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Carried by the Host

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A trope of Game Shows, Magazine Shows and similar. This is where the host or other regular "character" in such a show manages to add far more to a show than would be expected; expect a ton of Periphery Demographic in any show that manages to evoke this. Related to Ensemble Dark Horse, but separate as it tends to involve the closest things such shows have to a central character (although it can sometimes involve a side star).

If the star is replaced by someone else (even temporarily) expect invocations of Replacement Scrappy, They Changed It, Now It Sucks! and Fanon Discontinuity (as close as a nonfiction show can get anyway).


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    Game Shows 
  • Cash Cab is literally driven by Ben Bailey.
    • Or Adam Growe in Canada.
  • Roy Walker of Catchphrase. When he left the show, the show's popularity left with him and his replacement - Nick Weir, found himself with a broken leg mere seconds into his first recorded episode and was soon booted off after three series due to poor viewing figures. Mark Curry of Blue Peter fame replaced him for one series before the entire show was axed afterwards.
  • Richard O'Brien on The Crystal Maze.
    • Who was replaced by Ed Tudor-Pole for the last two series. Consensus among fans is that Tudor-Pole did a good job, but was no O'Brien.
  • Deal or No Deal wouldn't be half as much fun without Howie Mandel. Or Noel Edmonds. Or Andrew O'Keefe.
    • Although Stephen Mulhern in 2023 has brought the UK version a lot of fans whom Noel's presence turned off.
  • Marc Summers of Nickelodeon's Double Dare.
    • Possibly made more awesome because Summers suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and no one at the time would've guessed even though Double Dare was not what one would call a, erm, clean game show...
    • It was even worse with his later show What Would You Do? which was just as messy but had no set format. Furthermore in the last segment of the show (where they would put cards with various stunts on people's heads and they would have to either do the stunt or visit the various pie contraptions) they always gave Marc the messiest thing they could think of. There's a reason why they usually ran out of time before they got to him...
  • Richard Dawson, and later Ray Combs, both were immensely popular hosts on Family Feud, and each brought a lot to the program. Successors Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, and John O'Hurley, on the other hand, provided excellent foils, as the show failed to recapture its former popularity with the three hosts. Come Steve Harvey's turn in 2010, however, coinciding with a raunchier change of tone with the survey questions and answers, and the show is now the second-highest program in syndication.
  • The Golden Shot was hugely popular when Bob Monkhouse was hosting it, but nobody else could ever get it to work.
  • Nickelodeon GUTS wouldn't be the same without Mike O'Malley and Moira Quirk, and it really showed with My Family's Got GUTS, where Ben Lyons and Asha Kuerten replaced them. Though the former duo weren't working for Nickelodeon at the time, and Asha was praised by some fans for equalling Moira.
  • Robert Llewellyn on Scrapheap Challenge.
  • For most people, Jeopardy! just isn't the same without Alex Trebek (at least since it was Uncanceled in The '80s).
  • Knightmare features Hugo Myatt presenting in character as dungeon master Tregard.
  • Olmec of Legends of the Hidden Temple, much more so than the actual (rather mediocre) MC, Kirk Fogg. The producers acknowledged this by giving the job of reading the Rules Spiels for the various challenges to Olmec rather than Fogg starting with the second series.note 
  • The '70s revival of Match Game was all over this trope, taking what could have been a boring parlor game and putting it into the hands of six celebrities and emcee Gene Rayburn, all of whom were much more interesting to watch with their antics than the actual game they were playing. Even better were episodes to be shown later in the week (apparently, the shows for a week were all shot on one day, and somewhere around Wednesday's show everyone took a lunch break... for the celebrity panel, there were often three, four or five martini lunch breaks, and it showed through the increasingly anarchic behavior of those installments...)
    • The Comedy Network reboot definitely gets a boost from both host Darrin Rose (who, impressively, doubles as announcer), as well as Debra Digiovanni and Sean Cullen, the only permanent panelists.
