What An Idiot / Game Shows

On Game Shows, one of the most popular forms of entertainment, contestants display their knowledge and smarts to the entire nation. However, some contestants make complete fools of themselves and do things that not only dumbfound the host, but cause the audience to break out in complete hysterics.

To be fair, just like with the separate game show pages in What an Idiot! (for longer-running programs), said players try their best to perform well. After all, they're in front of cameras and (often) a studio audience is watching their every move. Plus, they may be under a time limit and the show is taping to be shown sometime in the future. As such, it can be expected for some to be unusually nervous and as a result, give into pressure. Pat Sajak – especially after a Bonus Round loss of a seemingly easy puzzle – has said many times that playing the game at home or from the studio audience is far different than it is for the contestants, who are under stress to do well and sometimes fail to perform under pressure. (Still, please try to refrain from making Justifying Edits.)

Then again, some contestants do give the wrong answer on purpose, just for a few laughs or simply to show off. That doesn't make them any less stupid, mind you, but instead become far more worthy of being here. These examples are classic instances of a contestant blowing it big time.

Game Shows with their own pages:

Other examples:

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     1 vs. 100 
  • One Mob member on 1 vs. 100 missed a question that essentially asked what a "#2 Dixon Ticonderoga" is, guessing a lunchbox instead of the right answer of a pencil. When asked to explain her guess, she figured that since "#2" is slang for a bowel movement, that "lunchbox" was slang for a really big bowel movement.
  • One contestant, when asked if the US flag has more red stripes, white stripes, or the same number of each, polled the mob and asked how many said they had the same number. After seeing the low response, she said that she knew the flag had an odd number of stripes. So either she was lying, or stupid.
  • One question asked how many six-packs would get you 99 bottles of beer, with the choices being greater than, less than or exactly fifteen. The contestant used a help, claiming to not know much about beer. The question also knocked out a ton of mob members who, when interviewed, said they weren't beer drinkers either. That's great, but the question was a math problem!
  • The very first One on the American version to lose to the Mob got handed a question that he used both of the Helps that were allowed at the time on it. At this point in the game, about half of the Mob was still around, including Ken Jennings. The first help, "Poll The Mob", had only 4 players picking the answer he asked about, and Jennings wasn't one of them.
    • You'd Expect: For him to realize that at this relatively early stage, Four Is Death, and the answer they chose is clearly wrong.
    • Instead: He uses his other Help, still thinking that answer. This can be somewhat justified, but...
    • This Results In: The second Help, "Ask The Mob", picks two members, one who had the correct answer, and, as it turns out, one of the 4 players who gave the answer he polled about earlier. They have to be honest with which answer they chose, but can be deceptive about why. This knocks out the other incorrect answer, by the way.
    • You'd Expect: For him to get it right. There is really no reason to trust one of the four at this point when everyone else said the other one.
    • Instead: He locks in the answer the 4 players chose, because that was "his first instinct."
    • The Result: To not many people's surprise, he gets it wrong, and loses the entire game alongside the "fantastic four" plus one other person who had given the other wrong answer, losing his money to the Mob and Ken Jennings, who all got it right.
  • February 2008: the American version aired a pop culture-themed episode and brought on a contestant who claimed to be a pop culture buff. He was asked which movie—The Simpsons Movie, Spider-Man 3, or Superbad—had fittingly premiered in Springfield, Vermont.
    • You'd Expect: The guy knows The Simpsons takes place in a town called Springfield, and goes with The Simpsons Movie.
    • Instead: He leaned towards Superbad; he Polled the Mob about it, and found that only three of them had chosen it. Still unsure, he Asked the Mob; the two Asked members had chosen Simpsons and Superbad, which ruled out Spider-Man 3.
    • You'd Then Expect: The contestant figures Simpsons is correct, since only a few Mob members chose Superbad.
    • Instead: STILL unsure, he wasted his one remaining help by Trusting the Mob. He moved on and got a sneak peek at the next question—it was about Patti Scialfa, whom he had never heard of before.
    • You'd THEN Expect: The contestant takes his stupidly earned money and leaves.
    • INSTEAD: He kept going, despite having no helps and knowing nothing about the question's subject.
    • FINALLY: The question asked which musical artist Scialfa used to sing back-up for. The correct answer was Bruce Springsteen, but the contestant ruled him out and chose someone else, thus leaving the show with nothing.
    • Contestant's "Justification": He didn't know anything about Springsteen's backup singers, so he decided it couldn't be him. That was literally his reasoning.

