A Loophole Abuse examples list from the British TV Show Taskmaster, a list so big we had to give it its own page. This is down to the nature of the show and how it involves lateral thinking, which makes its celebrity contestants think of ways to abuse the wording of a task, bypass a task requirement entirely, question the Ambiguous Syntax tasks are often given, or, well, they employ Loophole Abuse. As intended, this happens pretty often, and Greg will allow the behavior if it's sufficiently funny, clever, or entertaining (or all three), but he is not afraid to disqualify contestants who obviously break the rules of the Tasks. Reggie from Taskmaster (U.S.) also did the same thing.
- There are attempts by contestants to not read the last sentence of the task ("Your time starts now") that is almost always at the end of the task letter, usually so they can formulate a plan or to understand the task better without running down the clock. In "A Coquettish Fascinator", the first part of the "50 unique items in the bin challenge" changes the letter at the end to read "Your time starts when Alex touches you on the shoulder", which makes all but two of the contestants flee from Alex to avoid him touching him, leading to a brief moment of tag between Alex and few of the contestants. "Friendship is truth" had contestants start the task when they next blinked, leading to a staring competition with Alex/ the camera. Hugh just tried to look away from Alex.
- This tradition was started by Richard Osman in "There's Strength in Arches", in which he pumps up an air-bed before reading the task out loud, as foresight from other tasks had taught him up until that point that most tasks ended with the dreaded sentence. Ironically, this turned out to be completely unnecessary to complete the task.
- In "The Pie Whisperer", a task required the contestants to work out what was in each of 5 pies, without "breaching" them. Roisin and Tim simply asked Alex to punch, eat or generally open the pies in some fashion (the task specified they couldn't breach the pies, Alex or anyone else were free to breach them). Roisin amusingly, looked away at Alex while he was testing the pies, and "created her own hurdles" as Greg put it, and she admitted that ten minutes after finishing the task, she realized she could've just asked Alex to smash the pies open. Tim gets first and Roisin gets second place.
- In "The Poet and the Egg", one task is to throw a teabag into a mug from the furthest distance. Frank uses a thin cardboard box put up against a wall to guide wet teabags into the cup, Roisin exploits the Exact Words of the task, and drops the teabags into the cup at height with a ladder (the task never said the teabags had to be thrown horizontally). Like Frank, Tim uses a catcher to guide the teabag into the mug, and opts for tarpaulin, and he uses a ball catcher to throw a teabag wrapped onto a tennis ball, and throws it into the mug. Josh however, attempting to broaden his target, says that he would define "mug" as "a receptacle larger than a cup, that you drink tea out of." He proceeds to pull the wheelbarrow out of the shed and promises to drink tea out of it by the end of the task. Tim comes first, Frank second, Romesh third, and Roisin fourth. Greg disqualifies Josh, though not because he used a wheelbarrow, but because Josh put the milk in first.
- In "Down an Octave"
- A task was to make a block of ice disappear. Tim thought the best course of action was to dump it into the River Thames so it could melt. It lead to some back and forth between Tim and Alex, with Tim asking Alex to stop the clock repeatedly, and Alex refusing to do so until he couldn't see it anymore. He does stop the clock eventually. Tim came last, despite his "creative" solution.
- Another task from the same episode was to collect as many tears as possible. Josh and Romesh used food to produce tears, the former used an onion, the latter hot chili sauce. Frank however, used some of the production team, and collected their tears too (the task specified to collect tears, it didn't have to be only Franks tears.) Frank collected 12 tears, and won the task.
- In "Little Denim Shorts":
- Tim tried to get out of a task requiring him to grow out a nail by getting a written excuse from the director of the play he was appearing in (his character was a compulsive nail biter). It didn't work, as Frank Skinner pointed out that Tim could have grown out a toenail.
- One task was to make a Swedish person blush as much as possible. Most of the contestants understood this as trying to embarrass Frederik the Swede by getting into his personal space, asking intimate questions, and outright flirting. Roisin tries this method first and then she asks him to stand with his head between his legs (but not for dirty reasons) to get the blood flowing to his head. Roisin won the task.
