YMMV / Wheel of Fortune

Our category for this round is "Subjective Tropes". (ding ding DING ding)
  • Adaptation Displacement: Sort of — many people believe the show started in the early 1980s with Pat, which is only half right. This displacement is made more obvious in recent years, with the show's constant references to whichever nighttime season it's on, thus disregarding the long run that the daytime version had already built up come 1983.
  • Awesome Music: "Changing Keys", the 1980s theme song and by far the best known among fans, as well as its various re-orchestrations lasting until 2000.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Throughout Season 23, shows based in Culver City used Zany Cartoon intros featuring people rushing to their television sets to watch Wheel. Such intros were never referenced on the show and had nothing to do with the game. In Seasons 31 and 32, a revamped version of one of the intros was re-used for America's Game episodes.
  • Creator's Pet: The Prize Puzzle. Introduced in Season 21, they originally occurred weekly. Two seasons later, they started occurring daily. Since its introduction, many popular elements have been retired ostensibly to make room for it, such as the Jackpot Round, the bonus categories and the Free Spin (replaced by the Free Play wedge). It doesn't help that the Prize Puzzle is never affected by budget cuts whenever the show makes them.
  • Ear Worm: Both of the think music cues that play during the Speed-Up.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • One episode put up a disclaimer before a TV Title puzzle saying that the episode was taped before the late-night feud with Conan and Leno. The answer? "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN". No doubt many a home viewer solved that puzzle before any letters were revealed.
    • On April Fool's Day 1991, Vanna had a cushion under her dress in the final segment, as a means of tricking Pat and viewers into thinking she was pregnant. This suddenly became much less funny when she had a miscarriage in September 1992.
      • For that matter, the 1992 puzzle "VANNA'S PREGNANT" became this when said miscarriage happened; the puzzle was edited out.
  • Game Breaker:
    • The Prize Wedge, the Mystery Prize, and the now-retired $10,000 Wedge. In one 1985-86 episode, the Wheel Prize was a Cadillac worth $31,211!
    • The top-dollar value, especially if the contestant spins it multiple times or has the Wild Card and opts to use it.
    • Winning the Jackpot could become this if several consonants are called, regardless of whether they are in the puzzle. Even more of a breaker if the top-dollar value is hit.
    • A particularly egregious example is the Prize Puzzle, which merely requires the player to solve the puzzle to win. The value of the prize is at least $6,000, and like other prizes, counts towards the player's score. In fact, it's become a very Boring but Practical strategy for players to solve a Prize Puzzle with zero money even if there are several letters left on the board because the prize is worth so much that any money earned by spinning at that point is too inconsequential in comparison to risk hitting a Bankrupt/Lose A Turn and giving the round (and, more importantly, the prize) to another player. It's such a huge Game Breaker that the only ways for a player to win it and lose the game is either to be flat-out awful during the rest of the game, to fall victim to a $6,000 Final Spin, or for it to be cancelled out by another player getting a different Game Breaker...which, unlike the Prize Puzzle, all require a specific space to be landed on and are vulnerable to Bankrupt. Getting one of the above and the Prize Puzzle basically turns the game into a Curb-Stomp Battle for that contestant, rendering future rounds pointless since by that stage the results are a Foregone Conclusion. With the introduction on the $1,000 Express space (more on that below), the game basically became "Win Round 3 or Lose", and the fans have certainly noticed.
    • The ½ Car. Pick up both tags and win the car (usually in the $15,000 range), and you're almost guaranteed victory. If you win the car in the Prize Puzzle round (Round 3), it's safe to say victory is yours.
    • The Big Money Wedge, used only in Season 25, where a player could earn $25,000 from one letter!
    • The Express Wedge, introduced in Season 31, has the potential to break the game wide open. Essentially, if a contestant lands on this space, they can continuously call consonants at $1,000 each or buy vowels without ever having to spin until they either solve the puzzle or call a wrong letter, in which case they go Bankrupt. The kicker? It only shows up in round 3, which is also home to the more notorious Prize Puzzle. This means that if a skilled or lucky player hits the Express wedge with plenty of consonants left on the board, the no-risk thousands racked up with this space combined with the $6,000+ from the Prize Puzzle can turn this space into a nasty One-Hit Kill against the other two players, where even a $6,000 Final Spin isn't likely to be enough to catch up.
