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What An Idiot: Wheel of Fortune
Idiotic answers aren't all that rare on game shows. Wheel of Fortune has aired five days a week since January 6, 1975 (as two different versions from 1983-91 and 1997-98), so it has amassed quite a few. When you're on, you may have a lot of money on the line already, and you may also feel destined to make it to the end for the grand prize. An incomplete puzzle stands in your way, or you rely on a lucky spin of the Wheel itself...possibly both. Somebody is bound to reach their limit and wind up right here.

Note: As with the other Game Show pages in What an Idiot, some of the following contestants may very well have given these stupid answers on purpose, while others earnestly are stumped or give an obviously incorrect answer on what many viewers would think is an easy question. More than once, host Pat Sajak — especially when nearly the entire puzzle is showing and it goes unsolved or the contestant calls a wrong letter — has told the audience 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 just say the wrong answer {if they provide a guess at all} or crack under pressure. That doesn't make them any less stupid, mind you, but instead become far more worthy of being here.
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    In General... 
  • Spin, buy a vowel, or solve...but you only have 5 seconds, so do not get buzzed out.
  • Pretty much any time a contestant makes it clear they do not know the answer to any puzzle even with enough letters revealed.
  • On a few rare occasions, the puzzle was entirely filled in but incorrectly solved:
    • SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS on the daytime version when Rolf Benirschke hosted.
    • Subverted by DESE DEM AND DOSE GUYS on October 17, 1989. The contestant read off the first word as "Desi" instead of a thickly-accented "These". Pat asked for a ruling, and then said, "Listen, he's got all the letters up, I'm taking it."
    • A Megaword of PRISTINELY on December 16, 1994 (mispronounced as "prist-a-nell-y").
    • FRANCIS FORD AND SOFIA COPPOLA on January 2, 2004 (COPPOLA was read "cu-POH-la").
    • A Clue puzzle of OVERHAND SQUARE & SHEEPSHANK ARE TYPES on April 1, 2004 (SHEEPSHANK was read "sheep's hank").
    • REGIS PHILBIN & KELLY RIPA on January 4, 2010, is listed further below.
    • MYTHOLOGICAL HERO ACHILLES on April 11, 2014 (ACHILLES was read "Ay-chill-us").
  • Season 12 (1994-95): One for the producers: The Megaword category. It consisted of a vocabulary word ranging from eight to thirteen letters in length and if solved, the contestant had to use it in a sentence for a $500-bonus. Pat eventually grew to detest the category on the air and lampshaded its usage numerous times. Every time the category was featured, the pace screeched to a grinding halt with numerous turns lost due to wrong letter calls.
    • As mentioned above, one contestant missolved a completely revealed Megaword, PRISTINELY, by mispronouncing it.
    • Some contestants had no idea of the context of certain words, leading to sentences such as "Being on Wheel of Fortune is a BOMBASTIC experience."
  • Calling the same letter twice in the same puzzle will make you lose your turn, which is the reason why there's a Used Letter Board offscreen to help contestants.
    • You'd Expect: Maybe one accidental repeated letter every now and then. This happens often enough that a contestant shouldn't kick himself for doing it. Furthermore, if the repeat happens on Free Play, the contestant can at least confide in keeping the turn.
    • Instead: During the week of May 13, 2002, a College Week episode, three repeated letters were called in one round, with the contestants apparently failing to realize the rule that's been in place since the show's very beginning.
  • Whenever a Toss-Up goes unsolved, at least one contestant has made a mistake that would end up on this page.
    • A bizarre exception was the first Toss-Up on September 19, 2008. FINE WINE, under the category Rhyme Time, had the W as the last remaining letter that had not been revealed (the answer could have easily been FINE LINE among other things).
  • If the category is Before & After (two phrases joined by a word that ends the first phrase and starts the second), remember the "After" segment!
  • Knowing the answer to a puzzle but calling only one letter that appears less frequently than another remaining letter. This is generally in hindsight only, save for what may be the clearest example possible (starting at about 0:40).
  • During the Mystery Round, any time someone has most of the puzzle revealed and calls a correct letter on a Mystery Wedge. Said contestant already has an insurmountable lead with one or more of the following: one or both Car tags, the Million Dollar Wedge, the Wheel Prize and the Wild Card with the Prize Puzzle (from 2003-2011) at stake.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant to just take the consonants that were called at $1,000 a pop and forget about flipping the wedge, lest they risk losing it all to Bankrupt. It's not worth the gamble.
    • Instead: A handful of contestants have chosen to flip the wedge only to find the Bankrupt on the other side.
    • Subverted: If someone is behind by a wide margin and the $10,000 on the other side would put the contestant within striking distance of the leader (even while possessing the Million Dollar Wedge, in which case it would be acceptable to go for it).
  • Using the Wild Card to call a second consonant on a relatively low dollar amount. On December 26, 2013, a contestant did this on $500 and wound up going to the Bonus Round where the Wild Card could have been much more beneficial.
    • If that wasn't bad enough, someone on January 6, 2014 used the Wild Card on $450.
    • Another contestant on January 19, 2007 used it on $400.
  • Using Free Play to call a vowel you know is in the puzzle when you do not know the answer, generally indicated by a wrong letter at any point afterwards. Somewhat excusable if you cannot afford a vowel at that time, or subverted if you figure out the answer from that.