    The $1,000, 000 Chance Of A Lifetime 
  • 1986: On a late-Season 1 episode of The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime, two couples (already struggling during a bad day on the show) were faced with a puzzle whose clues led to "IMELDA MARCOS".
    • You'd Expect: With numerous clues including "shoes" and "Philippines" showing, for at least one of the four contestants to recognize the name of the widow of the Filipino dictator, who was constantly in the news at about that time.
    • Instead: Both couples are completely stumped, and both admit they had never so much as heard of Marcos.
  • In another episode, all but the M's are showing in the puzzle "MOUNT RUSHMORE".
    • You'd Expect: At least one of the couples to recognize the name of a well-known national landmark.
    • Instead: Nobody can solve it.

    The Adventure Game 
  • 1981: In Series 2 of The Adventure Game, the teams were told they had to rescue Series 1 contestant Lesley Judd, who had been imprisoned by the Argonds (the Sufficiently Advanced Alien race who set the puzzles in each episode) after her team's failure; unbeknownst to them, she had gone native and become a mole for the Argonds. In the first episode of the series, the contestants were The Goodies star Graeme Garden, Play School presenter Carol Chell, and British Rubik's Cube champion Nicholas Hammond; Garden, a Cambridge graduate in medicine, proved almost scarily capable at solving the episode's puzzles, and quickly cottoned on to Judd's treachery. Thirty minutes into the episode, the team and Judd were gathered to unmask the mole.
    • You'd Expect: Chell and Hammond to realise the value of having a skilled puzzle solver like Garden on their team, and at least be more inclined to suspect each other if not Judd.
    • Instead: They decide that Garden must be The Mole because he is such a skilled puzzle solver, and because they think his accusations against Judd are just an attempt to deflect suspicion. He is removed from the team, Judd reveals that she was the real mole, and Chell and Hammond spend the rest of the episode foundering helplessly in their attempts to solve the remaining puzzles.

  • On the British version: "What 'O' is the generic name for any living animal or plant, including bacteria and viruses?" A contestant infamously answered "Orgasm." Contestant slumps over in embarrassment. note 
  • Another contestant on Blockbusters almost immediately realized her mistake when she answered "Yugoslavians" to "What 'U' were the Eastern Europeans who originated the tradition of painting Easter Eggs?"

    Body Language 

  • On the premiere, no less. The premise of BOOM! is to defuse a bomb by eliminating all the correct answers of a multiple choice question, leaving only the wrong answer. On a question about which three of the four street signs listed have the LEAST number of sides, the contestant quickly eliminated Speed Limit and One Way (four sides each). Left with Yield and School Crossing, he concludes that the Yield sign only has three... and clips the School Crossing wire.

    Bullseye (UK) 
  • When the first 180 was hit on Bullseye, the partner failed to answer relatively simple questions and blew the chance for big cash.
  • One team managed to win all nine prizes on the bonus board (the eight numbered prizes and Bully's Special Prize for the center target), which host Jim Bowen congratulated them on as it had never happened before. Despite this, they decided to go for the Star Prize...and lost a two-week vacation.
  • A contestant on the Challenge version thought every country had a sun.

    Cash Cab 
  • One particularly notable incident from the Canadian Cash Cab, with Adam Growe:
    Adam: What relative of the seal has external ears and can rotate its hind flippers?
    Contestant 1: (deliberating) Is it...penguin?
    Contestant 2: I think it might be sea lion...
    Contestant 3: Probably sea lion...
    Contestant 1: I dunno. Maybe penguins aren't really seals after all.
  • Also from the Canadian version, when shown the video bonus question at the end and asked to identify what this creature was:
    Contestant: Are those jellyfish?
  • Another one from the Canadian edition: two women answer that The Lion King was set in the Mojave Desert (which is in North America). It was only their first question, and they were kicked off two questions later.
  • On the American version, the one that made every Anime fan wince...or burst out laughing:
    Ben Bailey: An alternative to permanent tattoos, what plant dye, popular in India, is used for temporary body art?
    Contestant: I know this!
    Ben: You do?
    Contestant: Hentai!
    Ben: (Aside Glance Beat) The correct answer is "henna".