    • The Free Play wedge. Vowels normally cost $250 and can't be called after spinning the wheel. However, when this space was invented, it created a loophole in the game design, and everybody who lands on this space exploits it for free vowels even when it would not be beneficial to do so.
    • On team episodes, both the Wheel Prizes and Prize Puzzle trips are usually higher in value than on regular episodes, which can especially be a game breaker when considering the fact that all other stakes (except for the house minimum being $2,000 instead of $1,000) remain the same. One Family Week in 2010 had both types of prizes worth $15,000, and two teams managed to win both on their episode.
      • It got worse in Season 32. The bare minimum value for prizes increased from $5,000 to $6,000, and as a result, the team weeks generally have even more expensive trips.
    • Starting in Season 31, the "European Vacation" weeks sponsored by Colette Vacations generally have more extravagant trips than usual, which often means both Prize Wedge trips and Prize Puzzle trips valued at well over $10,000.
    • Averted in at least the Australian and British versions, where Wheel prizes do not count towards the total score (except for the face value underneath). In fact, in Australia, flipping over the correct Mystery Wedge makes it more difficult to win the game. However, the special $5,000 wedges used for the 5000th episode did count towards score.
  • Gameplay Derailment: The RSTLNE change in the Bonus Round and the (former) use of ampersands in Same Name can be seen as examples of this.
  • Growing the Beard: Most fans agree that the removal of the shopping rounds was a good idea, although some still hold nostalgia for it. This was first tried on October 5, 1987 as the Big Month of Cash during the nighttime version. It proved so successful that the nighttime version seamlessly moved into the "play for cash" rules set up by the Big Month Of Cash. As a result, the game became much faster, allowing for more puzzles (and consequently, bigger winnings and an increased "play along" incentive for viewers). Daytime followed suit with a No Budget version on July 17, 1989.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • For the first time in over 15 years, viewers heard a different voice announcing in November 2010 because Charlie O'Donnell had fallen ill. The first episode with substitute announcer Johnny Gilbert aired on November 1, 2010, the same day that O'Donnell died (episodes are taped in advance).
  • It's Easy, so It Sucks:
    • On modern-day episodes, the $1,000 Toss-Up (and often other puzzles throughout the game) has something to do with the week's theme 99% of the time. This makes it much easier to figure them out to point of some Genre Savvy fans being able to figure out the puzzle with no letters, or even before the blanks come up. Some themes have more themed puzzles than others; some weeks have only the $1,000 Toss-Up and sometimes one "regular" puzzle themed (often part of a Before & After or Same Name), while others have nearly every puzzle themed, such as the Disney Weeks and Teacher's Week.
      • This is mostly prevalent during "America's Game" weeks, which are technically "generic" weeks compiled of leftover shows from other weeks' tapings. The $1,000 Toss-Up (and sometimes the $2,000 one as well) is almost-always an American city or landmark or patriotic phrase, and less frequently, a phrase involving the "start" of something, being the start of the game.
      • Even weeks that one would think wouldn't have themed puzzles did, such as "Celebrating 30!" week in May 2013, which had several puzzles themed towards aging, the 1980s, and even the number 30 (such as SEPTEMBER APRIL JUNE AND NOVEMBER), and "Wheel 6000" week, where all $1,000 Toss-Ups were themed towards Wheel itself, or involved milestones or success. The very first puzzle that week? SIX THOUSAND SHOWS!, including the exclamation point.
    • In some episodes, the Round 4 puzzle (often the Speed-Up round) is themed towards winning, victory, or finishing. Sometimes, it's obvious that these puzzles are written in hopes that the puzzle becomes meta if the appropriate player solves it - which, to be fair, can become a Moment of Awesome when this does happen (such as one contestant solving COME-FROM-BEHIND VICTORY and actually achieving such a feat with that solve).
    • Some longtime fans have criticized the show for constantly adding newer, often more specific categories: the number of categories has grown from 3 on the 1973 pilot, to 6 when the show began, to 36 (not counting plural forms) today. Something that might originally have been Thing might now be called Living Thing, Food & Drink, Around the House, In the Kitchen, etc.
    • There's also some hatred for Prize Puzzles constantly being themed to beaches or travel in some way.
