series Password" by playing a few rounds. All four of them (as well as Secret host Garry Moore) would ultimately wind up appearing on the actual show in individual episodes.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Several.
    • Jack Clark occasionally filled-in for Allen on CBS.
    • For three weeks in 1974 (July 1526 and September 2327) during ABC's gimmickfest, Allen played as a celebrity guest while Monty Hall guest-hosted.
    • Allen then played as a celebrity guest shortly after All-Stars ended (March 24-28, 1975), with Betty White guest-hosting.
    • Tom Kennedy once played as a celebrity partner on Plus in March 1982, with his brother Jack Narz hosting. It was the last time most of the country saw Narz hosting a game show; viewers of KDOC in Anaheim, California got to see him host the No Budget You've Got To Be Kidding in late 1987.
  • Downer Ending:
    • On an episode of Super, Dick Gautier and his teammate blazed through the first nine words of the endgame, but then Dick accidentally blurted out the answer to the last word, costing her $10,000.
    • On another Super episode, Roz Ryan and her teammate got past the first nine words before giving the illegal clue, "Ha ha" for "Joke", on the tenth. After guessing the word, the pair began celebrating until the judge informed them that "Ha ha" is two words which meant they lost.
    • On yet another episode of Super, Richard Simmons attempted to cut himself off while giving an illegal clue on the final word of the endgame, originally resulting in a $15,000 win. After checking the tape, the judges confirmed he did not stop himself in time and the endgame was declared a loss.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: For the first few weeks of Plus, some elements of the set were different. Most notably, the Alphabetics board was suspended by wires, instead of hidden in a cabinet.
  • Every Episode Ending: Most episodes, when Ludden hosted, ended with him giving a "Password of the day" and usually ending it with the words "Think about it."
  • Expy: You Dont Say, a word-association game which debuted in 1963, began with a virtually-identical set but moved the host's podium from the center to the far left in 1964 or '65.
    • Also, The Object Is, a short-lived 1963 ABC game show (the first hosted by Dick Clark) which was a curious hybird of Password and You Don't Say.
    • More blatant is Goodson-Todman's Snap Judgment (one of the only Goodson-Todman games that has been entirely wiped), which debuted on April 11, 1967. For most of its run, Snap was a contrived word-association game of its own, but for the last three months (December 23, 1968 to March 28, 1969) it was Re Tooled as a 100% clone of original-recipe Password...complete with the same exact desk.
    • NBC's most recent prime time game show, Hollywood Game Night, has a segment called "Take A Hint," in which the three celebrity players on each side each give one-word clues to their civilian partner for him/her to identify words.
  • Grand Finale: The last episode of ABC in 1975 featured a final game played by four Goodson-Todman staffers. Neither team got to the normal format's 50-point goal.
  • Halloween Episode: For one Halloween Week on Super, Bert had two bags one orange marked "Treats", one black marked "Tricks". For each puzzle, the winning contestant would pick a prize at random from the "Treat" bag (toys and little gifts such as magnetic balls) and the loser a prize from the "Trick" bag (things like a random piece of wood or assorted pocket lint).
  • In and Out of Character: Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence were the celebs for one early week on Plus. At one point, Allen suggested they come back at a later date as their characters Eunice and Mama. They did just that a few weeks later, playing in character against McLean Stevenson and Joanna Gleason's Hello Larry characters Larry and Morgan.
  • In-Series Nickname: The device concealing the Ca$hword check on Super was called the Magic Toaster.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Several.
    • December 23, 1980: It took nearly five minutes to get Plus back on track after Tom Kennedy cracked up over Dick Martin's reaction to giving "France" as a clue for "French". In 2008, Kennedy donated a copy of the unedited master tape to the Television Production Music Museum, and it quickly spread to YouTube.
    • January 1982: During one puzzle, the word "Hairy" was ruled unacceptable for the password "Harry". Marcia Wallace contested this (since homophones of words are accepted), so the next day Tom hauled out a chalkboard and gave everyone a phonics lesson.
  • Literal-Minded: Following a celebrity accidentally giving the Cashword as a clue on Super, Bert asked the producer what they did in that situation. Upon being told to "throw it out", he picked up the Magic Toaster and threw it behind him, asking what to do next as he did so. The Toaster broke as it hit the floor. Cue an Oh Crap look on Bert's face when the celebrity informed him that he broke the Toaster.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Not the show itself, but the Ca$hword round on Super.
    • Password Plus + if you count the + in the logo and all over the set.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: While the main-game passwords on Plus and Super were sometimes a bit tough, they paled in comparison to the Ca$hword. Some of these words were nothing short of impossible to convey using just one-word clues, even given three chances. (Prime example: "Backgammon".)
    • Three clues: Dice; Checkers; fronT? (read that last clue with a rising tone, as to convey an opposite).
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: A winner on Super walked away with $58,600 (including a record-setting $55,000 jackpot in the Bonus Round)...but it was later revealed that he was a convict who had entered the show with a pseudonym. More info here.
  • Nintendo Hard: The time limits and/or word difficulty on Million-Dollar, coupled with the inane "clue-response-clue" rule (see below) and forcing each half-hour to be self-contained, meant there was no way anybody was going to win the Million. Also, the Ca$hword in Plus tended to be towards this.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Several.
    • CBS went from one pair of contestants playing only one round, to the same pair playing two rounds after switching partners, to the whole half-hour featuring just those two players switching partners after every round.
    • ABC introduced the play-or-pass option of passing the first opportunity to give a clue to the other team if the player felt the word needed a minimum of two clues to be guessed (as can be seen in the Odd Couple episode).