    • The various presenters of the otherwise cheap British adaptation Blankety Blank all made the show work. Sir Terry Wogan, then deadpan snarker Les Dawson, and finally acid-tongued Scouse drag artist Paul O'Grady, all made a virtue of the show's legendary cheapness and the unbelievably cheap and tacky prizes the members of the public were fighting for.
  • No one but Peter Tomarken could host Press Your Luck, but Todd Newton came pretty damn close with Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck.
    • Peter Tomarken almost hosted Whammy!. GSN filmed two pilots: one featuring Peter Tomarken and the other featuring Todd Newton. Just think about What Could Have Been.
  • The Price Is Right. The seasons with Bob Barker were carried by him and has a very different feel than the seasons with Drew Carey. The version with a third host is almost unknown to people who have not seen it or read this wiki.
  • The NBC version of The Singing Bee had some mediocre success with host Joey Fatone. However, when the show channel hopped to CMT, they hired stand up comic Melissa Peterman. It's been more successful, notably since Peterman's charisma is able to cover when a contestant is nervous, too quiet, or simply dull.
  • Jenny McCarthy and Singled Out. The show only lasted a season and a half after her departure, despite being replaced by Carmen Electra.
  • Takeshi's Castle. Watching people falling in mud and injuring themselves: funny. Watching them do it to Craig Charles' commentary: hysterical.
  • ABC's Wipeout: John Henson and John Anderson's commentary is as funny as watching the contestants trip and fall. And it is now clear that Jill Wagner as the interviewer was seriously underestimated, as her replacement isn't nearly as good.
    • Total Wipeout (the UK version, airing on BBC) itself may count too. It's hosted by Richard Hammond, and his snark makes watching the contestants fail miserably even funnier.
    • The Swedish Wipeout also would be nowhere as good without its hilarious hosts.
  • In Australia, there was practically a national outcry (among people of a certain age group, anyway) when "Baby" John Burgess was dropped as host of Wheel of Fortune.
    • Stateside, Pat Sajak's sharp wit and overall charisma and the ridiculous popularity of Vanna White have played a large part in what made Wheel the 30+ year success that it is. Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford also have their share of fans.
  • Regis Philbin for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, in spite of the show having lasted almost four times as long with successors Meredith Vieira and Cedric the Entertainer.
    • Also applies to the German version. The host, Günther Jauch, is probably the most popular person in this country.
    • And also Chris Tarrant makes the British version of the show what it is. The guy knows a heck of a lot, and never gives anything away with his "Is that your final answer?" When he decided to quit the series, the producers felt he couldn't be replaced and the series was cancelled.
  • Win Ben Stein's Money was carried by the father/son-like relationship between Ben Stein and Jimmy Kimmel. When Kimmel left, it went downhill in a hurry.
  • No one ever, ever, tuned into the original You Bet Your Life for game value; they tuned in to watch Groucho Marx be, well, Groucho Marx.
  • Just about any show hosted by Bill Cullen that wasn't the original Price is Right. Most of the shows he was associated with went off the air in a year or less (Winning Streak, Hot Potato, ChildsPlay, etc.) but he was such a phenomenal host that he made even the most mediocre game format watchable. It should be noted, however, that many of the shows that he hosted that did end up failing generally ended up doing so as a result of getting Screwed by the Network, not because of any formatting flaws. The lone exception, Blockbusters (which also qualifies), got a much longer run in the UK, but had a much shorter run a second time in the US (with successor Bill Rafferty).
  • The German Wetten Dass... was carried by the second host, Thomas Gottschalk. In the zero's, he was replaced with an other host, which let the ratings drop dramatically. He returned, and everything was well again.
    • After a dramatic incident (see it here), he left the show for good. They took lessons from the last time, and changed a lot about the show, to prevent his successor from becoming a Replacement Scrappy.