    • One from the 2012 Facebook version: It is very common for RSTLNE to reveal more than half of a bonus puzzle (such as ALBERT EINSTEIN), which has disappointed some fans who are used to the more difficult ones on TV. As this is a common problem with most of the console adaptations, it most likely stems that the game pulls its bonus puzzles from the entire databank, as opposed to having round-specific puzzles with the appropriate difficulty.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Whenever someone brings up old news on a game show forum, the standard response is something along the lines of "[Chuck] Woolery left Wheel." On occasion, the original poster has no idea what they're talking about ("Chuck Woolery on Wheel? Since when?").
    • Many of the game's catch phrases, such as "I'd like to solve the puzzle", "I'd like to buy a vowel", and "C'mon, big money!" have entered common parlance.
    • The ceramic Dalmatian, a longtime fixture of the shopping rounds. Even though they stopped shopping in the late 1980s, references to the Dalmatian still crop up regularly. Vanna herself has one, named "Sheldon", and it was hidden somewhere on-set throughout all of Season 30.
    • It is fairly common for internet users to Photoshop fake, often vulgar puzzles on a screenshot of the board from an actual episode. There are several viral examples of this, and many assume that they are real.
  • Misblamed:
    • Rolf Benirschke is generally blamed for causing the decline of the daytime version. However, its ratings actually held steady during his six-month tenure and NBC announced its cancellation due to the network and Merv Griffin Enterprises not being able to come up with to a leasing agreement. By this time, The Price Is Right had picked up more viewers while Wheel remained at second place. After the Channel Hop to CBS, the show never attracted the viewer base it formerly had and was off the air a little more than two years later.
    • Zig-Zagged with Harry Friedman. Fans are quick to call him out for the declining quality and cheapness of the show. In actuality, Sony has been in financial trouble since the early 2010s, affecting the overall budget, although Friedman's puzzle selection is...lacking...at best.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The chimes that play as the puzzle is revealed. This was the original version used until Goen's first daytime episode (July 17, 1989), when this version took its place.
    • Also, the chimes used after categories like "Who Is It?" or "Slogan", signaling the puzzle had a bonus answer. This particular sound was recycled from the earlier High Rollers.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The animated introduction used on the Halloween 2010 episodes. It features zombie versions of Pat and Vanna's avatars from the Wii game, filmed in scratchy black-and-white like an old horror movie. Afterward, the trademark "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" chant is distorted, so it sounds deep, low, and scary.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • $2,000, the top value in daytime from 1979-89, was previously used for a head-to-head round on the hour-long episodes in 1975-76.
    • While the prize wedges are most commonly associated with the nighttime show (and daytime from 1989-91), they actually date back to the aforementioned head-to-head round.
    • Nickname was long thought to have only been used from 1988-89 until brief footage surfaced from May 31, 1979 and proved it was this Trope. (It also fits under "Longer Than They Think", as there's also a December 1994 episode with it.)
    • Many shows will tie in most or all of the puzzles to that week's theme. However, some Woolery episodes also had a common theme to all the puzzles.
    • The Prize Puzzle debuted in 2003, right? Wrong… it actually had a "test run" back in 1997!
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Rolf Benirschke, who had little television experience before hosting Wheel. While he showed a friendly rapport with the contestants, he was visibly uncomfortable on-camera and was prone to screw-ups. One of his most unfortunate moments as host was when a game ended in a tie, and he admitted on national television that he didn't know what to do. note 
      • Another time, Benirschke congratulated himself for hitting $2,000 on the Final Spin, but a contestant pointed out that he was looking at the wrong arrow and had actually landed on Bankrupt. Even worse, this was during a teen week.
    • After announcer Jack Clark died in July 1988, disc jockey M.G. Kelly took over the announcer's booth until original daytime announcer Charlie O'Donnell returned on February 20, 1989. Kelly had a low-key delivery not unlike Clark and a tendency to ad-lib around his copy, but gets hate for a supposed lack of enthusiasm. (Furthermore, Pat has confirmed that M.G. often struggled with prize copy, leading to multiple retakes and, subsequently, his dismissal.)
    • Likewise with all the other guest announcers after Charlie's death; the fanbase was almost unanimously in favor of Jim Thornton, as he was the only one who showed any enthusiasm (yes, even over Rich Fields). Jim got the nod.