  • During the Speed-Up, any contestant who tries to solve without calling a letter first. In this case, the three-second time limit starts immediately after the first guess and contestants are not allowed to call a letter after trying to solve. Furthermore, with consonants worth at least $1,300 apiece, you'd be leaving money on the table. Subverted if only vowels remain since they're worth no money.
  • RSTLNE has been given for free in the Bonus around since 1988. While it isn't uncommon for some contestants to accidentally call one of those letters, this didn't stop one contestant on February 18, 2004 from trying to call four of them, each time being told that they're "part of the original package". Even worse, one of the letters she picked was already on the board.

    Invoked 
Explanation: Some mistakes have been acknowledged on-air either during or after the original airing.

  • June 7, 1976: The puzzle board is showing K_LL THE _MP_RE, and Chuck has informed the contestants that only vowels remain.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant in control to solve KILL THE UMPIRE, or buy the U or I's if he's not certain.
    • Instead: He says KILL THE VAMPIRE. The next player, Linda, solves immediately for $925. Chuck then comments that this isn't the first time she made money off another's mistakes.
  • December 1981: During Pat Sajak's first week as host, A_RAHAM _INCO_N is revealed.
    • You'd Expect: ABRAHAM LINCOLN, maybe a spin for the L's.
    • Instead: ABRAHAM BINCOLN. Pat joked that Bincoln would be the guy who delivered the Bettysburg address, although he admitted years later that making the joke probably didn't help the poor contestant.
  • Vanna's favorite, date unknown: The answer is MORE FUN THAN A BARREL OF MONKEYS.
    • You'd Expect: That exact answer.
    • Instead: MORE FUN THAN A BARREL OF VIKINGS.
  • Early 1984 (nighttime): The puzzle board reads THE EAR__ __R_ _AT_HES THE W_RM.
    • You'd Expect: THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM, or maybe one more spin to claim the C's.
    • Instead: THE EARTH BIRD CATCHES THE WORM. This moment was aired as part of a promo in August 1984.
  • Another one of Pat's favorites, most likely Season 5 (1987-88): The puzzle board reads ST_R_F__M ___.
    • You'd Expect: STYROFOAM CUP, or letting time expire since it's still fairly early and the player's opponents likely won't know the answer.
    • Instead: STYROFOAM HAT.
  • Fall 1988 (nighttime, between October 11 and December 16): During Round 3, the puzzle board reads WHICH __D WITCH THE WICKED WITCH.
    1. Red contestant almost gets buzzed out, and calls a B.
    2. Yellow contestant spins $3,500, but calls an R.
    3. Blue contestant tries to buy a vowel but has no money. She spins and calls an M.
    4. Red contestant buys a repeated A (Pat: "Kind of a wacky game we have going here."), then turns in her Free Spin. She spins $3,500, but calls a G.
    5. Yellow contestant spins and hits Bankrupt.
    6. Blue contestant spins $3,500. Pat shouts for a letter, and she calls the L and solves. Pat compares the round to a root canal.
  • October 30, 1989: The category is Thing, the the board currently says _AR_EC_E S_IT.
    • You'd Expect: BARBECUE SPIT, perhaps calling the B first.
    • Instead: The contestant calls an H, and Pat later remarks that Wheel is a family show.
  • February 26, 1993: During a Speed-Up round, the category is Slang.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to solve BUTTINSKY with no trouble.
    • Instead: Nine, count 'em, nine screw-ups.
    1. Yellow contestant (Gordon) calls the K, revealing B_TT_NSK_. He says "button-sky" then "button-ski".
    2. Blue contestant (Larry) calls the Y, says "button-sky" also.
    3. Red contestant (Greg), told that only vowels are left, says "but-TIN-sky". Pat asks the producer if they'll take it, and she says no. He then says "buttansky" twice.
    4. Gordon calls the I, says "battinsky". Pat: "It's like the Warsaw phone book we're doing here!"
    5. Larry declines to call a letter since he doesn't know the missing vowel(?!), and guesses "boo-tinsky".
    6. Greg calls an A.
    7. Gordon hesitates and ultimately says "bettinsky".
    8. Pat prompts Larry to call a vowel. He calls an E, after which Pat suggests that he shouldn't.
    9. Greg calls the U and, with the whole puzzle now filled in, mispronounces it "but-TIN-sky" again. Luckily, he redeems himself with the correct pronunciation immediately afterward, and Pat is clearly relieved that the round is over.
  • February 21, 1995 (Some of the Greats Week): There is a Speed-Up under the category Phrase.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to solve LET HIM STEW IN HIS OWN JUICE with enough confidence.
    • Instead: This.
    1. Red contestant calls the H's and with __T H__ ST__ _N H_S __N _____ showing, guesses PUT HER STUFF IN HIS DARN THING. Pat: "Oh! So close!"
    2. Yellow contestant calls an R.
    3. Blue contestant calls the W's and has no guess.
    4. Red contestant calls the O, says NOT but "corrects" it to PUT HOT STEW IN HIS OWN before getting buzzed out. Pat: "These fantasies you have..."
    5. Yellow contestant calls the L, says LET HIM STEW ON HIS OWN MONEY.
    6. Blue contestant calls the M and has no guess.
    7. Finally, the red contestant calls the J and solves. Pat, of course, delays until announcing he's right.
  • March 2, 1995: The puzzle board reads _OD O_ THE SE_ OR PL_NET, the category is Clue.