    Celebrity Name Game 
  • On two occasions, the contestant guessing has absolutely gone blank when the answer was the name of someone on stage with them. In the first case, it was host Craig Ferguson, and later on, celebrity guest Dave Foley (who all but hinted that he qualified under the category being played).
  • Once, in an attempt to convey "Kim Kardashian", the cluegiver said "She owned a lot of hotels," thinking of Paris Hilton. Neither Kardashian nor Hilton have anything to do with hotels.
  • Craig stated that this character was white, lived under the sea, and did not live in a pineapple.
    • You'd Expect: A contestant to realize that it was definitely not a SpongeBob SquarePants character. (It was Moby-Dick)
    • Instead: A contestant guessed "SpongeBob SquarePants" anyway.
  • The category was things that have appeared on the front page of Time, and the cluegiver said it was a band with a very short name. The contestant's guess? "Stone Temple Pilots" (it was actually The Who)
  • Trying to get Denzel Washington, "His last name is our nation's capital." "Sacramento?"
  • The category involved famous Toms and the word was "Tommy Pickles", so the cluegiver said something to the effect of "it's what pregnant women like to eat" (alluding to a superstition that pregnant women have cravings for pickles and ice cream). The contestant guessed "green onions".
  • The word was "Lance Bass"; the cluegiver managed to get her partner to figure out the last name, but when she used "Neil Armstrong" as a clue (trying to get her to relate to Lance Armstrong), she guessed "Neil Bass".
    • The contestants right after them didn't fare well either; firstly, a guesser accidentally said "Al Capone" when trying to guess Al Pacino, and then when Al Capone actually came up as the word a few moments later (theoretically allowing the use of a "you accidentally said this earlier" Lampshade Hanging as a clue), the cluegiver passed.
  • A cluegiver somehow confused Lisa Simpson with Jessica Simpson.
  • October 5, 2015: In a game shows category, the cluegiver gets their wires crossed with Let's Make a Deal-related clues twice, first saying "This is what Monty Hall would say" as a clue for "Come on down" (somehow the contestant still managed to guess correctly), and then saying that Deal or No Deal involves looking behind curtains.
  • In the final round, Craig all but exhausted his clues for "Maria Sharapova", so he did his "get ready, cause I'm just going to give out the answer", routine. He gives the answer, and the woman who buzzes in repeatedly mispronunces it ("Maria Shara-pose-a"), so the judges count it as incorrect. What makes this unforgivable is that Craig literally said it just a moment ago.
  • In the bonus round, in the dying seconds on the last name: "She was the first winner of American Idol!". "Uh, Kerry Washington?"

  • One rebus on Classic Concentration showed D+RACK+EWE+LA (the rack being of the type used by auto mechanics). Neither contestant could solve it after it was fully exposed, so host Alex Trebek started offering clues. When he said, "Bela Lugosi," the female contestant rang in and said, "Frankenstein."

    Double Dare 
  • 1987: "In 1869, what did O.A. North invent that forever changed the look of your closet? A. Moth Balls, B. Coat Hangers, C. The Boogey Man." Almost every multiple choice question asked on Double Dare (1986) has a joke answer for C, so the contestants can narrow it down to a 50/50 shot of answering it correctly.
    • You'd Expect: Since the question had been dared by the other team, either give the right answer of B or try to double dare it back.
    • Instead: The team answers with The Boogey Man, resulting in laughter from host Marc Summers. Because of the dare, the other team gets $20.
  • 1990 (Family): A question asking what the first James Bond film was. The team has just received this question back on a double dare.
    • You'd Expect: The physical challenge, perhaps a bold guess of Dr. No.
    • Instead: They answer with the wrong movie and mangle the title, Goldenfinger. The other team picks up $200 due to the blunder.
  • 1992: "Which of the following is missing on a Manx cat? A. Tail, B. Hair, C. Sense of Humor."
    • You'd Expect: A guess of Tail (the correct answer) or Hair, maybe daring it to the other team if they're not sure.
    • Instead: They answer with Sense of Humor. Cue Marc's deadpan response, "I just read 'em, folks. That's all I do."