    • Which is precisely what happened anyway. It took Gottschalk's successor less than a year to ruin the show in the eyes of most viewers and the critics.
  • Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego was made memorable entirely due to its terrific cast: Greg Lee, Lynne Thigpen, and, of course, Rockapella. Only Thigpen carried over to Sequel Series Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego, which is the main reason that show is widely considered inferior.
  • Friend or Foe? just wouldn't have been the same without Kennedy's snarking at anyone who went Foe, as repeatedly proven by numerous other game shows which have since used the same prisoner's dilemma gimmick, every last one of which has fallen flat on their faces.
  • The Chase wouldn't be anywhere near as entertaining without the Chasers themselves and their own comments and quips about the contestants and show itself. Or presenter Bradley Walsh and his own jokes and comments (and the tendency to burst into laughter or such like whenever someone says anything entertaining). This is also likely why the US version didn't try and find a US equivalent quiz genius and simply hired Mark Labbett from the UK version to act as the Chaser on that version of the show as well.
    • It's also likely why the Australian one brought over Anne Hegerty as one of the Chasers, and then brought in Mark Labbett a few years later.
  • Fifteen total years, four Emmys, a slew of awesome and funny moments, and no less than three relatively unsuccessful revivals all add up to one universal game show truth: Only Dick Clark can host Pyramid.
    • Unless your name is Bill Cullen (see above), whose version lasted a respectable five years alongside Clark's in the late 1970s.
    • And Michael Strahan is also shaping up to be a good successor.
  • Peter Marshall will always be the master of The Hollywood Squares. Tom Bergeron would prove to be a close second later on.
  • Allen Ludden, called "Mr. Password" for a reason. The man guided the series through various network and format changes for all of two decades. His successors — Tom Kennedy, Bert Convy, and Regis Philbin — proved to not be quite as popular (though not without their fans).
  • Not only is Let's Make a Deal Monty Hall's signature series, but Hall himself is Deal's signature host. Bob Hilton and Billy Bush... not so much. Hilton's version lasted one season; Bush's, five episodes (three of which aired). Hilton was actually replaced by Hall for his version's final weeks in a last-ditch attempt to save the show (which didn't work).
    • Wayne Brady is rapidly proving himself as another example.
  • Strike It Lucky didn't last long in the US, and when it went to the UK the prizes tended to suck. But that didn't matter- people tuned into see the weird contestants and, of course, Mr. Michael Barrymore.

    Panel Shows 
  • Angus Deayton, the original chairman of Have I Got News for You, remains popular among fans of the show, several years after being sacked for personal indiscretions. While the rotating guest hosts have produced many popular replacements, there is still a considerable segment that wants Angus back full time.
    • Meanwhile, it's nigh impossible to imagine the show without Ian Hislop (who's never missed an episode) or Paul Merton (who took the eleventh series off and has noted, as have others, that the show picked up somewhat after that little experiment).
  • Humphrey Lyttelton was I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue to such an extent that his death in 2008 and subsequent replacement by Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon and Jack Dee has elicited all of the complaints listed above. It's still good, but it's definitely not the same.
  • Nicholas Parsons, host of Just a Minute, and until his death in January 2020 the last surviving original participant. Over the years, the show has seen many, many different panellists and their personal styles, but they've all made fun of the chairman, and he's always lampshaded it.
  • Simon Amstell and/or team captains Phil Jupitus and Bill Bailey on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
    • Being put to the test now that Amstell and Bailey have both left the show.
    • Ten years ago, it was being carried by Jupitus, Mark Lamarr and Sean Hughes, and the thought of continuing once Lamarr and Hughes left provoked the same reaction.
  • Talkin' 'bout Your Generation wouldn't be half as fun without Shaun Micallef. What would normally be a bland family-oriented quiz show ends up hilarious due to the Shaun's Post Modern Pythonesque insanity.
  • Peter Segal and Carl Kasell pretty much define Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, so much so that Kasell still does the show even after retiring from newscasting in 2009.