    • The Aussie version wasn't immune to this, either. Tony Barber, best known for his role as host of Sale Of The Century, was this when he replaced John Burgess in July 1996 due to the Seven Network's abrupt sacking of the latter as well as the numerous changes to the show (mentioned below) that occurred around the same time.
    • Another Aussie scrappy was Steve Oemcke, who replaced Rob Elliot in 2004 after the latter was fired abruptly. This host change began Wheel's terminal decline, which not even Larry Emdur (who replaced Oemcke at the beginning of 2006) could reverse.
    • Among gameplay elements, the most loathed replacement on the American version is the Free Play wedge which superseded the Free Spin token. Prior to its replacement, the Free Spin had been associated with the show since the very beginning on the Shopper's Bazaar pilot. The Free Play takes the Extra Turn associated with the Free Spin but adds the option to call a free vowel which is what almost everybody does when they land on it.
    • The Million Dollar Wedge has also gotten this from fans who liked the $10,000-Wedge.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Voice actor Bob Bergen was a contestant during a 1980 Teen Week. He would later host Jep!, the sister show to Wheel 2000.
    • Alicia Witt was a contestant during a 1990 Teen Week, and played on a Celebrity Edition in 1997.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The 1996 retirements of the $1,000 and $1,500 wedges from Rounds 3 and 4 respectively, even before inflation is considered.
      • $1,500 was already second to top-dollar on the daytime version in late 1979. Between then and the syndicated debut of Season 14, the buying power of cash values dropped by more than half.
      • Additionally, between December 1984 (the introduction of $700, $800, and $900 to Round 1) and the Season 32 debut, the buying power was also halved. From late 1979 though, it's nearly a 70% drop, with the current $2,500 wedge only about as good as $750 was back then.
      • The top regular cash wedge has been $5,000 since the beginning of the syndicated version. As of 2015, it would only have had as much buying power as about $2,000 back in 1983, or about $2,400 in 1987 (when the all-cash format started).
      • On top of all this, the top-dollar spaces have generally moved closer and closer to Bankrupt over the years. Since Season 27, the top-dollar space has always been adjacent to a Bankrupt. As of Season 33, there is only one permanent $900-space and one permanent $800-space on the Wheel. The former is next to Bankrupt and the latter is next to Lose a Turn.
      • Fans were surprised at first to see $650 come back in Season 30 since it was retired four years before the syndicated version began. Its dominance on the wheel a few seasons afterward have not pleased fans, especially those who have been waiting since 1996 for $750 to return.
    • Beginning in Season 19, the Bonus Round prizes were limited to cash and cars.
    • Starting in Season 20, "normal" prize wedges were generally limited to trips, shopping sprees, or sponsored cash prizes.
    • Fans of the show call out executive producer Harry Friedman (who has final approval on which puzzles get used on the show) for picking very poor quality puzzles generally designed to awkwardly fit each week's theme, or puzzles that seem to reinforce negative stereotypes of certain weeks. Girlfriend Getaways was a particularly egregious instance of the latter.
      • Even worse when it's a Phrase that leads to virtually no hits on Google until the episode airs, such as WHERE DO I PICK UP MY SKI-LIFT TICKETS? or TELL THE PAPERBOY TO TAKE A WEEK OFF.
      • Then there's the awkward shoehorning of puzzles in order to meet a certain category's criteria. Rhyme Time has devolved into "two random words that rhyme" such as RIGATONI & MACARONI while What Are You Doing? especially in the Bonus Round is essentially "random -ing word".
    • The Prize Puzzle has led to a few instances:
      • Barring a scant few exceptions, the Prize Puzzle has always offered trips. Puzzles such as TELL ME WHERE I'M GOING PAT make this painfully obvious.
      • Many of the puzzles have been discovered to be ripped from vacation brochures, and it's been joked that others may have come from discarded sitcom scripts. It's been suspected that Harry Friedman himself writes the Prize Puzzle puzzles.
      • How contestants who have solved said puzzle have won the game by less than the value of the round's prize. Even worse, the value of the prize has generally increased, while cash values on the Wheel have remained about the same since Toss-Ups were introduced.
      • Several Prize Puzzles are derivatives of previously-used puzzles with a word or two (often an adjective) switched out with another one.