    Ellen's Game of Games 
  • January 2, 2018: “When is Earth Day?” “September 11”.
  • January 2, 2018 (different episode from the above): In the Danger Word minigame (basically Password except with a "don't make your opponent say this word in particular" rule and gunge-based punishments), the contestants couldn't get "Football", even with such obvious clues as "Patriots", "Touchdown", and "Saints". One of the contestants also somehow guesses "baseball".
  • January 2, 2018: Yes, only a few segments later within the exact same episode, even more bungling occurs in "Don't Leave Me Hanging" (name things that match a category; wrong, duplicated, or no answer at all awards a strike and changes the category. Three strikes takes you out of the game literally).
    • States whose name end with the letter 'A'; a contestant guesses "Oregon" with an odd pronunciation that tried to make it sound like "Oregonia".
    • Cardio equipment Ellen has used; another contestant answers “jumping jacks”.
    • Active American car brands; the very first guess is "Honda", which is Japanese.
    • Daytime soap operas that have aired between the 1990's and now; a contestant guesses I Love Lucy (which is neither a soap opera or from the 1990's at all).
    • African countries; the very first guess is "Africa".
  • January 2, 2018: Here we go again. The winners of the four games played advance to "Know or Go", an elimination quiz that drops its losers through trap doors. The aforementioned "baseball" contestant from earlier is asked "If there's 12 inches in a foot and 3 feet in a yard, how many feet do you have?"
    • You'd Expect: The contestant to realize she is literally asking him how many feet he has (Ellen is fond of using Red Herring questions like this in games played on her daytime talk show, such as Know or Go, where the actual question is often only vaguely relevant to the first half of it).
    • Instead: The contestant overthinks it, talking out the question as "how many inches do you have?", and responding with "36 inches". When Ellen points out his flawed logic, he then answers with "3 feet".
  • January 9, 2018: “Name a person with 50 million Twitter followers.” “Facebook”.
  • January 9, 2018: “Which state is Flo Rida from?” “Georgia”.
  • January 23, 2018: Two gems from the same contestant.
    • “What does ‘WWW’ stand for?” “The Internet”.
    • “Which movie starred Sandra Bullock on a speeding bus?” “Trainwreck”.
  • February 6, 2018: One contestant offered these answers.
    • “Name a North American country.” “North Carolina”.
    • “Name a Shakespeare play.” “Alice In Wonderland”.
  • February 6, 2018: “Who are the Fab Four?” “The Fab Four”.

    Face The Music 
  • A 1980 episode of Face The Music had a tie game after a round. The two contestants (Dorothy, a 60-ish woman who stammers most of her answers and Michael, a young Asian-American man in his 20s) are shown pictures of Lawrence Welk, Catherine Bach, and Carroll O'Connor.
    • You'd Expect: Even on a game show where intelligence isn't a prerequisite, for one of them to at least recognize three well-known popular culture figures – the bandleader of a top-rated syndicated TV series, an actress from a show that was currently in the top 5 of the Nielsen ratings, and the star of probably the biggest show of the 1970s – bringing an end to the tiebreaker round after the first song.
    • Instead: A comedy of errors.
      • Dorothy rings in, spits out (after reciting most of the lyrics) "The Band Played On," which she matches with "Archie Bunker". (Her opponent, Michael, claps gleefully and hyperactively jumps up and down like a little kid when she gives the wrong answer. Correct answer: Lawrence Welk.)
      • Dorothy immediately identifies "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody". Even someone her age should be able to identify Catherine Bach, or give a reasonable guess, but all she can say, "The girl in the picture but I don't know her name." (Michael tries to ring in but is denied.)
      • With a correct guess of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall", Michael answers Archie Bunker. Unfortunately, the producers were looking for the actor's real name (which Dorothy gets right, but since she didn't ring in first, she wasn't credited with the answer).
    • With all three pictures exhausted, a new montage is shown: Andy Williams, Lindsay Wagner, and Telly Savalas. Again, You'd Expect: With three well-known celebrities, a hastened end of the round upon a quick correct answer:
    • Instead: More bungling:
      • After Michael easily identifies the Bee Gees' "More Than a Woman", he answers Cheryl Ladd. Host Ron Ely is in disbelief: "I don't believe this!" as the audience is beside itself in laughter. (Correct answer: Lindsay Wagner.)
      • After Dorothy spits out reasonable guesses (half of them incoherent) before saying "Zorba the Greek", she finally gives a correct match: Telly Savalas.

    Family Challenge 
  • One segment on Family Challenge has the host asking how much family members know each other, a la The Newlywed Game. Ray Combs asks the mothers for their daughters' favorite classical musician.
    • You'd Expect: A musician from said era, such as Mozart, Bach, etc. Or, as the blue team's mother predicted, Beethoven.
    • Instead: The daughter on the blue team answers Diana Ross, prompting a Double Take and an expression that amounts to a Big "WHAT?!" from the mother.
    • Then: Combs poses the same question to the red team and they match with Kenny G!

