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Host: Each of the buttons on the Help Vest represents a different Lifeline that you can use, should you need it.
Contestant: It's burning me!
Host: It's burning you because it's filled with sensitive electronics that could help you win one million dollars! You can Text a Teacher, Borrow the Truth, Accuse a Parent, or Open up a Trap Door down to the Clue Chamber where you just might have to face... The Commissioner!! (dramatic orchestral sting)
MADtv sketch "One and a Million".

Rampant in TV game shows of the past decade since Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? debuted and essentially became the template for all big-money games that surfaced thereafter.

Basically, in any game show with only one contestant trying to win a massive prize, they are given limited-use assists that can be used at any time to aid their chances of winning. Generally, it's to stop players from bailing out at the first sign of trouble, as almost all of these shows include a rule where the contestant loses all or most of their winnings if they get so much as a single question wrong.

Not to be confused with Operator's Side, which is also known as Lifeline.


    Game Shows 
  • 1 vs. 100: During the game, the One could "Poll the Mob" (see how many of them gave a certain answer), "Ask the Mob" (have two of them - one being right and one being wrong - explain the reasoning for their answer), or "Trust the Mob" (automatically lock in the answer they most commonly gave).
    • The XBOX Live Arcade version of the show took the third help and extrapolated to "Trust the Mob" (as above), "Trust the Crowd" (lock in the answer most commonly given by everyone else playing) and "Trust the Top 10" (lock in what the 10 highest scoring players for the session had picked the most).
    • The GSN revival removed "Ask the Mob".
  • Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?: Players used "Cheats" that they could use that would incorporate the onstage kid's answer: "Peek" (look at the answer, but not be committed to it; the contestant had to answer, however), "Copy" (lock in the kid's answer as their own), or "Save" (get credited for a right answer if the player was wrong but the kid was right).
    • The Nickelodeon version included a "Final Cheat" in the Fifth Grade bonus round: use it on a question to confer with the last kid standing for the answer after all of the other questions are checked.
  • Cash Cab uses "Shout Outs": one where the passengers try to get the right answer from someone on their mobile phone, and another where they flag down a pedestrian to supply an answer.
    • In the revived version, there's a new "Shout-Out" called "Social Media Shout-Out", where Ben goes live on the Facebook page and let the Cash Cab fans join in to provide the answer.
  • The Cube offers two Lifelines: "Simplify", which makes the current challenge easier in some way (increasing the size of the target, for example), and "Trial Run", which allowed to player to practice the game once before deciding whether or not to risk it.
    • The American version, hosted by 13-time NBA All Star and 3-time champion Dwayne Wade, uses Wade as a Lifeline instead of "Trial Run"; called "One Shot", Wade gets, well, one shot to attempt the challenge on behalf of the contestant (or one teammate, in two-player games), with the same stakes for success or failure.
  • The revival of the British series Crackerjack allows the contestants who reach its final round (a reworked "Double or Drop" game) to pass up to two questions by shouting "Cabbages!" This comes at the expense of having to hold additional cabbages during the round; if the contestant drops any cabbages, they are out of the game. Useful if they are running out of time to answer (the time is represented by the contestants moving backwards along a conveyor belt, and any contestant who falls off the back is also out).
    • The above is a nod to the "Double or Drop" game in the original series, where the contestants had to hold on to an increasing collection of objects, with a cabbage added for an incorrect answer; a contestant who dropped any item or accrued three cabbages was out.
  • On Deal or No Deal the contestant has the ability to counter-offer once during the game (beginning with the 2018 revival). By doing so, the Banker has the final say in whether or not the counter-offer can be accepted; if it is accepted, the game ends and the contestant goes home with the amount of money that they declared. If the counter-offer was rejected, the game continues and the contestant is forced to open additional briefcases.
  • Duel: One contestant can use a "press" (known as an "accelerator" in the British version) to force his or her opponent to answer the question within a predetermined amount of time (usually 7 seconds). However, it could only be used by one contestant at a time, after he or she locked in his or her answers. Each contestant was prescribed two presses per duel (except in the second season of the American version, where the amount of presses that could be used by a contestant was reduced to one).
  • Don't Forget the Lyrics! had assists called "Backups": One allowed you to see three choices of the correct lyrics, another filled in any two of the missing words that you wanted, and the third allowed you to bring up a friend to sing the lyrics instead. The daytime version of the show only uses the "three lines" Backup available.
    • The 2022 FOX version only features Backup Singer and a new (updated) help: Three Words, which allows a maximal total of three words to be revealed one at a time, at any time in any song.
  • The ABC quiz Downfall (2010) had contestants answering questions as the prizes they tried to win were sent down a conveyor belt off a 100-foot building. If elimination seems imminent, they can push the "panic button" in front of them, which resets the belt (without the prizes), and places either a personal item or a loved one on the belt in front of the cash prize for that level. (The loved one can help answer questions up until they drop off the belt.)
  • Greed: A Freebie was awarded to teams who reached the $200,000 question, at which point each question had four right answers from at least six choices. The Freebie removed one wrong answer from the choices, and ended up being used on the next question almost every time due to the heavy use of surveys and other subjective material for those questions.