  • QI had first Stephen Fry and subsequently Sandi Toksvig, along with permanent panellist Alan Davies. Davies once missed a show, and they left his seat empty rather than replace him.

    Reality Shows 
  • The Amazing Race just wouldn't be same without Phil Keoghan.
  • Viewing of American Idol dropped drastically every time judges were replaced. When Simon left to run the American version of X-Factor in 2016, Idol ran its final episode.
  • Anderson Cooper on the first two seasons of The Mole. He was by far one of the funniest and most charming game show/reality show hosts out there. He also gets bonus points for being one of the only hosts witty enough to spot Reality Show Genre Blindness and tease the contestants for it. Not-so-shockingly, he's currently one of the most-respected broadcast journalists in the world.
  • Jeff Probst is this for Survivor. For a show that loses many viewers each season due to having too similar concepts each season, many people continue watching it partly because of Probst.
  • The Swedish Expedition: Robinson (the original Survivor) has gotten this in Paolo Roberto, who took over as host in 2009. Roberto's no-nonsense attitude (like when he chews one tribe out and basically calls them morons for not having learned how to make fire before going on the show) has quickly become a favorite for most viewers, as has his various quirks such as the way he bellows "Köööööööööööööööööör" (means "go") to signal the start of any competition. Well, the guy did beat the crap out of a seven-foot behemoth who's immune to pain.
  • Dave Lamb carries the UK version of Come Dine With Me — and that's as a voiceover without ever appearing on screen.
  • Gordon Ramsay may be the patron saint of this trope. What popular cooking and restaurant shows spring immediately to mind? In the US, three featuring Ramsay — Hell's Kitchen, MasterChef, and Kitchen Nightmares — will place high on the list, and Ramsay's profanity-laden tirades followed by occasional heartwarming praise are both famous. As of 2015, MasterChef US is on its fifth season without signs of slowing down, the US version of Hell's Kitchen has an impressive 13 US seasons with a fourteenth confirmed, and Kitchen Nightmares managed a respectable 5 UK seasons and 7 US seasons before Ramsay chose to shut it down. Despite the show's success, there was no attempt to revive it with a different key chef. It's not just the US, either. Ramsay has versions of his shows in other nations, including his native England. Even non-fans will immediately recognize Ramsay's mannerisms and speech patterns. Only his flop, Hotel Hell, didn't seem to survive on Ramsay's larger-than-life persona. Say what one will about whether he is as great a chef as his reputation would suggest; Ramsay has an amazing television presence.
  • Project Runway is heavily reliant on the personas of Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (and maybe to a lesser degree Nina Garcia, Michael Kors and/or Zac Posen). The absence of their personalities makes the All-Stars incarnation of the show much less interesting.
  • Most fans of Gran Hermano (the Spanish version of Big Brother) can attest that the show hasn't quite felt the same since original hostess Mercedes Milá decided to leave it behind for good after series 16, in 2015, and was replaced by Jorge Javier Vázquez. Before that, Milá had been replaced by Pepe Navarro for series 3, with a Replacement Scrappy reaction similar to the one Vázquez is getting now that led to the station promptly bringing Milá back for series 4.
    • Talking of Jorge Javier Vázquez, he is considered to be much better on the Spanish version of Survivor, Supervivientes. It's a three-hour marathon each episode, and Jorge's aptitude for live TV helps viewers forget just how much filler there actually is.

  • Bob Saget on America's Funniest Home Videos (though they try to make it seem like Tom Bergeron was always there these days...)
    • The British version, You've been Framed, was pretty much so-so and just cheap infill on an early Saturday evening, before the good stuff started—like the above mentioned Catch Phrase. And then off-the-wall comedian Harry Hill took over doing the commentary and voiceovers. It's now the Harry Hill Show, with background film provided by members of the public.
  • Dominic Diamond on GamesMaster (also notable for Season 3 being considered along the lines of Canon Discontinuity for him being replaced by Dexter Fletcher for that season).