    • You'd Expect: GOD OF THE SEA OR PLANET, followed by an answer of Neptune for the Clue.
    • Instead: GOD OF THE SEX OR PLANET. Pat quips, "That's a lovely thought."
  • March 21, 1997: The puzzle MIKE CONNORS AS MANNI_, categorized as Classic TV.
    • You'd Expect: MIKE CONNORS AS MANNIX, maybe a risky spin for the X.
    • Instead: One contestant calls a repeated B, and the next calls an F. After the puzzle is solved, Pat addresses the plenty of Mannix fans out there.
  • November 11, 1999: The puzzle answer is A GROUP OF WELL-WISHERS.
    • You'd Expect: A fairly normal Speed-Up round, maybe one that takes a little while since this isn't a common phrase.
    • Instead: Hoo boy.
      • The blue contestant (Joe) calls a B only two turns after someone else does, then exclaims "Oh, Jesus!" when he realizes his mistake.
      • A few turns later, he calls a P, revealing _ _R__P __ __LL-__SH_RS. He guesses A GROUP OF PILL-PUSHERS, prompting a What the Hell, Player? response from Pat while the audience erupts with laughter.
      • Awhile later, _ GR__P _F W_LL-W_SH_RS is revealed. The red contestant says A GROUP OF WILL-WISHES.
      • Finally, after Pat tells the yellow contestant only vowels are left, she solves for $8,000.
  • Fall 2001: In the Bonus Round, __MIDIT_ is revealed.
    • You'd Expect: At least 10 seconds of trying to solve, maybe the right answer of HUMIDITY.
    • Instead: 10 seconds of non-word guesses like HUMDITTY and other gibberish words ending in -DITTY. After time runs out, the correct answer of HUMIDITY is revealed and the contestant asks "Didn't I say 'HUMDITTY'?"...to which Pat replies "Yes, but the answer was 'HUMIDITY'."
  • February 4, 2002: A Toss-Up of _IN_ERS & _OES.
  • April 11, 2002: A Toss-Up of AN ___Y CHILD.
    • You'd Expect: AN ONLY CHILD.
    • Instead: AN UGLY CHILD. Pat then rebukes the contestant by pointing out that "Now, you are a school counselor..."
  • Season 20 (2002-03): Aired during the cemeronial 4,000th episode. A Toss-Up reads SLE_PING _____Y.
    • You'd Expect: SLEEPING BEAUTY.
    • Instead: SLEEPING DOPEY.
  • March 15, 2004: A Clue puzzle reads A ROMAN _OD OR THE PLANET NEAREST THE SUN.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant to figure out GOD as the third word right away, and then offer Mercury as the answer to the very easy Clue. Even if she doesn't know her ancient gods, the second half of the Clue is elementary school stuff.
    • Instead: She nearly draws a blank before pulling the word GOD out of thin air. After that, she says Pluto for the Clue and just when Pat is about to tell her the answer, she interrupts him with a guess of The Moon and then Mars. Pat lets her continue, and she guesses Saturn before finally giving the right answer Mercury. He reminds everyone that she doesn't get anything for that, however.
  • May 18, 2006: A Prize Puzzle with E_CLUSI_E NIGHTCLUB revealed.
    • You'd Expect: EXCLUSIVE NIGHTCLUB, maybe a call of X and/or V just to be sure.
    • Instead: Contestant calls a K. Cue an icy glare from Pat before the next player solves.
  • December 15, 2008: A $3,000 Toss-Up puzzle, _ISH L___ is shown.
    • You'd Expect: Guessing WISH LIST at some point.
    • Instead: A contestant guesses FISH LOVE.
    • To Be Fair: The contestant responsible for that flub managed to redeem himself to the point of winning the Bonus Round, after which they put FISH LOVE on the board.
  • May 28, 2009: _I_ING AM_NG E__TI_ PLANTS AND ANIMALS is revealed. It's a Prize Puzzle.
    • You'd Expect: HIKING AMONG EXOTIC PLANTS AND ANIMALS.
    • Instead: Look out.
    1. Having just gotten a Free Spin, the red contestant guesses LIVING AMONG EXOTIC PLANTS AND ANIMALS.
    2. He turns in the Free Spin to call the X, but after buying the O he hits Lose A Turn.
    3. Yellow player spins for the C, then hits Bankrupt.
    4. Blue player spins and hits Lose A Turn.
    5. Back to the red player, who makes another wrong guess of RIDING AMONG EXOTIC PLANTS AND ANIMALS.
    6. Back to the yellow player, who hits Bankrupt again. Pat: "Good night, everyone!"
    7. The blue player hits the Million-Dollar Wedge and calls the H.
    8. With HI_ING AMONG EXOTIC PLANTS AND ANIMALS showing, the blue player guesses...W.
    9. Finally, the red contestant takes a wild guess on what turns out to be the right answer. Afterwards, Pat jokes that this was an undeserved win.
  • January 4, 2010: The puzzle REGIS PHILBIN & KELLY RIPA.
    • You'd Expect: That even three military servicemen, who maybe don't get to watch TV that much while on active duty, would still recognize two people who have long since become household names.
    • Instead: This.
    1. With REG_S P__L__N & _ELL_ R_P_ revealed, the yellow player says REGIS PHILBRIN & KELLY RIPA. Pat says they can't accept it.