    • Some fans complain about the heavy amount of neon on the set since 2003, which simplified the shape of the puzzle board's border and replaced many of the golden and glassy motifs of previous sets (although the basic set did receive an update in 2010). At least the neon often changed color based on the theme or location up until the late 2000's where it was almost-exclusively shades of bright blue around the board and purple around the Wheel.
    • Up until around the late 2000's, the studio audience would traditionally cheer and applaud whenever the Wheel landed on the "big money" (even if the contestant were to call a wrong letter afterward). Nowadays, this rarely happens at home base anymore, although audiences at remote tapings generally continue the tradition.
      • In one 2009 episode (the same episode where the Million Dollar Wedge was infamously placed next to Lose a Turn by mistake), a contestant landed on the $3,500 wedge four times in a row. Despite the contestant's excitement, nobody in the audience cheered or applauded for any of the four hits themselves (but did applaud the correct letters called on them like any other correct letter).
      • In recent seasons, even Pat hitting $5,000 on the Final Spin is sometimes only followed by generic clapping obviously added in post-production.
    • As the 2010's progress, the week's theme affects the puzzles more and more each season, to the point where it is now rare that the $1,000 Toss-Up does not have anything to do with the theme (although the $2,000 one is almost always unrelated). This can often lead to outlandish puzzles such as a I'LL BE IN THE SAUNA during a spa-themed week. Some themes are heavily or exclusively reflected in the puzzles more than anything compared to the set and prizes, such as "Wheel Was Here", where the $1,000 Toss-Up is always a city that the show has taped in before, and Season 33's version of "Big Money Week" (see below).
    • Starting with Season 31, fans have noticed an increase of the $30,000 Bonus Round minimum being hit while the $100,000/$1,000,000 envelope wasn't even found until the fourth-to-last week of the season. This only got worse in Season 32, where $32,000 (the minimum value for that season) was hit on 73% (143) of the season's 195 episodes. To put this into perspective, the Car was only hit seven times (all within the first four months of the season), and the season ended with a win-loss record of 74-121.
      • To the show's credit, the frequency of the minimum value being hit in Season 33 is on track to be less than that of Season 32. However, the current season is set to finish with a worse win-loss record; while most modern seasons end with around 35-40% of Bonus Rounds being won, Season 33's win rate hovers around a mere 27%.
    • Also for Season 32, the minimum value increased to $500, but the show still has no plans to introduce regular four-digit values, making outcomes more predictable and increasing the influence of the Prize Puzzle.
    • Likely due to Sony's deteriorating financial status, mainly due to the 2014 hacking scandal, Season 33 brought several budget-saving changes that were quickly panned by fans.
      • Most notably, it was quietly revealed that there would absolutely no remote tapings for the entire season, the first nighttime season since Season 8 without such shows. It should be noted that the number of remotes per season gradually decreased in the seasons preceding this, though - from as high as four in Seasons 15-16, to three in Seasons 17-24, to two in Seasons 25-28, to just one in Seasons 29-32. The show did have plans to tape at Navy Pier in Chicago in October 2015, however.
      • After the first 12 episodes of the season were taped (which did not air in order), the number of $900 wedges on the Wheel was reduced from three to just one (although one of the two casualties is retained for Round 3 only) and one of the two $800 wedges was reduced to $650. Overall, this leaves only three regular wedges valued above $700 (four in Round 3) counting the top dollar value. It didn't help that one of the former $900s (now the yellow $600 two wedges clockwise of $5000) was and still is frequently landed on for the Final Spin.
      • Likely because of an unusually high win rate in the previous season, the 1/2 Car tags were made slightly harder to win by not adding them to the Wheel until Round 2. The Jackpot wedge was retired after Season 30 likely for the same reason.
      • In Season 28, a cash bonus was now awarded when winning a car in the Bonus Round. Said bonus was done away with for Season 33 (although it was briefly decreased from $5,000 to $3,000 for part of Season 31 only).
      • In addition, the cars themselves are generally less expensive than cars offered in previous seasons. One car won in a December 2015 episode was only worth $24,000 and change, over $8,000 less than the prevalent cash minimum and still lower than the $25,000 cash prize that was scrapped in Season 28 in favor of a minimum upgrade to $30,000 (which was changed to the nighttime season number times $1,000 in Season 32). Despite winning the Bonus Round, said winner left with a little over $33,000 overall.
