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Even the easiest game shows require people to have at least a modicum of intelligence or common sense in order to compete. That's why an obvious way to parody the genre is to have contestants or panelists who are rock-stupid. Doing this has been a source of humor since the advent of the first game shows on radio in the 1920s.
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Idiot relation to the Status Quo Game Show trope. If the game show is of the deadly variety, these contestants may actually be Too Dumb to Live.

Please note that while there have been many instances of real people embarrassing themselves on real game shows in Real Life, this trope applies to In-Universe Examples Only.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • The Comcast Cable/Satellite Mudslinging commercial features contestants on a red team and a blue team competing on a TV Game Show called "You Might Think DirectTV Has More HD Than Comcast But You're Wrong". Despite being the name of the game show they're in, when the red team is asked which has more HD programming in some city (and a voice-over announcer repeating sotto voce the fact that they should know this), they still get it wrong.

    Comic Strips 
  • Pearls Before Swine:
    • Double subverted in one story arc, starting here, where Larry competes on Jeopardy!. While he's an idiot, he does better than everyone expects due to having subconsciously absorbed a lot of information from falling asleep while watching TV documentaries, even if his critical thinking skills are sub-par. However, he loses on Final Jeopardy due to being unable to spell.
    • One week of strips centers around a Wheel of Fortune episode where the contestants are Andy Capp (who brings a pint to the show and has nearly finished it by the end of the first puzzle), one of the cavemen from B.C. (who's more interested in proselytizing than competing), and Larry. None of them are shown getting a single question right, Andy and the caveman get in multiple fights, and Larry sits on the wheel at one point because he wants to "go for ride".
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    Live-Action Television 
  • The Amanda Show: The recurring sketch "So You Wanna Win Five Dollars" is a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? parody with extremely easy questions that the contestants (the other recurring characters on the show) never get right. The host frequently gets fed up and asks who even picked the contestants.
    • The clearest example is when Totally Kyle gets on the show and answers a series of rapid-fire questions in stupid ways: he responds to "Name any color" with "seven," says the opposite of hot is "Way hot," and replies to "What planet do you live on?" with "False!" He only gets one question close to right:
      Host: What's the matter with you?!
      Kyle: So many things.
    • When Tony Pajamas was a contestant, rather than answer a single question, he kept asking the host to order him a pizza, and used his phone lifeline to call a pizza restaurant.
    • One contestant wasn't one of the recurring characters, but a normal guy played by Drake who uses his phone lifeline to ask his electrician dad for help on a question related to the field. The show then accidentally called recurring character Mr. Oldman instead of the contestant's dad, which led to hilarity ensuing.
    • The Judge Trudy appearance subverted this. She actually gets most of the questions right, but when she does get one wrong, she flips out and "overrules" the host by insisting she's right.
  • The Golden Girls subverted this in an episode where Dorothy was trying to get on Jeopardy!. She has a dream where she competes against Rose and Charlie Dietz from Empty Nest, and assumes the game will be a breeze since both of them are morons. However, the categories all have something to do with farm animals or hot babes, which are Rose and Charlie's specialties respectively. For Final Jeopardy, when prompted on who was buried in Grant's tomb, Charlie draws a stick figure and Rose guesses it was Cary Grant. Dorothy laughs it off, assuming it was obviously Ulysses S. Grant...but then Alex Trebek gives the prize to Rose, as Cary Grant was the answer. And when Dorothy tries to argue with Jeopardy creator Merv Griffin, he not only affirms the selection but praises Charlie's answer as a "fine portrait" of Cary Grant!
    • The earlier episode “Grab That Dough” played it straight, however, with the four women going on the titular (fictional) game show. Blanche convinces Dorothy to ditch Rose and Sophia and team up instead with the Kaplan Brothers, who are hyped up to be the smartest contestants on-set. Then when the actual game commences, one Kaplan brother, Leonard, buzzes in repeatedly on accident (while ostensibly not knowing any answers) while the other Kaplan brother never buzzes in at all. Finally Leonard buzzes in intentionally in response to the question, “Who is the current Secretary of State?”... and gives the answer Charles Schulz.
