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Bowling for Ratings

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Ah, bowling! The sport of the common man. Generally when TV shows portray someone as an everyday working class hero, the writers make him a member of a bowling team. Could result in just references to a team, a singular bowling episode or a chance for a character to be Bested at Bowling. Trope name is a parody of Bowling for Dollars, a syndicated American Game Show format of The '70s.

Can often produce drama via a 300 scoring 'perfect game'.

Sometimes, a Canadian series will have that country's distinctive five pin variant: five pins with rubber rings around the wide bottom and smaller balls with no finger holes. But neither Canada nor the United States will ever show any other type of bowling (sorry, candlepin and duckpin lovers).


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    Live-Action TV 
  • 21 Jump Street: Hanson is an avid bowler and a member of a bowling league.
  • 7th Heaven: Eric delays telling the family that he needs an open-heart surgery, so he decides the family should go bowling.
  • Cheers: The Cheers gang takes on Gary's in a bowling match.
  • CSI: In "Lover's Lanes", a decapitated head comes up the ball return during a bowling tournament. At the end of the episode, the entire team goes out bowling.
  • Dead Like Me: George joins Happy Time Temp Agency's bowling team in one episode. There's also the Plague Division of reapers from the extended pilot, which spends its time lawn bowling and intently watching rodents for signs of another epidemic.
  • Dexter: Dexter joins a bowling team in Season 2. His biological father also became an avid bowler after turning his criminal life around.
  • Eureka: An episode had the show's bowling league playing against that of Area51.
  • The King of Queens: Doug and Carrie and their friends Deacon and Kelly are on a bowling team.
  • The Office (US): Where Ryan is working when Michael recruits him for The Michael Scott Paper Company.
  • Parks and Recreation has the episode "Bowling for Votes", where Leslie hosts an appearance at the bowling alley as part of her campaign for city council (and to show up someone who criticized her in a focus group). The B-Plot has Ron being embarrassed watching Tom's childish double-handed split leg throw style, but at the end, he gives the style a try and actually bowls a perfect 300 game, but he refuses any honors.
  • Veronica Mars: Season three features a painful-if-you've-been-in-this-situation "not a date" bowling episode.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode "Blind Ambition," Mort Goldman bowls a perfect game.
    • In the episode "Total Recall," part of the B-Plot is Lois taking Peter's place on his bowling team after Peter gets badly sick.
  • The Flintstones has bowling as the standard diversion for Fred and Barney. Their prowess is usually quite good while sometimes it can be disastrous.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: And fittingly enough, the episode's name is The Big Lablooski.
  • Futurama 1000 years in the future, bowling seems unchanged.
  • Heckle and Jeckle: "Ten Pin Terrors" had the boys' sleep disrupted by the bowling going on in a bowling alley. It certainly doesn't help that their digs are in the cellar below the bowling alley.
  • Hey Arnold!: Arnold and Gerald form a bowling team for a competitive league in "Coach Wittenburg".
  • The Huckleberry Hound Show: The cartoon "Ten Pin Alley" has Huck in a championship tournament against the popular (albeit villainous) Powerful Pierre. Huck wins after Pierre gets hoist on his own petard.
  • King of the Hill: In one episode Peggy is afraid to go bowling since her embarrassing shoe size would be displayed on the heel.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Daffy has a bowling team consisting with his old gang of high school losers Porky (who was the school jock and Daffy's bully), Marvin the Martian, and Pete Puma. Bugs joins despite Daffy's dismay as well.
  • The Mr. Men Show: The episode "Games" had a segment where Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Stubborn went bowling.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Cutie Mark Crusaders attempt to get bowling cutie marks at the start of "The Cutie Pox". Their success ranges from gutterballs to everyone ducking for cover with ricocheting balls flying about. Walter, The Dude, and Jesus Quintana have cameos as background ponies.
  • Popeye: "Strikes, Spares 'N' Spinach" (1960) had Brutus trying to sabotage Popeye and Olive's bowling date.
  • Regular Show: Skips Strikes. In typical RS fashion, the game's stakes are taken ridiculously high thanks to Rigby betting the team's souls in a bowling match against Death and his accomplices. All for a soul-filled bowling ball to rub in people's faces. Everyone gets a chance to beat on him for it.
  • Rocko's Modern Life has the episode "Gutter Balls", in which Ed Bighead invites Rocko and his pals to a bowling tournament in order to win the trophy he missed his chance of earning after an unfortunate incident in his last tournament long ago.
  • The Roman Holidays had an episode where Gus was torn between bowling in a tournament and attending his daughter Precocia's recital.
  • In the Rugrats episode, "King Ten Pin", Grandpa Lou enters a bowling championship and competes against Billy "Strike" Maxwell, who beat him in a game fifteen years before the episode's events. When the babies wander off to look for a "Champion Chip", which they believe is a giant chocolate chip cookie, they inadvertently expose Maxwell as a cheater.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Lightning Bowler Society", after 80 consecutive defeats from Team Sonic, the Lightning Bolt Society takes up bowling, and competes against Team Sonic, who become the "Pin Dashers". After beating the Pin Dashers in a game, the Lightning Bolt Society become instant celebrities.
  • Tom and Jerry had two bowling episodes. "Bowling Alley Cat" (1942 theatrical cartoon) was a standard T&J confrontation in a bowling alley, while "Super Bowler" (1975 made for TV episode) had the two competing against each other in a tournament (some of Tom's bowling movements were rotoscoped from "Bowling Alley Cat").

Alternative Title(s): Bowling Episode