      • Season 33 also saw the first Big Money Week since Season 29, a theme which The Price Is Right now does each season with much higher stakes than normal episodes in just about every way possible. While Wheel's previous Big Money Week saw a set decorated with giant money bags and stacks of gold coins along with increased stakes in the Bonus Round, Season 33's Big Money Week has nothing more to offer than normal episodes except for a higher-than-usual car in the Bonus Round, plus only the show's generic set is used.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Chuck/Susan. Although both were actively in other relationships at the time, their on-screen chemistry and a few of his weirder comments toward her both brought up this Trope.
    • Pat/Vanna. Again, they were in other relationships, but this came up far more often than it did during the Chuck/Susan heyday. Most notable are the infamous kiss on Pat's last daytime show (preceded by his "come here, baby") and his comment to Bob Goen on the first CBS show ("be good to Vanna"). This was later referenced in-show, in a 1997 bit that had Vanna outright addressing - and denying - that the two were married, while she sewed up an outfit and Pat read a newspaper.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • From 1989-96, the nighttime version had a three-day champion rule. Early on, the contestant's cumulative total would be shown on their backdrop, which could hold five digits. One particularly lucky contestant early in Season 7 got north of $100,000 before her third Bonus Round, so Pat taped a "$1" to her backdrop.
    • The puzzle boards...hoo boy.
      • With the trilon board, the "ding" would not always sound at the exact time a trilon lights up. Other times, the buzzer would sound instead.
      • Both Susan and Vanna have turned a letter too far, causing the plastic sheet with the letter in it to slide partially off the trilon. note 
      • In an early Season 2 episode, the first F in the puzzle FRANKFURTERS AND SAUERKRAUT lit up when it wasn't supposed to, and the crew couldn't shut it off, so Pat told everyone multiple times to disregard the lit letter. To Vanna's credit, she didn't turn it around until a contestant called F.
      • For some weeks (on both daytime and nighttime) in 1989, some of the O's in puzzles were quite odd-looking; they were rounder and clearly didn't match the rest of the letters. These were actually zeroes. While numbers were never used on the trilon board on the show proper, they were sometimes used for promotional pictures.
      • Played straight on the Season 14 premiere; when the I would not light up in the Round 1 puzzle TEMPTING OFFER, Pat told Vanna to turn it anyway. About 2 seconds after she turned the trilon, it lit up.
      • Played with on the first episode of the electronic board. Vanna uses the bonus puzzle to demonstrate how the new board works. Pat then tries in vain to light up a letter, even going so far as to hit the board. Vanna then leans in and touches the monitor, and it lights up. (The monitors have to be touched on the right-hand border to activate, although knowing Pat he was probably touching the wrong side on purpose.)
      • Incidentally, Vanna has had a few problems with letters randomly refusing to light up on the electronic board, including an episode only three months after its introduction where she hit the monitor with her fist before it finally cooperated.
      • When a Toss-Up or round begins, the blanks are revealed from top to bottom and left to right, in that order. Sometimes, one or more of the blanks would not appear until about a half second later.
      • In the Bonus Round of a 2013 episode, Vanna was prepared for the puzzle to appear on two rows. It ended up appearing entirely on one row, making it wider. Vanna quickly backed up to the edge of the board as she gestured.
    • Until the mid-1990s, the show made frequent use of an applause machine, which led to obviously-canned "ooh"s whenever a prize was shown, "aww"s whenever someone hit Bankrupt or Lose A Turn, or exaggerated gasps if someone came close to the top dollar value. In some rounds, it was painfully obvious that the same tracks were being recycled (such as the "aww" track on the clip at That One Level below). And on at least one occasion, they used the "children's" track on the applause machine by mistake. A different applause machine (the same one used during the last few years of The Hollywood Squares) is used today, mainly because the Culver City audiences can't be arsed to show any sort of enthusiasm no matter how much the seal trainers try. They since use said machine sparingly, leading to some lackluster audience responses...but at least it's natural.
      • On current episodes (that aren't taped on location), it's usually obvious that any "aww"s heard after a regular puzzle is solved incorrectly or an unsolved bonus puzzle is revealed are added in post-production. Sometimes, Pat's jokes are followed by obviously-dubbed laugh tracks as well.
    • On a March 2014 episode, a contestant landed on a ½ Car tag, but the Bankrupt slide whistle began to sound by mistake.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • The 1974 pilots used Maynard Ferguson's "Give It One" for the theme. When the show made it to air, it used an Alan Thicke composition called "Big Wheels", which had a rather similar melody, production, and chord pattern.