    Dorothy: He created Peanuts!
    Leonard: I thought that was George Washington Carver!
    Dorothy: Leonard... don’t ever touch your buzzer again.
  • Played with on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In the episode "The Gang Go On Family Fight," Dennis tries to keep the gang under control when they are contestants on a Family Feud Expy. They frustrate the host by giving bizarre answers, Dee trying to give inappropriate double entendres, and Mac trying to steal his lines. Yet they still end up doing well, especially when Frank gives a series of good answers at the end; Ironically Dennis then blows it.
  • Muppets Tonight featured a short game show segment titled "Swift Wits" where contestants were given a simple secret word to guess or else Big Mean Carl would eat an animal. However, nearly all the contestants were too stupid to have even a remote chance of winning. Two insisted on one answer, one refused to answer at all because they had gotten his name wrong, one (a pair of twins) kept spouting off generic answers and not listening, and in the last sketch, even when the word was given, the contestant mistook it for a clue. By the fourth sketch, even the host was getting tired of having idiots on the show.
  • Saturday Night Live has frequently employed this trope during its long run.
    • The best-known example is the recurring "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketch where an exasperated Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) has to regularly contend with celebrity contestants who are either blissfully ignorant, self-absorbed, or—in the case of Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)—belligerent and antagonistic. The categories start off normal, but quickly turn into childish and blatantly easy stuff like "Colors That End In 'Urple'" and "The Number After 2", and categories with no clues whatsoever like "Automatic Points" and "I Have a Chardonnay" (the latter additionally allowing Trebek to have a glass of wine).
    • In "Should You Chime In On This?", the contestants are uninformed loudmouths who are asked to refrain from adding their opinions on a given topic. Despite the promise of prize money, they prove themselves incapable of keeping their thoughts to themselves.
      Host: We bring out three idiots and give them hot button-issues, and ask them, "should you chime in on this?" The answer should always be "no".
    • "Where'd Your Money Go?" is a game show where professional athletes, "the world's most ignorant millionaires", are asked if they should pursue a series of ludicrous financial ventures. Once again, the host spells out that the answer should always be "no" - and once again he is completely ignored by the contestants.
    • The recurring sketch "What's Wrong With This Picture?" brings some very strange, sometimes perverse contestants on to find a logical problem with a cartoon image. The puzzles are easy enough for a child to solve, but the contestants completely misunderstand the exercise. (The first sketch justifies the poor choice of contestants by noting they were the only ones available "at 2 P.M. on a weekday.") For example, an image depicts a woman looking in a mirror, with the obvious mistake being that she wears a belt and her reflection does not. The contestants' guesses for what's wrong with the picture include "She's four years old and the boobies grew too fast," "Her twin's in that fish tank and she can't get out," and "She just did blackface and got away with it."
  • SCTV also used this trope in their game show spoofs. One was called "Half Wits" which, as the title indicated, featured contestants who plumbed the depths of human stupidity to such a degree that the host (played by Eugene Levy) would explode in anger at the show's end.

    Magazines 
  • Private Eye has a recurring column called "Dumb Britain", listing the stupidest answers given to recent quiz show questions (for example, one contestant was asked "What is the term for a place you can discuss issues online or in Ancient Rome?", and they answered "A chatroom.")

    Music 
  • The "Weird Al" Yankovic parody song "I Lost on Jeopardy" details how Al went on the Jeopardy! game show, and washed out massively, ending with a negative total. Even Don Pardo had to comment on this abysmal failure.
    Don Pardo: You don't get to come back tomorrow. You don't even get a lousy copy of our home game. You're a complete loser!