    2. Blue player calls the Y, then hits Bankrupt.
    3. Red player buys the I and A, then guesses REGIS PHILMIN & KELLY RIPA, pronouncing "Ripa" as "Ree-pa". It's also ruled incorrect.
    4. Yellow player gets a chance to redeem himself, but also says REGIS PHILMIN & KELLY RIPA.
    5. Blue player calls H, B, and K to fill in the puzzle entirely...but still manages to screw up the completely-revealed puzzle by pronouncing "Ripa" with a long I sound.
    6. Back to the red player again, who finally says their names properly. Cue Pat snarking that the clip of this round will get played a lot, then jokingly suggesting that Regis should step down.
  • February 14, 2011: On a Teen Best Friends Week episode, a Speed-Up with consonants worth $6,000 each has an Occupation of A_ATE_R ASTR____ER. With $18,000, a member of the yellow team starts to say the correct answer of AMATEUR ASTRONOMER just before the buzzer.
    • You'd Expect: That she seamlessly finishes her answer, as answers finished after the buzzer do count as long as they are started before it, a rule that Pat has stated on-camera many times before.
    • Instead: She stops speaking upon hearing the buzzer. Pat makes an expression as if to say "You completely blew it" as the team whines "But...but...". The blue team calls the M's and solves.
    • What Makes It Worse: Before this round, the final totals were $6,000/$17,150/$2,000. The yellow team was still well-ahead and the blue team was dead last...until they solve for $18,000 after the above blunder, overtaking the yellow team by less than $3,000.
  • May 10, 2012: The puzzle board displays CA_IBBEA_ _UEE_ BY BI__Y OCEA_ (Song/Artist). The contestant lands on Free Play, and Pat explains that she can attempt to solve the puzzle without getting penalized for an incorrect answer.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant to pick the N's and solve the puzzle CARIBBEAN QUEEN BY BILLY OCEAN.
    • Instead: She just tries to solve, and says CARIBBEAN QUEEN BY BIFFY OCEAN. Pat just shouts "No!" but reminds her she is still on Free Play.
  • January 10, 2013: A contestant has the Song/Artist puzzle I _A__ THE _INE BY J_HNNY _A_H and has just landed on the Jackpot wedge.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant to recognize the iconic song I WALK THE LINE BY JOHNNY CASH.
    • Instead: She guesses I HAVE THE WINE BY JOHNNY CASH. Jeopardy! would reference this just over a year later with "I Have The Wine" and "By Johnny Cash" categories.
  • January 22, 2013: A Speed-Up puzzle of FASHION STATEMENT.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to recognize that exact answer at some point.
    • Instead: The following errors.
    1. Yellow contestant calls the M and with __S_I_N S____M_N_ revealed, he guesses CHASING SOMEONE.
    2. Blue contestant calls the T's and has no guess.
    3. Red contestant calls the A's and guesses MAGIC STATEMENT and BASIC STATEMENT, the latter coming after the buzzer.
    4. Yellow contestant calls the E and has no guess.
    5. Blue contestant calls a D.
    6. Three more wrong letters are edited out, after which Pat is clearly annoyed.
    7. Finally, the red contestant calls the H and solves.
  • January 25, 2013: A contestant has landed on the Jackpot wedge with GO TO THE F_O_T OF THE ___E revealed under the category of Phrase.
    • You'd Expect: Solving GO TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE right away.
    • Instead: GO TO THE FRONT OF THE CAVE. Pat doesn't let the opportunity slip to throw in a jab: "Well, you don't want to be in the back of the cave, I'll tell you that."
  • April 11, 2014: A contestant during College Week has just called C, which fills in the Round 1 puzzle MYTHOLOGICAL HERO ACHILLES entirely.
    • You'd Expect: That he would solve by pronouncing each word correctly.
    • Instead: He pronounces "Achilles" as "Ay-chill-us" and is ruled incorrect. The next contestant solves for only $600, bumped up to the house minimum of $1,000.
    • To Make Matters Worse: He had $5,100, a trip to London, and the Million Dollar Wedge when he slipped.
    • Later: The same contestant is playing the Prize Puzzle, with THE WORLD'S FASTEST _A_ revealed and the category given as Person. At the moment, he has a fairly big chunk of change and both Car tags.
    • You'd Expect: That he would either solve THE WORLD'S FASTEST MAN, or spin again to call the M and/or N.
    • Instead: He calls C, and the next contestant benefits again from his mistake by solving for just the Prize Puzzle trip to Jamaica.
    • After that: the same contestant has _N-TH_-SP_T D_C_S__N. Pat has just told the contestants that only vowels remain.
    • You'd Expect: That he would solve ON-THE-SPOT DECISION; if he's not entirely sure, he can call the O's, E's or I's before doing so.
    • Instead: He says ON-THE-SPOT DICESPIN. The next contestant benefits again from his mistake.
    • However: Despite missing out on at least $49,000, the Million Dollar Wedge and the Prize Puzzle, he wins the game. Pat states that nobody has ever taken a more "circuitous route" than him.
  • April 28, 2014: A contestant has filled in most of the Prize Puzzle, with BOO_ING M_ SHORE EXCURSION on the board.
    • You'd Expect: That she would correctly solve BOOKING MY SHORE EXCURSION, with maybe a spin for the Y or K.
    • Instead: BOOZING MY SHORE EXCURSION. The next contestant solves and wins a Caribbean cruise.