    • The French-Canadian version, La Roue Chanceuse, used one of "Changing Keys".
  • Tear Jerker:
    • These three tributes:
      • Jack Clark on September 6, 1988.
      • Wardrobe manager Alan Mills on February 16, 2009 with Pat's voice breaking near the end.
      • Charlie O'Donnell on November 5, 2010 note  where Pat's visibly on the brink of crying.
    • The Round 2 puzzle on November 2, 1992 was VANNA'S PREGNANT. After the puzzle was solved, Merv came on stage and surprised her with balloons and best wishes. Tragically, Vanna miscarried before the episode could air and the puzzle had to be edited out.
  • That One Level:
    • A Round 1 puzzle of DESE DEM AND DOSE GUYS from October 1989. Adding to that is when the puzzle was revealed entirely; the contestant mispronounced the first word as "desi" twice, after which Pat clearly indicated he wanted to move on by accepting the solve anyway.
      • To top that off, Round 2 was also revealed entirely before it was solved (although correctly this time), causing the opening segment to last for almost 13 minutes.
    • Megaword, which lasted for a mere six-and-a-half months (September 1994-April 1995), and for good reason. In one particularly excruciating example (March 15, 1995), it took ten spins just to get a letter on the board, the Wheel changed hands more than twenty times (including three Bankrupts), and every consonant except J was called before the puzzle OXIDIZED was finally solved. Pat has even gone on record saying that Megaword was a bad idea.
    • Up until the mid-1990s or so, it wasn't rare for Round 1 and/or the last round to be a short answer with few common consonants, often leading to very long stretches of wrong letters. One particularly painful example was GIMME A BUZZ in 1989, which outdid even the OXIDIZED round, as it took thirteen turns before anyone called a letter. (The rest of the round wasn't quite as bad, though.)
    • Sometimes the bonus round can be this, especially when they use a tricky answer that would be nearly impossible to figure out unless you're crazy enough to try calling something like Z. (Not that someone doesn't occasionally thwart it by, say, picking Z-J-W-I and solving JIGSAW PUZZLE.)
  • The Scrappy:
    • The Prize Puzzle. Many fans dislike it mainly for two reasons:
      • As mentioned above, the prize that the contestant wins for merely solving the puzzle often decides who wins the game.
      • The fact that the prize is (barring a scant few exceptions) always a trip generally leads to many puzzles having some kind of positive adjective and/or other inflation thrown into the puzzle just to make it seem longer, such as "EXCEPTIONAL WILDLIFE PRESERVES" or "MILES AND MILES OF PRISTINE COASTLINE". Sometimes, puzzles are even reused after a few years with just one or two words (often the adjectives) switched with something else. The Prize Puzzle is also responsible for many "Phrase" puzzles being random grammatically-correct sentences about positivity or traveling, such as "WE WOULD LOVE TO GO WHALE-WATCHING" (although to be fair, the show has lightened up on this starting around 2015).
    • Team weeks are often disliked due to the game sometimes being slowed down by twice as many interviews and teams conferring over what letter to call. In addition, the house minimum during these weeks is $2,000, which is awfully generous when you consider that the basic Wheel template is only $500-$900 outside of the top dollar value. Even during the Final Spin where $1,000 is added to the value spun, one consonant on any value except the highest one will give you less than said minimum. Also, the first Toss-Up is still worth $1,000 which is not raised to the minimum itself, which results in several games where a team who solves only that puzzle ends up leaving with the same amount they would've won from solving no puzzles.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Many longtime fans dislike the increased amount of product placement, the loads of new gimmicks and wedges, etc.
    • When the show moved to CBS in July 1989, adopting the "play for cash" format the nighttime show had used since October 1987, the budget was slashed significantly: $50 and $75 spaces littered the Rounds 1-2 layout (sporting diamonds), the highest amount was $1,250, and the bonus round featured such prizes as subcompact cars and $5,000 cash. To compensate, the show lowered the cost of a vowel to $200 when the run began, and in Spring 1990 lowered it further to a paltry $100. To the show's credit, $50 and $75 were gone within the first two months, and bigger prizes became available as the Goen era progressed.