    Fear Factor 
  • In a Best Friends episode, the first stunt involved one partner being locked in a submerged safe and passing handles to their partner who will screw them to to a wheel to open the door. The last team is on pace to beat the fastest time (90 seconds) but the woman outside the box is having trouble screwing the handle in.
    • You'd Expect: She'd try to screw the handle in the other way seeing as all they had to do was beat the slowest time, which was nearly 7 and a half minutes, to move on and trying that would take a few seconds
    • Instead: She spends well over 5 minutes screwing the handle the wrong direction and gets her and her best friend eliminated.

  • Go may have run for just 79 episodes (October 3, 1983 to January 20, 1984), but it still managed to produce some moments:
    • Week of October 10: the clock gets to 99 seconds, stopping gameplay right then. Given that this followed six straight wrong answers, this may have been a good thing.
    • Week of November 7: during a week that had the cast of Days of Our Lives competing against Another World, the clock stops at 99 seconds again.
      • From that round: "What" "color" "is" "Leann's" "hair?" (ding!) "Yellow!"
    • "What" "moos?" (ding!) "A car!"

  • March 3, 2000: The $25,000-question of the third game is as follows: "Which show did NOT feature Chuck Woolery as a regular host?" The choices are: Love Connection, Scrabble, Wheel of Fortune, and Singled Out.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant in control, Dennis, to lock in with Singled Out, and then the captain, Darrell, will accept the answer. At the very worst, Dennis will give another answer if he's unsure and Darrell will overrule him with the correct answer.
    • Instead: Dennis, boasting that he has followed Chuck's career, answers Wheel of Fortune...and Darrell accepts it! Woolery gleefully rips them a new one when they get the question wrong, preventing the other three teammates from ever participating in the game; this is the only time on Greed where someone got the first question in the game wrong.

    The Joker's Wild 
  • "The Mesozoic Age had the dinosaur as its dominant form of life. What classification of animals are dinosaurs?" The correct response was "reptiles", but the contestant overthought her answer.
    Contestant: Ooh, I know that. Uh... (timer buzzes; Jack asks her for an answer) Plistosisterines.
    Jack Barry: ...What was that?
    Contestant: Pliss...pliss... P-L-E-I-O-C-E-T-E-N-E-S-O-U-S.
    Jack Barry: (looking at his card as the audience howls with laughter) Uh, I don't have that answer down here...
  • From the final syndicated season: In this situation, a lady named Chris has won four games, and is currently in her fifth match leading her challenger, a guy whose name is also Chris, $400-$100. The categories are Disney, Famous Lovers, U.S. Constitution, Explorers, and Bid-Numbersnote . It is Lady Chris' spin, and she rolls JOKER—Lovers—Constitution.
    • You'd Expect: Lady Chris to pair either Lovers or Constitution with the Joker for $100, or go off the board and pick Bid-Numbers for $50 and bid anywhere from two to seven for a possible win (and prevent Guy Chris from beating her if she missed it).
    • Instead: Lady Chris goes off the board and picks Disney for $50, misses the question, and Guy Chris gets it right, bringing his score to $150.
    • Later: Guy Chris spins Disney—Explorers—Disney, picked Disney for $100, got it right, and brought his score to $250. Lady Chris then spins Bid-Numbers—Bid Numbers—Joker.
    • You'd Then Expect: Lady Chris to take Bid-Numbers for just $100 and bid the minimum of two questions. If she had missed and Guy Chris completed the contract, Guy Chris's score would have only been $450.
    • Instead: Lady Chris does take Bid-Numbers for just $100 (she first said $100, then $200, but the Judge immediately jumped in, stating that they had to take her first pick of $100), and she does get the first two questions right...but she had bid for three questions. She misses the last one, and Guy Chris gets the question right, winning the game with $550.
    • What Makes it Worse: Lady Chris was playing for a car.note 

    Legends Of The Hidden Temple 
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple has had its share of bad player choices, the most egregious examples being in the climactic Temple run. In this series of rooms, the players are met with various challenges such as assembling a 3-piece statue, pressing an actuator, or finding a hidden key to move on to the next room, and three random rooms have Temple Guards that take away their pendant of life or remove them from the temple. Once a contestant reaches the episodes' Artifact, all the doors are unlocked and the guards vanish.
    You'd Expect: Once a player manages to reach the artifact, they would blaze through the now-empty rooms to make it back to the entrance and beat the time limit.
    Instead: One contestant forgets that the doors unlock when he grabs the artifact, and drops the artifact to smash clay pots to find the key to open a door that's already open. He makes it to the temple steps, then realizes he left the artifact in the King's Storeroom. That team didn't get to go to Mexico.
    • The Shrine of the Silver Monkey claimed a lot of players via running out the clock.
      You'd Expect: it to be an easy challenge. Three pieces of a statue that stack on one another that face the camera. Base, Torso, Head.
      Instead: You wind up with these strange aberrations. Kids trying to stack the base on the torso, putting the torso on backwards, upside-down, or sideways, the head being put on through the side of the torso, all sorts of strange things.