  • June 4, 2014: A toss-up under Song Lyrics, S_RF C__Y _ERE WE COME
    • You'd expect: SURF CITY HERE WE COME
    • Instead: SURF PLAY WHERE WE GO

    Other 
Important: Please limit this section to instances in which at least two contestants are stumped by the same solution.

  • December 29, 1982: A Teen Week episode. The category is Things, and THE N_N_ THE P_NT_ _ND THE S_NT_ M_R__ is showing in a Speed-Up round. Pat has landed on $1,500; Jonathan has a then very-huge $12,700, Chris has $1,500 and Evangelina has $3,000. Pat has just announced that only vowels remain and it is Jonathan's turn.
    • You'd expect: Jonathan to call either the A's or the I's before identifying three ships well-known to history: THE NINA THE PINTA AND THE SANTA MARIA.
    • Instead: He calls an O.
    • To Make Matters Worse: Chris calls the I's but fails to so much as spit a guess.
    • Finally: Evaneglina calls the A's and solves the completely-revealed puzzle for $3,000.
    • What Makes It Worse: Had Jonathan claimed his $12,700, it would have certainly been among the top single-round amounts for a daytime show to that point. He could have bought most of the prizes in the studio plus a hefty Service Merchandise gift certificate. The prize budget that day was a paltry-by-even-1982-standards $26,000, with the car unavailable until that week's Friday show.
  • Fall 1983 (nighttime): The category is People, and CH__CH AND CH_N_ is showing.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant, who has $3,400 plus a $1,550 Cartier man's watch as the Wheel prize, to identify the well-known comedy duo CHEECH AND CHONG. She can solve, spin one last time for the G or at the very least buy the E's and/or the O.
    • Instead: After a pause, she decides to buy a vowel (to an annoyed gasp in the audience) and calls...I.
    • To Make Matters Worse: The next contestant spins and calls an R.
    • Finally: The third contestant calls the G and solves. Pat remarks, "Everybody knows now."
  • November 9, 1983 (daytime): During a Couples Week episode, the winning pair has T__ SE_RET showing on a Bonus Round puzzle.
    • You'd Expect: At least one of the two to recognize the common phrase TOP SECRET.
    • Instead: Neither of them gets the puzzle, after which the husband remarks, "Oh, that was so easy!"
  • May 6, 1992: It's a Clue puzzle: THE SOUL OF WIT.
    • You'd Expect: That exact answer followed by a response of "Brevity", since the Clue is referring to the well-known William Shakespeare quote.
    • Instead: After several wrong turns, the board finally reads THE SOUL OF __T. One contestant takes a wild guess of W, then says the answer in a "that can't possibly be right" tone.
    • To Make Matters Worse: None of them can answer the clue. The contestant who solved guesses Pat Sajak, next contestant guesses Bill Cosby, and the third guesses "laughter". After Pat says that the right answer is "brevity", the first contestant asks "What is brevity?" Cue Pat's response: "Neil Brevity. He works in Vegas a lot."
  • April 9, 1993: Another Speed-Up, this one with a category of Before & After.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to recognize KIRSTIE ALLEY CAT at some point.
    • Instead: Another batch of errors.
    1. Red contestant calls the L's to reveal __RST_E _LLE_ C_T and guesses PRETZEL ALLEY CAT.
    2. Yellow contestant calls a D.
    3. Blue contestant calls the Y, says nothing.
    4. All three contestants call wrong letters, then the red contestant calls the A's and says nothing.
    5. Yellow contestant calls an F.
    6. Blue contestant calls an H.
    7. Finally, the red contestant calls the I's and solves with little confidence.
  • February 24, 1995 (Some of the Greats Week): This Clue puzzle has just been solved: FOUND ON A WALL OR ON YOUR TEETH.
    • You'd Expect: Plaque.
    • Instead: All three contestants screw it up.
    1. Blue contestant: What are braces?
    2. Red contestant: Paste?...What is paste?
    3. Yellow contestant forgoes answering in the form of a question, says Enamel.
  • March 21, 1995: A Clue puzzle of PRESIDENT ON TWENTY-DOLLAR BILL has just been solved.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant to say Andrew Jackson. At the very worst, one of the other two will identify him for the $500.
    • Instead: No one figures out the answer!
  • May 15, 1995: The puzzle is PORTRA_T ON THE _ S D_ME in the category Clue. Pat has just told the players that only vowels are left.
    • You'd Expect: PORTRAIT ON THE U S DIME, followed by recognizing the person in question as Franklin Roosevelt.
    • Instead: The contestant hesitantly opts to buy the I's. It's clear that he still doesn't know, but despite having more than enough to buy the U, he opts to solve and gets as far as PORTRAIT ON THE before getting buzzed out.
    • To Make Matters Worse: After the next contestant solves for the house minimum, none of them can identify who it is!
  • May 8, 1997: On a Celebrity Mother's Day week, Steve Burton and his mother have made it to the Bonus Round. The category is Thing and E_OT_ON is showing.
    • You'd Expect: For at least one of them to talk out EMOTION.
    • Instead: No guess from either of them.
  • November 1, 1997: A rare example from Wheel 2000; the puzzle is _NT_ST_N_, in the category Every Body.
    • You'd Expect: Solving INTESTINE, possibly a purchase of the E's and/or I's just to make sure.
    • Instead: This.