- In "Fear of Failure", the contestants are ordered to place three large exercise balls on top of a yoga mat which is in top of a steep hill. While everyone else interprets this as getting the balls up the hill and does so (with varying degrees of competency), Richard instead brings the yoga mat down from the hill and places the balls on it at the bottom, reasoning that the task is worded in such a way that it never actually requires the balls to be taken up the hill. This one ultimately required the producers to get in touch with Susie Dent, the prominent lexicographer who notably appears on Countdown, to judge whether Richard had interpreted the task reasonably. Susie concurred with Richard's reading as being valid, enabling Richard to win the task.
- In "There's Strength in Arches", a task required to get some objects from one side of a water stream to another, into a shopping trolley. While everyone used bridges, waded through the stream, or threw the items into the shopping trolley, only Richard throws the trolley to the items, so transporting would be easier (the task only specified the items had to be in the trolley, there were no rules about not moving the trolley. It is worth noting that others attempted to push the trolley, but found that its wheels were locked).
- In "Pea in a Haystack", a task required contestants to propel a pea onto a red rug. However, the verb "propel" is quite vague, although most interpreted it as throwing. Rob with a score of 414.53 Meters, by placing a pea in a wheelbarrow, moving it round the garden, then placing it onto the rug. In the video, Rob also had the foresight to provide the definition and explain his rationale in case Greg tried to make a rebuttal. Greg did lampshade this. Rob came second. Amazingly, Al abused Exact Words even more, as he placed the pea onto the rug, rolled up the rug, then carried it in a Taxi for 18 miles. winning the task comfortably, while also burning £150 for a taxi ride to Slough for the sakes of the task.
- In "Little Polythene Grief Cave", all the contestants had to collect as much of their own sweat as they could in 20 minutes to fill an eggcup. Sara took a different approach as to what "own sweat" could refer to, and bought sweat off of the sound man, and paid him £2 for 8 drops of sweat. Greg approves of her actions, and at the end of the task is awarded second place.
- The "make a flag meal" task from the same episode featured a rare example of Alex and Greg pointing out a loophole to the benefit of a contestant. The task had them make a meal that resembled a flag. Paul attempts to recreate the Mexican flag and comes nowhere close, but Alex points out that his meal actually bore a decent resemblance to the Mali flag. Greg then notes that they had to make a meal that looks like a flag, not necessarily the flag they were going for. Greg decides to give Paul third place as a result.
- In "The F.I.P", A task required two teams to play charades, over a river....while wearing foam hands. One person from each team went on one side, the other one/ two went the other side of the river. They had to guess as many movies, TV Shows and Music singles as possible. Paul and Al tried guessing what Dave was doing, until Dave realised he could get someone else to shout out the titlesnote , as he wasn't allowed to. They win the task.
- Another task from the same episode had the contestants try to transfer as much water as they could between two buckets placed far apart with only laughably ineffective materials to help them. They also could not move either bucket. Al Murray got around this last part by paying Alex to move the bucket for him — after all, the task's instructions didn't say that Alex couldn't move the buckets. This one causes a bit of controversy, however, since Sara Pascoe had also asked Alex if he could move the buckets without offering any money, with Alex refusing in a way which suggested that it would be against the rules for him to do so, and Sara ended up being disadvantaged. Instead of punishing Al (who had no idea about this), Greg instead gave Sara an extra point and punished Alex by making him give the money to charity.
- In "A fat bald white man", one task is draw an accurate picture of a person sitting behind a curtain, whom the contestants are not allowed to look at (but are allowed to ask yes or no questions to). Hugh Dennis gets a mirror out of the house, places it opposite the curtain, and, while looking in the mirror, lifts the curtain several times. He defends this to Alex by saying that looking in a mirror is looking at an image of a person, not the actual person. Greg wasn't so convinced, but he did say that if his drawing was good enough, he'll allow it. This point ends up being moot, since Greg considers his drawing to be by far the worst, and he comes stone dead last.
- In "Look at Me":
- All the contestants had to draw a painting of Greg on an easel several feet away surrounded by a red mat, with only paint or paintbrushes being allowed to touch the canvas or the mat. Hugh put two mats down to reach the canvas, Joe stuck a paintbrush onto a long stick, Lolly did the same thing as Joe, with her canvas falling over near the end and instead just knelt down and continued painting it. However Mel and Noel decided to roll up a portion of the red mat with a paintbrush to stand next to the canvas. Hugh got disqualified, Lolly came fourth, Mel came third, Joe came second, and Noel came first.