    Lucky Ladders 
Note: Lucky Ladders was the British version of the American game show Chain Reaction that ran from 1988 to 1993.
  • 24 April 1991: We are at the third ladder, and the champion team of Prunella & Rebecca are leading the challenging team of Lyn & Pamela 170 to 70, needing one more word to win the game. At the point, the Lucky Ladder is KID-GLOVE-BOXING-?-?-?-BOY. Prunella takes a letter under BOXING for her teammate, with the letter "D" popping up.
    • You'd Expect: Rebecca to say "DAY" to win the match, as Boxing Day is a famous holiday in Britain.
    • Instead: Rebecca says nothing.
    • Then: Lyn takes a letter under BOXING for his teammate, with the letter "A" popping up.
    • You'd Then Expect: Pamela to say "DAY" to stay in the match.
    • Instead: Pamela says "DANGER" after the buzzer.
    • Next: Prunella then asks for a letter for her partner under BOXING, with host Lennie Bennett stating that he can't give her a letter, as it would complete the word.
    • You'd Then Expect: For Rebecca to say "DAY" and win the match.
    • Instead: Rebecca says "DAD". Lyn then asks for a letter under "BOXING", and Lennie says that he can't give a letter under "BOXING".
    • You'd THEN Expect: For Pamela to say "DAY".
    • INSTEAD: Pamela says "DAP". Prunella then asks for a letter under "BOXING", Lennie can't give her the letter.
    • You'd THEN Expect: Rebecca to say "DAY".
    • INSTEAD: No answer, which is starting to drive Lennie crazy. Lyn then asks for a letter under "BOXING", and Lennie again says that he can't give him the letter.
    • You'd NOW Expect: Pamela to say "DAY".
    • INSTEAD: Pamela says "DAN". Prunella then asks for a letter under "BOXING", and Lennie reminds her that he can't, as it would complete the word.
    • You'd NOW Expect: For Rebecca to say "DAY".
    • INSTEAD: Rebecca again blanks out. Then before Lyn can say anything, Lennie immediately jumps in and says that he can't have the letter, assuming that he wanted a letter under "BOXING".
    • FINALLY: Pamela says "DAY", giving her team 100 points.

    Name That Tune 
  • Late 1984: One particularly egregious instance on Name That Tune was during a semifinals episode, during the Golden Medley Showdown between Tammy (Warner, a well-known member of the online game show community) and Les. Things went back and forth repeatedly, until Les buzzed in for one song and said every single lyric except the actual name of the song. The judges gave him the point anyway.
    • The mistake was never realized, Les won, and in the finals he won $100,000...all because he was given credit for something he never actually said. Oh, and he was an annoying Jerkass the whole time.
  • In one of the first episodes of revived Russian version of the show, Anfisa Chekhova failed to recognize the theme tune of the show despite claiming she was a huge fan.

    Nick Arcade 
  • For a game show that featured video games, the kids here couldn't play to save their lives. Seriously, who messes up trying to get 10-20 rings on Sonic the Hedgehog in 30 seconds or less?
  • A question of "How much does an ounce of gold weigh?"
    Contestant: 14 ounces.
  • Fifteen minutes of idiocy.

  • In general, giving the password as a clue is not a smart move and has the tendency to earn the offender a good deal of derision.
  • 1973: On the ABC version, a contestant couldn't get "Plus" in the lightning round even with Jack Klugman repeating "Minus" and "Opposite" to her.
  • August 1, 1985 (Super Password): One for the judges and the host instead of the contestants. At the end of a bonus round being played for $20,000, the contestant says the tenth and final word, "Inn", clearly after the buzzer.
    • You'd Expect: That if the judges were to check the tape, they'd declare it a loss and award the contestant $900 for getting nine of the ten words. Furthermore, the contestant's a Sore Loser, screaming and calling out the judges after host Bert Convy initially says he heard the answer after the buzzer.
    • Instead: After a commercial break, the judges decide to let Bert see the tape and declare for himself.
      • You'd Then Expect: That after seeing the result a second time, Bert would affirm that the buzzer beat her by a mile. Also, given that everyone had more or less calmed down, a second look would be beneficial.
      • Instead: He says "Close enough, I say yes!" The contestant wins and doesn't even thank Bert for making it possible.