    1. Blue contestant buys an A.
    2. Red contestant has no points and gets buzzed out.
    3. Yellow contestant buys the E's but says ANTESTONE.
    4. Back to the blue contestant who finally solves INTESTINE for 2,000 points.
  • February 6, 2001: Another Toss-Up. The category is Phrase.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to ring in and say SHE ACED IT at some point.
    • Instead: The first contestant to ring in has SHE A_ED IT revealed and guesses SHE ASKED IT. Immediately after, another contestant rings in, but also gives a incorrect guess of SHE AXED IT. The third contestant doesn't ring in at all.
  • April 15, 2003: MAPLE WOOD CREDEN_A is revealed.
    • You'd Expect: Either solving or calling a Z, since the word is CREDENZA.
    • Instead: One contestant calls an H, the next calls a Y.
  • December 10, 2003: The puzzle board reads BRO_HERLY LOVE _REA_ _HEESE _HE LIBER_Y BELL under the category Where Are We?
    • You'd Expect: Solving BROTHERLY LOVE CREAM CHEESE THE LIBERTY BELL or calling the neglected T first. After that, the person who solved should recognize the place as Philadelphia.
    • Instead: First contestant says BROTHERLY LOVE GREAT CHEESE THE LIBERTY BELL and the next gets the puzzle wrong by adding an unnecessary AND before THE LIBERTY BELL note .
    • To Make Matters Worse: After solving, the third contestant says New York.
  • November 16, 2004: On a Family Week episode, a team has made it to the Bonus Round. The category is Title and THE _IE_ showing.
    • You'd Expect: THE VIEW.
    • Instead: Neither of them get the second word, making obviously non-fitting guesses such as THE FIRE and THE WIRE.
  • October 14, 2005: The puzzle board reads _O _O _O AN_ A _OTTLE OF RUM.
    • You'd Expect: YO HO HO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM, perhaps spinning for the H's or even the Y just to be sure.
    • Instead: First contestant says YO YO YO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM and the second says HO HO HO AND A BOTTLE OF RUM.
  • March 5, 2007: The category is Fun & Games, and EN_O_ING THE GREAT OUTDOORS is displayed.
    • You'd Expect: ENJOYING THE GREAT OUTDOORS, or maybe a spin for the J or Y.
    • Instead: Before even spinning the Wheel, a contestant calls an M, and he is asked to spin while held to that letter. Following that, the next contestant correctly spins first before calling...a C.
  • June 2, 2008: A Same Name puzzle of _E_I_AL & STI__ING POINT.
    • You'd Expect: DECIMAL & STICKING POINT, perhaps calling a few more letters if the contestants aren't sure.
    • Instead: Oh boy.
    1. First contestant guesses SPECIAL & STITCHING POINT.
    2. Second contestant calls the D and the C's, revealing DECI_AL & STIC_ING POINT, says DECIMAL & STITCHING POINT.
    3. Third contestand calls the M, revealing DECIMAL & STIC_ING POINT.
      • You'd Then Expect: Spinning for the K or solving.
      • Instead: The contestant spins and calls...Y.
  • October 14, 2008: TORONTO'S SPECTACULAR S__L_NE is shown.
    • You'd Expect: TORONTO'S SPECTACULAR SKYLINE, maybe a spin for the K or the Y.
    • Instead: A spin and a D call followed by another spin and an H call.
  • October 16, 2008: The Speed-Up puzzle WOOD-BURNING STOVE.
    • You'd Expect: That even someone who's never seen one would at least have heard of one.
    • Instead: A comedy of errors.
    1. With ____-__RN_N_ ST___ on the board, the blue contestant says HIGH-BURNING STOVE, then FAST-BURNING STOVE after the buzzer.
    2. Red contestant calls B and says FAST-BURNING STOVE again, then COAL-BURNING STOVE on the buzzer.
    3. Yellow contestant calls G and says COLD-BURNING STOVE.
    4. Blue contestant calls V, says nothing.
    5. Red and yellow contestants both call wrong letters.
    6. Blue contestant calls E, says nothing.
    7. Red contestant calls a wrong letter.
    8. Yellow contestant calls D, says FOOD-BURNING STOVE to the laughter of the other two contestants.
    9. Blue contestant calls O and also says FOOD-BURNING STOVE, but "corrects" it to HOOD-BURNING STOVE. She finally says WOOD-BURNING STOVE, but gets beaten by the buzzer.
    10. Finally, the red contestant calls W and solves. Pat quips that "we burned pretty much everything."
  • May 31, 2010: A simple $1,000 Toss-Up under the category of Thing.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to ring in and say TREASURE MAP at some point.
    • Instead: Two contestants ring in early and can only spit out TREASURE before time runs out. The third has TREASURE _A_ revealed and guesses TREASURE BAY.
  • October 21, 2010: The puzzle is Same Letter. FI_ING FRANKFURTERS & FRENCH FRIES is revealed.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to call the X right away, or just solve.
    • Instead: One contestant calls a P, and the next calls a B.
  • November 16, 2010 (Military Week): The Speed-Up Round is a Phrase. After a few turns, E_ER_THING IS SHI_SH__E is revealed.
    • You'd Expect: EVERYTHING IS SHIPSHAPE.
    • Instead: The contestant who screwed on SOUTH BEACH up earlier tries a guess of EVERYTHING IS SUNSHINE without calling a letter first. He then tries to call a D, but since he's already made an attempt at solving, it isn't taken (not like it would have mattered, anyway).