    • Aussie Wheel on July 15, 1996. Not only did Tony Barber replace John Burgess, AND the show moved from Adelaide, South Australia (which had been the show's home since its debut in 1981) to Sydney, New South Wales, but there were several changes to the show as well, including...
      • A new theme song (which was thankfully scrapped after five weeks).
      • The retirement of shopping, and scores essentially became just points, although solving a puzzle awarded a prize.
      • A toss-up question (not a Toss-Up puzzle) determined control of the Wheel at the start of the game.
      • Landing on BANKRUPT completely set your score back to zero, even if you solved a puzzle in a prior round. At least this change only affected score and not prizes that were won.
      • The "Golden Wheel" was replaced with the five envelopes format from the American version, which also lasted only five weeks.
  • They Just Didn't Care:
    • An incident from the October 8, 1992 episode. The puzzle MARILYN MONROE'S LAST FILM has just been solved by the red contestant and since it's a Clue puzzle, naming said film will award $500. He says Something's Got to Give, which was indeed Monroe's last film, only to be ruled incorrect. The yellow player says The Misfits, and is given the $500. Coming back from break, Pat acknowledges that the red player named the last film Monroe worked on, then claims the puzzle was implying her last completed film (which the yellow contestant gave). Fortunately, the error doesn't affect the outcome - the final scores are $5,200, $1,500, and $8,650.
    • Wheel 2000 has this egregious example. On the October 4, 1997 episode, the blue player calls the last consonant in the Speed-Up puzzle GOOSE BUMPS. At this point, a signal should play to tell the contestants that only vowels remain. However, no such notification is given until after the red player picks a (nonexistent) consonant, at which point Lucy says "There's only vowels left, I believe." before the yellow contestant's turn. That player picks the O's and solves for 550 points, making the final scores 1,550, 550, and 1,900. Unlike the above example, this did end up affecting the outcome of the game. On a successful solve worth 750 points, the red contestant would've had enough to go to the Bonus Round.
    • On December 20, 2012, the day after a contestant was penalized for neglecting the G in the puzzle SEVEN SWANS A-SWIMMING, the blue contestant missolves HICKORY-SMOKED COUNTRY HAM without the D. Neither the judges nor Pat notice this, and it is treated as a successful solve. Luckily, this error doesn't affect the outcome as the final scores are $11,950, $1,500, and $8,000. Also luckily, almost nobody notices the error since they're still on the show about the previous day's judging call...which might have been the point.
    • Season 30 saw Fictional Character(s) being renamed to simply Character(s). While the reasoning was sound (to properly categorize characters people thought were real, such as mythological figures), the execution was half-assed - due to Out of Order taping, the last instances of "Fictional" slipped past after the name change, as did any instance of an older bonus puzzle being shown as a bumper. Also, as of Season 32, the category graphic for Character(s) still does not match the font of the other category names.
  • They Wasted A Perfectly Good Amount:
    • For a special "Wheel 6000" week from April 28-May 2, 2014, the $5,000 wedge was replaced with a fully-functional $6,000 wedge. However, the wedge was never hit. It didn't help that four of the five shows had Round 4 begin with the Final Spin, which might have been the point.
    • For a "Big Money Week" in March 2012, envelopes of $65,000, $75,000, and $85,000 were added to the Bonus Wheel, but none of these three amounts were ever hit and the envelopes themselves were never shown off. The fact the three new amounts cheapened the jump from $50,000 to $100,000 didn't help.
  • This Is Your Premise on Drugs / X Meets Y: Hangman meets roulette, on steroids. Maybe a touch of LSD, as colorful as the set got in the late 1980s or so.
  • Two Decades Behind: The introduction of the monitor-based puzzle board in 1997 was seen as a welcome change for fans who thought the old trilon-based one made the show look obsolete.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit: The 33rd season (started in fall 2015) is promoted with Orleans's song "Still the One and clips intended to show that Sajak and White have "still got it."
  • What an Idiot: Has its own page.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Most infamously Rolf Benirschke, as mentioned above. Chuck Woolery was also a debatable example at the time, as he was a struggling Country Music singer with minimal TV experience. However, he proved to be a great host right out of the gate, and has since become a genre veteran with several well-known shows to his credit such as Scrabble, Love Connection, the late-1990s version of The Dating Game, Greed, and Lingo.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/WheelOfFortune