- The contestants were tasked with keeping a basketball on a running treadmill without touching the ball or the treadmill. Hugh realized that he could simply unplug the treadmill, and won by a margin of months.
- In "Spatchcock It":
- One task is to get a stuffed camel through the smallest gap possible. Most of the contestants try to shove the camel, either whole or cut up, through small spaces. Mel, however, takes off in a taxi, and runs around with the camel in a "Baby GAP" store (the smallest of the GAP clothing brand stores). Greg awards her first place for her ingenuity.
- In the same episode, one of the tasks involves working out what's inside a zipped up sleeping bag. The contestants are not allowed to look inside the bag or take anything out. Hugh unzips the bag, and then lifts it upside down so the contents fall out, and in the studio he argues that he hadn't physically taken anything out. Greg disqualifies him.
- In "No Stars for Naughty Boys," there is a three-way tie between Hugh Dennis, Joe Lycett and Lolly Adefope at the end of the episode. The tiebreaker task is to open a jar of mayo the quickest with Vaseline slathered all over it. Lolly proceeds to open it with just her hands. Hugh grabs a tea towel from the kitchen and drops it on the floor. Before reading the task, Joe asks Alex if he can complete the task without opening the task envelope if he thinks he knows what the task is, grabs a pair of gloves, and opens the jar before opening the envelope. Joe won the tiebreaker with a time of 0 seconds.
- In "Phoenix", one of the tasks is to remove a ball from a tube without moving the tube. Aisling Bea takes the tray the tube is attached to and it turns it upside down. Sadly, she is promptly disqualified, as the tube clearly moves while she is turning it upside down.
- In "A wind-dried puffin", a task required the contestants to stack cans from a shopping trolley onto a table, while also saying "Hi, I'm from X" (X being a country) while also shaking Alex's hand, and they had to do this every 10 seconds. At the start, Alex had asked them to tie themselves to the table via the noose before reading the task out, and Bob had noticed that the task never said he needed to remain tied up, while the others presumed the opposite. Bob and Mark came first, Nish came third, Sally fourth, and Aisling came last
- In "Their waters so delicious", both Sally and Mark abuse the wording of a task that wouldn't let them touch the floor, or another object that they'd been previously stood on, in order to get a coconut as far away from the Taskmaster house as possible. Mark piggybacks one of the boom operators (the Task stated Mark couldn't touch the ground, not anyone else that he happened to be riding on). Mark gets disqualified for immediately touching the ground when dismounting from the boom operator. Sally stays on a table, while Alex posts a coconut to the Prime Minister of Fiji. Sally came first, as the coconut made it nearly two miles away to the post office, although posting restrictions (and presumably the 20 minute time limit) prevented it from actually being shipped any further.
- In "The Old Soft-Curved Padlock," there is one task where the contestants were asked to build the tallest tower of the provided lemons in a bowl and a knife. The knife could only be wielded a maximum of five times. Alice used Exact Words to her advantage and grabbed several knives from the kitchen to cut up the lemons, and in doing so, she was the only one who found that one of the lemons at the bottom of the bowl contained toothpicks. Russell also tried to argue that his "tower" of lemons leaning along the inside of the bowl was legitimate, supported by the dictionary definition. Russell took first place, and Alice took second.
- The team task in "My Eyes Are Circles" is to paint the best still-life protrait. One team member would be blindfolded and would be completing the painting, while the remaining team members would remain seated and direct the painter using only a given set of words. With the boys' team, Rhod decides that he and Phil would grab James's hand and guide his brush, which isn't explicitly forbidden in the rules of the task. Despite protest from Jessica and Kerry that the boys veered into cheating, Greg awards the boys with 3 points and the girls with 2.
- In "Twelve Blush Majesty", one of the tasks involves the contestants to get a cricket ball into a golf hole on the other side of the garden. The tactics used ranged from pretty logical, as Phil used brooms and sticks to guide the ball into the hole, Jessica did a similar thing but with pipes, which in her case, actively hampered her progress, James relied on his own actual skill (and misses a Par, much to his anger and frustration), Kerry also relied on her own skill. Rhod however, managed to dig up the golf hole, place it on top of the mat that was above it, drag the mat to the ball, reassemble the hole near the ball, places a pipe leading to the hole, and shoots to get a hole in one. He wins the full 5 points, simply because of how outside the box his approach was.