    Newspapers 
  • In Dave Barry's column parodying Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, the first question is: "For $100, which of the following letters is NOT really a letter? (A) 'A'; (B) 'B'; (C) 'C'; or (D) The Grand Canyon." The contestant struggles to come up with the obviously correct "final answer" (Regis says he gets paid $25,000 each time he says that), allowing the overdramatic music to go on and the contestant to use a lifeline to call his mother (who gives absolutely no help because she was in the middle of watching The X-Files), and only comes up with "D" after even his (not abnormally intelligent) dog gets it.
    Walter: Regis, I am just not sure what the answer is. But I am really getting off on calling you Regis, Regis.
    Regis: As you know, Walter, you have three lifelines: You can poll the audience; you can make a phone call; or you can have me shout the correct answer out loud, like this: "IT'S 'D,' YOU MORON!"

    Radio 
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     Webcomics 
  • Chainsawsuit: One strip features an Immoral Reality Show called "Knife Room". Despite the fact that going into the Knife Room apparently means instant death, and that there are no rewards whatsoever for trying to enter, one contestant is still unsure whether or not she wants to go in.

     Web Video 
  • Scott The Woz's episode on game show games starts with him messing up as a contestant on "Say That Answer!"
    Host: What city—
    Scott: [buzzes in] Pass!
    Host: —is best known for entertainment—
    Scott: [buzzes in] South Carolina!
    Host: —besides Hollywood?
    Scott: Oh, a city...[buzzes in] South America!
    [cut to Scott in his room]
    Scott: Hey all, Scott here. I'm an idiot.
    • He then proceeds to flop at all the game show games (including Jeopardy!, Family Feud, and Wheel of Fortune), often buzzing in too early or providing ill-fitting answers just as he did on Say That Answer. On the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? game, he wastes all his lifelines on the first question, refuses to trust the answer that 82% of the audience picked, and loses the game immediately. This comes back to bite him when he returns to compete on Say That Answer! and they ask him what the second question of that game was.
  • The SuperMarioLogan episode, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Episode 1" has two examples:
    • Mario is the first contestant, and his first question is "In what year was the game Super Mario Bros. released for the Nintendo Entertainment System?", with the four answers being A. 1994, B. 1991, C. 1985, and D. 1942. Brooklyn T. Guy expects this question to be too easy for Mario, but Mario is actually having a hard time answering this question. He first uses his 50:50 lifeline to eliminate two of the wrong answers, leaving him with C. 1985 and D. 1942, then he answers D. 1942, losing the game as a result.
    • Black Yoshi is the second contestant, and his first question is "How is a popsicle generally served?", with the four answers being A. In a cone, B. On a bun, C. On a stick and D. On wheat toast. Black Yoshi uses all three of his lifelines just to answer this simple question, but still correctly guesses C. On a stick. His second question is "A sprinkler system protects a building against what?", and two of the answers shown are A. Fire and B. Burglary. Before C and D's answers are even shown, Black Yoshi answers B. Burglary, believing that when burglars break-in, they will activate the sprinkler system, causing them to slip on the water and injure themselves. This answer results in him losing the game and what little money he could have won.