    • For the first few weeks of Plus, Allen went out of his way to remind everyone that although the clues still had to be one non-hyphenated word, the passwords themselves could now be two words like "New York" or "Twenty-Four".
      • On April 23, 1979, Plus made antonyms illegal clues. Sure, some words are very hard to convey using one-word clues that aren't the opposite, but making antonyms illegal meant that brains were exercised by requiring more thought to convey words (much later, on Million-Dollar, contestants kept passing on words that didn't have a clear opposite).
      • Similarly, Plus changed its Alphabetics jackpot in 1981 to increase by $5,000 until claimed, with illegal clues deducting $1,000 (later 20% of the current total being played for).
    • Super reversed the Plus antonym rule (making them legal again), the Bonus Round rules (once again denying the ability to gain the jackpot if an illegal clue was given), and removed the play-or-pass option.
  • Off the Rails: The "testimony" incident.
  • Oh Crap: Bert's reaction to blurting out the password, which he did quite often. He gets a particularly good moment here.
  • Opening Narration: Several over the course of the run. The 1971-1974 version, as done by John Harlan, is quoted at the top of the page.
    • Ludden credited long time Password player Carol Burnett with coming up with the narration "It's more than just Password...it's Password Plus!" Ater a while, "It's more than just Password" was dropped.
    • Super shortened it to "It's Password... It's Super Password!"
  • Opening Narration Drop: As seen in one of the early GSN ads for Plus, while talking with Allan, David Letterman slips in the Opening Narration while Allan discribes the new gameplay.
    David Letterman "Well, (of course), it's more than just Password...
    Allan Ludden "It's Password Plus!"
    David Letterman "Well...yeah..."
  • Press X to Die: Anyone who ever gave the password as a clue, which may or may not be justified as a case of Ignore The Disability, as the word is right in front of them. Probably the same reason that Bert Convy himself did it more than once.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: The ABC version changed its set and theme tune for the transition to Password All-Stars. Robert Israel's synthesized theme was replaced by Bob Cobert's "Bicentennial Funk".
    • In 1963, the first theme—Kurt Rehfeld's Holiday Jaunt—was replaced with a Bob Cobert composition many believe to be called "You Have the Password."
  • Running Gag: It was common on Super for someone to throw a roll of tape at Bert if they thought he was on the verge of blurting out the answer.
    • Also on Super, if neither Bert nor the teams knew the answer to a puzzle, Bert would sometimes ask announcer Gene Wood whether he knew, to which Gene would always cheerfuly respond, "Yep!"
      • Another Super one- The guy working the board looking like Santa (tends to come up more in the Christmas week shows, of course).
  • Scenery Porn: All of the show's sets were bright and colorful with attention paid to every detail (including the parts not normally seen on-camera)...except the Million-Dollar set. It might have been cool to some, but it certainly wasn't bright or colorful.
  • Secret Word: In this game show contestants had to guess a secret word through a series of clues.
  • Shout-Out: Every once in a while the writers included a password that had a meaning for one of the celebs, such as "Secret" for Betsy Palmer, "Crane" for Bob Crane, "Ukulele" for Arthur Godfrey, "Court" for The Defenders' E.G. Marshall, "Huddle" for Frank Gifford and, perhaps most famously, "Skipper" for Bob Denver.
    • Lest we forget "Miser" for Jack Benny. His clue to his partner: "Me!"
    • It once happened in reverse Florence Henderson got the word "Bunch" about three years before she became Mrs. Brady.
    • One Plus episode had the first three puzzle clues "STUFFED" "RED" "HEAD". Lucille Ball jokingly guessed "Me!" (The actual answer was cabbage.)
    • One Super puzzle during the week that Star Trek stars James Doohan and Michael Dorn played against each other contained the word "Scottish". Dorn gave the clue "Doohan", and despite all the nodding he did to the other side he could not make his partner understand that he did not say "Doing".
    • The title character of the short lived Game Show Network Original ''Burt Luddens Love Buffet'' was a Shout-Out to the hosts of 'Plus' and 'Super' (albeit spelled Burt instead of Bert).
  • Signing Off Catch Phrase: Allen Ludden always ended his versions of the show with a password of the day.
  • Trash the Set: The aforementioned incident with Betty and the Magic Toaster.
  • Up to Eleven: The original intro to Plus went "It's more than Password, it's Password Plus!"
  • Urban Legend: It has been rumored for many years that an African-American contestant (or sometimes, an African-American celebrity such as Nipsey Russell), given the clue of "Doe" (for the word "Deer"), answered with "Knob". According to Snopes, there is no record of this having ever happened; further, if it did happen and it was on CBS (daytime) or ABC, there's a pretty good reason why there's no record.
    • Although often debunked as a case of racist humor {ridiculing the speech patterns of African-Americans}, there is a plausible, non-racist explanation: the African-American contestant or celebrity simply misheard the clue-giver, and in a moment of absentmindedness thought s/he had heard "Door" (in which case "Knob" would be a very logical guess).
  • Word Association Test: The Game.

"Allen Ludden saying the Password for today is "TV Tropes". TV Tropes collects and expands on conventions and devices in creative works, such as Password, and we think it's a pretty nice place. See you next time, I hope."
ParlamentetGame ShowSuper Pay Cards
PassionsAmerican SeriesThe Patty Duke Show

alternative title(s): Password Plus; Super Password; Password All Stars; Million Dollar Password; Password; Super Password
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