- "A Coquettish Fascinator" features an instance of Greg and Alex helping out a contestant with a loophole abuse in the wording of the task (similar to the flag meal example from Series Three). Phil successfully fitted all ten pairs of glasses in the box he selected, but in the process of stacking them, one of the glasses broke. In a rare show of leniency to Phil, Greg notes that the task requirement is not to break a pair of glasses, so his attempt was allowed to stand and Phil wins this task.
- In "I can hear it gooping", the contestants have to tie themselves up, with the scores being determined by how long it takes Alex to free them. Rhod thinks for a moment and realizes that there's nothing in the wording that prevents him from tying Alex up before he ties himself up. Rhod wins the task by securing Alex tightly enough that Alex can't free himself and has to wait for Rhod to come back and untie him.
- From the episode "A Novel About Russian Gulags":
- A task was to run as far as possible while continuously making a noise. Iain interpreted this as him beatboxing while running. He gets last place, as there were gaps between his beats.
- There was a task to transport the most rice from the lab to a bottle in the living room which they were not allowed to move said bottle out of the living room. Paul Sinha points out that there was no rule against actually moving the bottle closer to the lab, and he just takes it from the living room to the lab. This places Paul last, because, as Greg and Alex point out in the studio, while you can indeed move the bottle, you can't however, take the bottle out of the living room!. Cue Face Palm by Paul, and a disqualification, but he does end up getting a point for admitting his mistake.
- In "The Barrel Dad", a task required contestants to get a loo roll through a toilet seat hanging up from a wire above them. Iain completely failed to spot the hanging toilet seat, and instead uses the houses toilet. He then decides to unravel the toilet paper so that only the cardboard tube remained. He then passed it through the houses toilet seat, and finished the task. His interpretation of the rules was welcomed by Greg, and he got 5 points for being the quickest.
- In "Another Spoon," the contestants are tasked with lassoing Alex from behind a line (marked by masking tape) right at the doorstep of the Taskmaster house. As most of the contestants find, there is not much room from where they are standing to swing the rope around to lasso Alex. However, Ed, Jo and Rose realise that they can move the line all the way to Alex and then lasso him from the shortened distance. Jo completed the task in 80 seconds and received the 5 points. Rose took 1 minute before she moved the line and another minute and 20 seconds to successfully lasso Alex and received 4 points. Amusingly, Ed took over 9 minutes to complete the task (longer than Katy, who took over 7 minutes without moving the line) because it took him so long to come to that conclusion and received 2 points.
- In "A Cuddle," the first pre-recorded task is to score the highest amount of points by throwing an entire egg into the "metal things," with any unbroken eggs doubling the score. The egg must be released from the starting chair and that chair and those metal things could not be moved around. David, after trying the straightforward approach of tossing eggs at the metal receptacles, used Exact Words and cracked one of his eggs while sitting on his chair ("releasing" his egg) and then emptied the contents into one of the metal things. Greg ruled that David's is a valid interpretation of the word "release" and David scored three points.
- In "Shaqinahat", the contestants have to throw something into a pedal bin from the furthest distance with the caveat that the bin's lid must be closed when the object is thrown. While Rose and Katy come up with rickety contraptions to press the pedal from a distance, Jo simply gets a crew member to open the lid for her. Ed, meanwhile, uses Exact Words by kicking out the bottom of the bin and flipping it upside down so that the lid itself is never opened while he completes the task.
- In "God's haemorrhoid", Katherine and Daisy thought they were doing this when tasked with knocking a coconut off a pole. Instead of using the balls provided, they ran up and used their hands and each received a giant teddy bear as a prize. However, their elation soon faded when it turned out that there's a follow-up task.
- In the follow-up task, Katherine tries to get around the the condition that she's not allowed to walk on the grass while holding drinks by "tippy-toe running" on the grass while holding drinks. Her argument is all for naught, because she spills her drinks, disqualifying her from the task anyway.
- In "Hippopotamus":
- The contestants had to create cocktails, with the caveat being that they had to throw out their efforts if they made any noise exceeding 60 decibels. After numerous failed attempts, Mawaan realized that he now had a bin full of mixed ingredients and decided to pour some in a glass (along with bits of muck and hair that had been in the bin as well) for Alex to sample.