     Western Animation 
  • In the Animaniacs episode, "Fair Game", Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are contestants on Quiz Me Quick, a game show hosted by Ned Flatt. The Warners drive Ned crazy by guessing "Isaac Newton" before he even has the chance to ask the question. When Ned finally does get to ask the question, "Who first identified the laws of gravity?", the Warners actually have a hard time answering it (Yakko even answers "Corey Spelling"). To get the game over with quicker, Ned sends Wakko to the lightning round, where the goal is to solve a puzzle (Eyes+Tack-T Newt+Ton). Wakko keeps guessing wrong (Isaac Newtweight, Isaac Newtheavy, Isaac Newtanvil, and Isaac Newttrapezoid), which leads to Ned telling him "Isaac Newton". This results in Ned winning the game and a six-month trip to the Rock of Gibraltar, which he doesn't even want. Of course, the Warners' main gimmick is screwing with people anyway.
  • Family Guy:
    • One episode has Peter be a contestant on "Wheel Of Fortune". When he goes to solve the puzzle, his selected letters are "Z, 4, Q, another Q, another Q, and the Batman symbol." Despite being told his selections are useless, Peter goes on to correctly guess the answer to be "Alex Karras In Webster."
    • Another episode has the Griffin family compete on an episode of Family Feud, where Peter answers "Name Something You Find In Your Bathroom" with "fetus in the toilet bowl" (appears onscreen as "Toilet Bowl"), and "Name Something You Like To Receive As A Gift" with "Picard's Flute". The last round has Peter answering "Name Something You Sit In" with "Chair" and other variations of it repeatedly despite Lois already giving that answer seconds earlier, costing him the win.
  • Futurama: When Fry is a contestant on Who Dares to Be a Millionaire? in "The Duh-Vinci Code", he fails on the first question: "What tool do you use to hammer a nail? A) a hammer, B) another nail..." and before the third choice is given, Fry declares "Another nail, final answer!"
  • Gravity Falls: When Stan appears on "Cash Wheel" (a pastiche of Wheel of Fortune) in "Boss Mabel," he immediately solves the first puzzle before the host even finishes announcing it, but loses all his millions on the final, extremely easy question. The word Stan had to guess was "please," which was stated earlier in the episode to give him a "burning sensation."
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode, "Heff in a Handbasket", Peaches the Dark Lord goads Heffer into competing on the Triple 6 game show in an attempt to claim his soul. On the show, Heffer has to score 666 points to win a trip to Heck, and Peaches even gives him 665 bonus points to make it easier for him. However, because of how dim he is, Heffer keeps losing points in the first three rounds. In Round One, he thinks that Hamburgers are made from ham, in Round Two, he answers "Sea Monkeys" before Peaches even has a chance to ask the question, and in Round Three, he thinks that a flat, round Italian dish with pepperoni is a calzone. Only by sheer luck does he win Round Four by correctly guessing "Big Fat Cow" before the wheel even stops spinning.
  • South Park: In "Jakovasaurs", Mayor Mc Daniels has Jakovasaur play against Officer Barbrady in a rigged game show to trick the former and his family into being sent away to France. Things do not go quite as planned, as Jakov is too dumb to play the game, while Barbrady is too dumb to let him win. After a lot of frustration from the situation, Mc Daniels just decides to declare Jakov to be the winner anyway.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "K-ACME TV", one of the sketches is called "Gyp-Parody", where Buster hosts the titular game show, and Elmyra Duff, Dizzy Devil, and Calamity Coyote are his contestants. None of the contestants are able to win anything; Calamity because even though he knew the question to every answer, he was never called upon because his buzzer was broken, Dizzy because he chose to eat his podium instead of giving questions, and Elmyra because she kept asking "What is a bunny?" for every answer except "This is the animal most associated with Easter", wherein she asked, "Who is George Washington?". The sketch ends with Elmyra's repeated blunders prematurely aging Buster into an old grey hare and Babs wheeling him away.
  • In the House of Mouse short "How to Be Smart", Goofy is on a quiz show, does miserably, and ends up following absurd instructions to make himself smarter. When he returns to the quiz show, he does much better but still has no idea on the final answer and only gets it by chance, as his blurting out "Heavens to Betsy" actually constituted the correct answer.
  • In The Flintstones episode "Divided We Sail," cast goofball Barney is a contestant on "The Prize is Priced" (a pastiche of...well, you know). An item up for bids was a fishing pole. Barney quips, "Well, I'll put my two cents in," and two cents was rung up as his bid. He winds up winning the pole and the bonus prize that came with it: a houseboat.

 
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Celebrity Jeopardy

Celebrities struggle to answer really easy questions

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