    Press Your Luck / Whammy! 
  • September 19, 1983: On the very first episode of Press Your Luck, a contestant named Lana answered a question that was essentially "What model of car is the most frequently stolen?" with "Chevrolet" and "Mercedes". While these types of incidents aren't too common (a similar confusion between brands and types of gasoline happened at least twice on Family Feud), the unsure look on her face is what sealed the deal.
  • "What was the magical item that brought Frosty the Snowman to life?" "Corncob pipe."
  • Anyone that passes their spins from third place in the second round, especially when neither of their opponents have spins to take. Doing so is tantamount to forfeiting the game.
  • On both Press Your Luck and the sequel series Whammy, buzzing in on a question before the full question is read is usually quiz suicide, as at least two contestants on both versions, including superchamp Michael Larson, had to answer right away before the last part of the question made their answers obviously wrong. For Larson, one of his questions was, "You're probably got President Franklin D. Roosevelt in your pocket or purse right now, because his likeness is on the headside—" (Larson buzzes in) *Larson* "$50 dollar bill". (Peter continues) "—on what American coin?" *Larson cringes and folds over* note  For the latter series, one contestant buzzed in early on a Chuck Barris question, gave his name on an answer, and then heard his name in the question before the question asked what agency he claimed to work for in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, prompting laughter from the audience when Barris's name (now obviously wrong) showed up as one of the answers for the multiple choices alongside the correct answer, the CIA.
  • On Whammy, one question asked: "What type of vehicles are used in the legendary Tour De France?" Instead of providing the correct answer of bicycles, the buzzing in contestant answered, "SUVs".
  • The producers weren't immune to this, either:
    • The Michael Larson fiasco. Apparently, nobody on the show staff (minus creator Bill Carruthers) or at CBS realized that the Big Board was predictable, even though Larson did just by taping and analyzing the show. And he wasn't alone: other contestants scheduled to appear after him had figured out the same thing and were planning the same stunt.
    • It's not as well remembered, but the show also had an embarrassing moment over this toss-up question: "Which well known cartoon character is known for saying 'Sufferin' Succotash'?" All three contestants correctly named Sylvester, but Peter Tomarken snidely said the answer was Daffy Duck, even as the audience booed. The show later did a funny Take That Me in which Voice Actor Mel Blanc made a phone call to Tomarken to correct him on the matter...as Sylvester. All three contestants were given the chance to appear on later episodes. Watch it all here.

    Sale Of the Century 
  • A 1986 daytime episode had a Fame Game where the contestants were read the following question: "I am an herb with a high carbohydrate content. I grow on a plant that can reach a height of 30 feet. I am now chiefly grown in Latin America for the vast North American market. I am usually picked green so when I reach my consumer, I will be ripe and yellow. People in the U.S. consume about 11 billion of me annually, some of which is split and goes into a sundae served with ice cream, fruits and whipped cream. Monkeys love me. I am ... " followed by a buzzer. Not one contestant rang in, and host Jim Perry asks, "Audience the buzzer hit, and is it possible that any of you know the answer?" Every member of the audience shouts out the answer: a banana! Perry did acknowledge that the early clues of the questionnote  (such that the banana was an herb) may have threw the contestants off, but the latter clues (those pertaining to its ripened yellow state, cut for use in sundaes and consumption by monkeys), not to mention none of the contestants even making a move for the buzzer and one of them saying in disbelief "A banana?" after Perry confirms the answer, makes this entry a slam dunk. Listen here to the entire show, including the Fame Game in question.
  • November 1988: During "True Romance Week," the contestant, Raymond plays the Winner's Big Money Game for $5,000 note ; the bonus round begins at around 19:55:
    • Question: "Sitcom features Jennifer, Mallory, Alex Keaton."
      • You'd expect: The contestant to ring in after third, perhaps the fourth to be sure, word appears to identify the sitcom Family Ties, a still-highly rated and prominent part of the NBC prime-time schedule.
      • Instead: Raymond has to be prompted to hit the plunger, then draws a blank and says "pass." Perry suspects that the Raymond had never watched the show and comments as such.
    • Next question: "Future president Stephen Douglas debated with."
      • You'd expect: A ring-in after no more than the fourth word to easily identify Abraham Lincoln.
      • Instead: Raymond again is late in stopping the clock, and then blurts out "Quayle" (as in then-vice presidential candidate (at the time of taping) Dan Quayle); the audience simply murmurs on the incorrect answer, and Perry — keeping it classy, perhaps knowing the end result to come — moves on to the final question. With only 5 seconds left, time runs out without an attempt to answer a question leading to the identity of Amy Irving's director husband (Steven Spielburg).
  • When asked who one would call if there were something strange in your neighborhood, a contestant responded with "Mr. Rogers".