    • To Make Matters Worse: The next contestant calls the V and says EVERYTHING IS SHIPSHORE.
  • December 2, 2010: Fun & Games is the category, and _I__ING DOWN THE WATER SLIDE is showing.
    • You'd Expect: ZIPPING DOWN THE WATER SLIDE.
    • Instead: Several goofs.
    1. Yellow contestant calls M.
    2. Blue contestant calls C.
    3. Red contestant lands on Free Play and calls the P's.
    4. She spins again and lands on $3,500. Looking like a deer in the headlights, she agonizes for a bit and calls...Y.
    5. Yellow contestant solves.
  • February 23, 2011: A___LAND NEW ZEALAND is revealed during a Speed-Up round.
    • You'd Expect: AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND.
    • Instead: One contestant guesses AVALAND, and another guesses ARCHLAND after calling the C. Eventually, the K is in place, but the same contestant says ACKLAND. Next contestant calls the U (again, vowels are free in Speed-Up)...and says the right answer with about zero confidence. He then says that he's never heard of Auckland.
    • To Make Matters Worse: Pat says Auckland is the capital city of New Zealand, but it's actually Wellington. Auckland is the most populous city, sure, but it hasn't been the capital city since the 1860s.
  • March 28, 2011: A Before & After puzzle of _I_INI STRING CHEESE.
    • You'd Expect: BIKINI STRING CHEESE, maybe a spin for the B and/or K.
    • Instead: One contestant calls a D, and the next calls a W.
  • May 5, 2011: The $2,000 Toss-Up reads _R__NDLY _A_ES.
    • You'd Expect: FRIENDLY FACES.
    • Instead: The first contestant rings in by accident, then the second rings in immediately after and says FRIENDLY WAVES. The third contestant rings in with FRIENDLY FA_ES showing, says FRIENDLY, but runs out of time (he actually said FACES after time ran out, but it was edited out because...because).
  • October 11, 2011: The puzzle board reads _ORL__I_E SMASH-HIT MUSICAL. It's a Prize Puzzle and the contestant has the $10,000-Mystery Wedge, a trip to Barbados, the Wild Card and $12,550 in cash.
    • You'd Expect: The contestant to figure out that WORLDWIDE is the first word by either solving immediately or spinning for the D's and/or W's.
    • Instead: He calls a P.
    • To Make Matters Worse: The next contestant spins and calls an F.
  • December 1, 2011: A $2,000 Toss-Up under the category of Living Things.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to guess PONDEROSA PINES.
    • Instead: Nobody rings in until the E in PINES is missing, and the contestant who rings in says PONDEROSA PINTS. As a result, nobody else gets a chance before the last letter is put up.
    • To Make Matters Worse: The same answer also stumped all three contestants when it was the $2,000 Toss-Up on May 29, 2007.
  • January 5, 2012: A Before & After of J__T IN THE NIC_ O_ TIME MA_A_INE. The yellow contestant also has a Kia tag.
    • You'd Expect: JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME MAGAZINE, or maybe an attempt at the other Kia tag.
    • Instead: JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME MACHINE.
    • To Make Matters Worse: With JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME MA_A_INE revealed, the blue contestant calls an R.
  • November 2, 2012: The first Toss-Up has a category of Thing.
    • You'd Expect: At the very worst, two contestants might ring in too early, and the third one would wait for all but one letter to reveal to solve the puzzle RUBBER MASK.
    • Instead: All three contestants ring in while the second word is completely blank, and nobody solves.
  • November 6, 2012: It's a Same Name puzzle, and WILLIE AND _ULL NELSON is revealed.
    • You'd Expect: WILLIE AND FULL NELSON, or maybe one final spin for the F.
    • Instead: The first contestant says WILLIE AND, pauses, and says BULL NELSON. The next contestant just decides to solve, but says WILLIE AND PULL NELSON. (To be fair, he later says that he thought the first contestant said "Full".)
  • November 12, 2012: A Speed-Up under the category of On the Map. The answer is INDEPENDENCE MISSOURI.
    • You'd Expect: The answer itself is pretty tough, but any attempted guesses should at least be 1) a one-word city and 2) a city that's in the state given.
    • Instead: Incorrect guesses of KANSAS CITY MISSOURI and INDIANAPOLIS MISSOURI.
  • November 13, 2012 (Military Families, so teams of two): What Are You Doing, and a Speed-Up S_TT___ __ TH_ H_T S__T.
    • You'd Expect: Either to get SITTING IN THE HOT SEAT right away, or to first guess SITTING ON THE HOT SEAT right away, then change the preposition to the correct one as contestants are allowed unlimited guesses during a not-that-short time limit.
    • Instead: Hoo boy.
      • The first team tries SITTING ON THE HOT SEAT, and when that is ruled wrong, they try SETTING ON THE HOT SEAT and SETTING UP THE HOT SEAT.
      • The next team adds the O to HOT (thus, ON is completely ruled out)... and repeat SITTING ON THE HOT SEAT and SETTING UP THE HOT SEAT.
      • The third pair calls the N's. The husband then repeats SITTING ON THE HOT SEAT again; thankfully, his wife saves them with the correct answer.
  • December 5, 2012: A Speed-Up under the category What Are You Doing?
    • You'd Expect: Someone to solve the seemingly harmless puzzle POPPING THE CORK.
    • Instead: Wow.