- One task required the contestants to draw a picture of "the animal that is watching you" while looking into a mirror at all times, with the added clue that the animal was wearing a hat. The intended solution was for the contestants to work out that there was a statue of a duck wearing a fez on the other side of the mirror. Johnny, however, happened to be wearing a hat as part of his outfit, and since he reasoned that he was technically an animal and he was technically watching himself by looking into the mirror, he simply drew a self portrait. After some convincing from Johnny and Alex, Greg conceded that this tactic was allowed by the Exact Words of the task and declared Johnny the winner (as it was also a good self-portrait).
- The next task required the contestants to move water from Barrel A to Barrel B within 10 minutes, while not being allowed to move the barrels until 5 minutes had passed. Mawaan readied a garden hose, and when the 5 minutes had passed he lifted Barrel A above Barrel B and sprayed the hose into it, causing the water to then pour into Barrel B. This technique comfortably won him the task, even though he had lost most of the water originally in Barrel A.
- In "Moments of Silence," the task is to extract and then drink a tablespoon of coconut water. The task takes place in the lab and each contestant is provided two whole coconuts and several implements on the table. There is a caveat that if two more more contestants choose the same extraction method, they would each be disqualified. Katherine, after pondering all the items, takes another look at the task, then walks out of the lab into the kitchen and grabs a coconut water drink. Despite being the slowest, Katherine won the task.
- In "Dog Meat Trifle", the contestants are tasked to neatly put clothes on a clothes rack about 8 feet away, but must not step outside of the small square they are stood in. The contestants used the hangers, the clothes and mannequin provided to hook the rack and drag it to them, but Katherine was the only one who thought to lie down with her feet inside the square to do so. Since she never stepped outside, Richard was perfectly willing to argue in favour of her strategy to Greg.
New Year Treat
- The task is to fit the largest item through the hole of a donut without breaking the donut itself. All of the contestants come up with fairly Loophole-y solutions to the task, to varying degrees of success:
- Krishnan uses a long rope to tie multiple items together, arguing that once tied they qualify as "one item". Greg allows it, though he only gets third.
- Shirley used a knife to cut out the center of one of the donuts, expanding the size of the hole she had to work with and allowing her to get a large pipe through the donut hole. Greg allows it, and she gets second.
- John tried several different approaches before realizing he could use liquid, and poured a large amount of tea through the donut. It's allowed, but the revelation came late enough in the task that he only got enough tea through to qualify for fourth place.
- Nicola puts the donut on the tip of a cactus, arguing that because part of the cactus did go through the hole, the whole cactus should count as her item. Greg does not allow it, saying that the only thing she got through the hole was a small chunk of cactus. Nicola finishes last.
- Rylan uses a camera and some Forced Perspective trickery to make it appear like he got a life-size plastic cow through the hole of the donut. Greg allows it, specifically because "it will piss off a bunch of people on the internet". Rylan wins the task.
Taskmaster Denmark (aka Stormester)
- One task was "make the tallest tower". Rather than building a tower Heino Hansen drive all the way to repair a crack in Rundetårn with tape. This works because the task might as well be "repair the tallest tower".
Taskmaster Finland (aka Suurmestari)
- During the Finnish version of the "collect the most tears" task, Mikko Leppilampi hits upon the idea of filling the cup with tear-shaped crystals from the Suurmestari House's chandelier and then using a bottle of artificial tears. In this case, his reading of the rules was disallowed.
Taskmaster Sweden (aka Bäst i test)
- The contestants are given the task to make a train honk. Marko "Markoolio" Lehtosalo first tries going to a train station to ask the conductors to honk while they're stopped, but has no luck finding anyone willing to do so. Then he comes to the realisation (complete with a "ding" sound effect added) that a train can also be a procession of people. So he organises the bystanders around the station into a human train with himself in the lead, then goes "Honk, honk, honk!" himself. The semantics expert the show consults judges his interpretation as legit, and he wins the task.
Other Taskmaster-related content
- The first "HomeTasking" challenge given online to viewers was to submit a video of them throwing a piece of paper into a bin in some spectacular way. One of the entries had the participant, after their first throw caused the paper to land outside the bin, throw a second bin on top of the paper so that their paper was now technically into a bin after the initial throw. It got 7th place.