  • Early 1985: The most memorable example on Scrabble came on an episode during the short-lived "spelling" formatnote . An incident that has been shown repeatedly on game show-related and Dick Clark bloopers specials (and probably the reason for why the format was changed back) had "M_SQU____" showing along with the clue "They love to fly over nudist camps."
    • You'd Expect: With the female contestant (Von?) possibly unsure how to spell "MOSQUITOS", for her to continue selecting tiles/letters to fill in the blanks.
    • Instead: A chain of at least four incorrect answers, beginning with Von saying "U" as her first guess.
    • You'd Then Expect: The opponent, Chris, to pick a tile and continue filling in the blanks to make sure he can correctly spell the word.
    • Instead: He immediately rings in and says he knows the solution, says "I", and is buzzed.
    • Later: Von draws a tile, which turns up to be an "I", then fills in a remaining blank with the other "S" to get M_SQU___S.
    • You'd Then Expect: If she was unsure of the word, Von could put in the "I".
    • Instead: She goes for the solve, saying "A". The buzzer sounds, and at this point the audience is beginning to laugh. Host Chuck Woolery: "I've never had this happen before. (beat) This is the first time."
    • Immediately Thereafter: Chris rings in and finally fills in the "O" in the second blank, and I and T in order to get MOSQUIT_S...then says "E". Woolery is dumbfounded as the audience is now in hysterics. "I'm going home! I don't know about you." The word went unsolved.
  • The Scrabble Sprint Round has also had its share of bad performances:
    • In August 1984, John set the record for most time spent in the Sprint round, 62.9 seconds...and won thanks to current champ Lysa blowing it. note  You have to see it to believe it. For several weeks thereafter, Woolery would try to encourage a contestant who had done poorly in his/her half of the Sprint Round by referring to John's poor performance still ending in a win.
    • Sang, the record holder for most time spent in the Sprint round, about 87 seconds, in part due to overeager buzzing in and blowing one word with only one letter missing. His opponent bombed on at least two of the same words.

    The Wall 

    The Whole 19 Yards 
  • On Sufoco, a Brazilian version of The Whole 19 Yards played on the Sunday-night variety show Domingão do Faustão (where players are slowly given clues towards a subject, but in order to make a guess, they must reach a buzzer at the end of an obstacle course. Thus, leaving early gives you fewer clues, but a better chance of being the first to make a guess), the clues towards a particular subject were that it was a European country, that they had invaded Brazil in the past, they are the land of flowers and windmills, they eliminated Brazil during the the last (2010) FIFA World Cup, they had lost to Spain in the final of said World Cup, and that their language was Dutch.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to realize that, even if the first two clues aren't specific enough for one to guess anything, the third clue is clearly talking about the Netherlands, with every clue following it further reinforcing the idea.
    • Instead: THIS happened:
    1. No one leaves at the third clue.
    2. The first player leaves at the fourth clue and guesses Spain.
    3. The second player leaves at the fifth clue and guesses France. Explanation 
    4. The third and last player leaves at the sixth clue and guesses Italy. Cue a dumbfounded stare from Faustão.
    • Even Worse: The last player had literally no excuse for getting it wrong, since she left with the sixth clue (and Faustão even repeats the clues to the players before they give the answer). Unlike in English, where the words "Netherlands" and "Dutch" are very different, in Portuguese, "Holanda" and "Holandês" are basically equal. Not getting it is roughly equivalent to not knowing what country speaks Japanese.

  • A contestant is asked to name a prime number between 20 and 40.
    • You'd Expect: One of the four possible answers: 23, 29, 31 or 37.
    • Instead: The contestant answers "seven" (7).

    Who's Still Standing? 
  • One particularly egregious example on Who's Still Standing? was a contestant who couldn't guess that the last month alphabetically was September (even with __P_E_B__ showing) and refused to rattle off the months, only getting it with .2 seconds left. He then failed to guess that Tony the Tiger was Frosted Flakes' mascot, and was gone.
  • One contestant didn't know that the topic of Al Gore's book An Inconvenient Truth was "Global Warming", even after most of the letters were revealed.