  • Both the Japanese and American incarnations of Iron Chef, with Chairman Kaga and the Japanese commentators/Alton Brown respectively. Gordon Elliott (in the IC Japan New York special) and William Shatner (the doomed Iron Chef USA) have both tried to fill the host role—the former failed, the latter was damned awesome but got hamstrung by UPN's typical idiocy.
  • MythBusters owes most of its success to the dynamic duo that is Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. (The Power Trio of the Build Team have their own unique personalities that are also interesting to watch.) The short-lived show "Smash Lab" tried to replicate the explosions and large-scale experiments similar to MythBusters, but failed because the hosts weren't nearly as entertaining when constructing the giant engineering project of the week.
    • The two shows had a fundemental difference as well: MythBusters was about trying to prove or disprove a myth, while Smash Lab was mostly about creating solutions in search of problems.
    • A show that manages to get it right, but not quite as perfect as MythBusters is Time Warp as the two hosts actually knew the science behind most of what they were talking about and also had interesting personalities to help keep viewers from getting bored.
    • Interestingly, the MythBusters were originally encouraged to emulate the onscreen dynamics of another popular Discovery Channel show, American Chopper (itself a prime example of this trope; the show has long since been more about family drama than anything to do with motorcycles). They eventually refused to keep acting this way, and their popularity has only waxed since.
  • Joel McHale of The Soup.
  • Tom from Cartoon Network's Toonami. When he was replaced with TOM 4, you just knew Toonami was in trouble.
    • At least they learned from their mistake, since when Toonami was revived on [adult swim], Tom was redesigned to be much more like the original.
  • Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond on Top Gear. And The Stig, of course. Both Clarkson and May presented Old Top Gear before it was canceled, though not at the same time.
  • Unsolved Mysteries was never the same without Robert Stack.
  • Former driver Martin Brundle's commentaries for Formula One racing are noted by many as being one of the main reasons to watch in many English speaking countries. He's even got his own appreciation blog.
    • Brundle's case is helped that he was a former racing driver and is very insightful in how the sport runs. Not only that, he worked alongside the legendary Murray Walker, who was known for his high enthusiasm and making amusing mistakes in the heat of the moment. This meant that as Brundle wasn't a replacement for Murray, people had time to grow used to him. Played straight with James Allen and Jonathan Legard, they are accomplished commentators in their own right; but they just can't match up to Murray's personality.
  • Many American Whose Line Is It Anyway? fans feel this way about Drew Carey, has his interactions with Ryan and Colin were often the best part of the show. Aisha Tyler hasn't had nearly as much luck.
    • Clive Anderson, the host of the British version, is also this to many fans. Several find him to be superior to both American hosts.
  • Dirty Jobs would be at best mildly entertaining without Mike Rowe at the helm.
  • Dragon Tales has an in-universe example. The characters play a game of Simon Says hosted by a friendly gnome named Simon. When you get right down to it, it's really not much different from a traditional game of Simon Says, but boy does Simon work to sell it.
  • It's generally accepted that, aside from the general improvement in the standards of the competitors and higher production values, the thing that really made the second season of Robot Wars take off was replacing Jeremy Clarkson (who was deadpan and often quite rude to the contestants) with Craig Charles as host (it helped that, while Clarkson genuinely didn't like the show, Craig's bombastic enthusiasm simply couldn't be faked). Whether Dara Ó Briain has managed to live up to Craig's legacy in the show's 2016 reboot is a matter of some contention.
  • For a great many British viewers, the only reason to watch the Eurovision Song Contest was for Terry Wogan's acerbic commentary, to the point where the first words uttered by replacement commentator Graham Norton when the 2009 contest began were, "I know, I miss Terry too." This did not always endear him to viewers in other countries where the competition is, if not Serious Business, at least seen as something more than just silly.
  • The web series Rocketboom survived without Amanda Congdon?