    1. Blue contestant calls the H and with ______G _H_ ____ showing, guesses MIXING THE CAKE.
    2. Red contestant calls the N and gives a joke answer: BLANKING THE BLANK. Pat: This is not Match Game.
    3. Yellow contestant calls the T, says nothing.
    4. Blue contestant calls an A.
    5. Red contestant calls the E, says WATCHING THE SHOW.
    6. Three wrong letter calls are edited out.
    7. Yellow contestant calls the R, says MOWING THE YARD.
    8. Blue and red contestants call wrong letters.
    9. Yellow contestant calls the C, says nothing.
    10. Blue contestant calls an F.
    11. Red contestant calls the P's, says POPPING THE CORN.
    12. Finally, the yellow contestant calls the K and solves.
  • November 21, 2013: The $3,000 Toss-Up is GIRL SCOUT TROOP in the category People.
    • You'd Expect: That it would be solved without much difficulty.
    • Instead:
      • With G___ _C__T _____ revealed, the first contestant rings in and says GIRL SCOUT GIRLS.
      • Second contestant, with G___ SC_UT __O__ showing, guesses GIRL SCOUT MOMS. Pat instructs the third player to take her time...
      • ...and once G_R_ SCOUT __O_P is showing, she guesses GIRL SCOUT GROUP.
  • December 5, 2013: During a Military Week, the Speed-Up puzzle is People and __N_RALS AND MA__RS is showing.
    • You'd Expect: GENERALS AND MAJORS.
    • Instead: Three lost turns are edited out, then the yellow contestant calls the J and guesses FUNERALS AND MAJORS. The blue contestant finally calls the G and solves.
  • December 20, 2013: Another Speed-Up with Living Thing as the category.
    • You'd Expect: Someone to guess TOY FOX TERRIER with no trouble.
    • Instead: Eek.
    1. Red contestant calls the R's to reveal T__ ___ T_RR__R, says TWO LEG TERRIER.
    2. 5 more wrong letters are called, then the red contestant calls the E's, says TOP DOG TERRIER.
    3. Red contestant gets her turn back after two more incorrect letters. She calls the O's and says TOP BOX TERRIER.
    4. Three more wrong letters, then the yellow contestant calls the Y and says...TOY BOX TERRIER
    5. Blue contestant calls a J.
    6. Finally, the red contestant calls the F and solves.
  • April 23, 2014: Same Name is the category with C_MMENCEMENT AND CAR __EA_ER_ showing.
    • You'd Expect: COMMENCEMENT AND CAR SPEAKERS, perhaps another spin for the S's.
    • Instead: The yellow contestant says DEALER for the last word and after the blue contestant hits Bankrupt, the red contestant calls Y.
    • Later: The puzzle board reads KEEP YOUR NOSE TO THE _RIN_STONE under the category Phrase.
    • You'd Expect: KEEP YOUR NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE.
    • Instead: The red contestant calls an M, then the yellow contestant calls a C.
  • May 21, 2014: A Prize Puzzle: _IE_S OF THE BRILLIANT BLUE SEA is showing under the category Things.
    • You'd Expect: VIEWS OF THE BRILLIANT BLUE SEA.
    • Instead: Wow.
    1. Yellow contestant calls an M.
    2. Blue contestant calls a P.
    3. Red contestant calls a Y.
    4. Finally, the yellow contestant solves.

    Fictional Examples 
  • Mad TV had a parody on November 15, 2003. The category is Quotation, and GIVE ME LIBERT_ OR GIVE ME DEATH is revealed. Several incorrect guesses are made on the third word, and one contestant calls an F. The last blank is revealed to be a happy face. The show later cuts to a test card acknowledging technical difficulties.
  • Gimme a Break!! in 1984 featured Nell and Addy as contestants on a "Best Friends Day" edition of the show note . Nell has $7,600 and the puzzle board shows GI_E ME _IBERTY _R GI_E ME _E_T_ under the caterory Quotation. However, she missolves the puzzle as GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME A CAR, allowing Addy to win the round.
  • In Family Guy, Peter Griffin is in the Bonus Round, using the five-and-a-vowel rule. Peter starts by calling Z, maybe just a gutsy call to start off. He then picks 4, followed by three Q's, and finishes by calling the Batman symbol. Miraculously, he solves the puzzle even with no letters revealed.
  • Saturday Night Live also had a parody on May 6, 2006, with Tom Hanks playing as Pat. The Speed-Up category is Phrase, and BY THE S_IN OF OUR TEETH is revealed. Hilarity Ensues...
    • Afterwards, the remaining K is revealed, and Pat lampshades the stupidity of the contestants, after which they claim to have been insulted by the skin of their teeth. Pat later decides to quit the show.
  • On South Park, Stan's dad Randy appears in the Bonus Round. The category is People Who Annoy You, and RTSLE is given automatically; Randy picks BNGO, revealing N_GGERS on the board. Very reluctantly, he makes an incorrect guess which shocks the studio and television audience. The correct answer is revealed to be NAGGERS.
  • In Friends episode "The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy", Joey is watching Wheel of Fortune on TV, and calls the contestant an idiot for not being able to solve _OUNT RUSH_ORE... then performs his own What an Idiot moment by exclaiming "It's COUNT RUSHMORE!" Later on, Chandler tells him "And by the way, there is no Count Rushmore!" to which Joey replies "Oh yeah? Then who's the guy who put the faces on the mountain?" (The answer was, of course, MOUNT RUSHMORE.)

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