  • Identity: Had three helps; "Tri-dentity", which reduced the number of options to three; "Ask the Experts", which allowed a panel of experts on body language to weigh in, and "Mistaken Identity", which was essentially a free miss before the player lost it all. Of course, if there were only two identities left, you couldn't use it.
  • The extremely short-lived It's Your Chance of a Lifetime also had helps called "Second Chances". One reduced the question to a three-way multiple choice, while the other switched the question out for one from the contestant's pre-selected favorite category. Contestants that reached the final three questions were allowed to use either one of these a second time as a "Last Chance".
  • Million Dollar Mind Game had its own set of three which could be used after the team captain locked in an answer. One allowed the team to throw out the question and replace it with a new one. The second allowed any member of the team to override the team captain's answer at the last minute. The third gave them 30 seconds of extra discussion time (and unlike Million Dollar Money Drop below, the questions were designed so that the team might actually need that extra time), at the end of which the team captain could give a new answer to override the original one.
  • Million Dollar Money Drop offers the lamest of the bunch by a longshot: a "Quick Change", which allows the couple an additional 30 seconds (after their initial complement of 60 expires) to move their money onto a different answer; this was automatically triggered if none of the drop zones were left empty. Considering that they still have to place all their money on the drop zones while leaving one empty, and that all the questions were from the Greed school of surveys and magazine opinions instead of objective facts, all it did was give them more time to think about the question.
  • Moment of Truth: The hopefuls were called upon to answer highly embarrassing and potentially damaging questions about themselves (affairs and past crimes were common subjects). A big glowing button was situated in front of the family and friends' lounge; which could be used (at their mercy, but only once during the game) to switch the question if they were feeling too uncomfortable with the current one.
  • Pak De Poen De Show Van 1 Miljoen had one in 1987 during the final round of the game, where the contestant could switch out the number of the card designated by a board in exchange for another one designated by themselves. Ten years before Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? debuted.
  • The Price Is Right has the original lifeline: the audience is (for the most part) allowed to yell out suggestions to the contestant playing a pricing game or bidding on a prize.
    • The Clock Game being one of the exceptions, as the audience is shown the price on a concealed monitor as the contestant is trying to guess the price.
  • Das Quiz mit Jörg Pilawa: Mostly done in the form of your teammate: since the two team members alternate answering questions, once an answer is locked in by the playing member, the other one gets to decide whether to accept the answer or use a "Veto" to reject it and choose a different answer. The team gets four Vetos at the beginning of the game, one of which can be used to switch the question instead.
    • The star-studded Spin-Off, appropriately titled StarQuiz, which sees two teams of two celebrities play at a time, features two helps for each team: "Zweite Chance" (Second Chance, basically Double Dip from Super Millionaire) and "Schieben" (Push, which merely discards the question).
  • Set for Life: Done in the form of another person, called the "Guardian Angel", being sequestered in a Sound Proof Booth during the game and making the same play-or-stop decisions that the contestant made. If the Guardian stopped, the game ended, and anything the contestant did after that point was ignored, whether they won the top prize or blew it completely.
  • Shafted: The "Shift", used to force an opponent to answer a question meant for the shifting player. If the opponent gets the question right, they steal the bidding amount of the shifting player; otherwise, they lose such amount. Each player has one Shift at the beginning of the second round, to be used anytime from that point.
  • 21: In the 2000 revival, contestants were allowed to ask for a "Second Chance", in which a friend was brought on stage to offer an answer to the player. If the friend was wrong after the player used the Second Chance, however, the player would get two "Strikes" instead of one (three Strikes meant you lost automatically).
  • Waznak Dahab: Since contestants were not allowed to walk away on any questions and there were no predefined "safety nets", they had to use "gold cards" (which were earned via a preliminary round consisting of 5 true-or-false questions) in order to exchange a question for a new one or set the value of the current question as a "safety net".
  • A possible Ur-Example that makes this Older Than They Think, the 1979-80 CBS game Whew! allowed the Charger to call for a "Longshot" if time was running short, which stopped the clock and sent them to Level 6 (the top of the game board). The catch was that doing so allowed the Blocker to place a secret Block on one of the three amounts up there ($250, $300, or $500) to go along with the Block that almost certainly was placed up there at the start of the round. If the Charger found a blooper and corrected it, s/he won; anything else, and the Blocker won.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: Trope Namer. See the article for all the Lifelines.
  • Winning Lines: During the "Wonderwall" bonus round, the contestant could use a "Pit Stop" to freeze the clock for 15 seconds to assist in locating an answer. The U.S. version added the ability to pass up to two questions.

  • In the video game L.A. Noire, when talking to/interrogating people, you can use "intuition points" to remove one of the three questioning options (Truth, Doubt, or Lie) or see what other players selected for that option.
  • In HQ, players can use Extra Lives to remain in the game if they get a question wrong. However, they can only be used once per game and are taken away once they're used. The only ways to get new ones are to invite a friend to the game or be awarded one by the admins.
  • Parodied in an episode of Win Ben Stein's Money that parodied Millionaire.
    Jimmy Kimmel: If you are too stupid to answer the questions in this round, we've got three ways to help you cheat. Number one, you can dial 1-900-ASS-PARTY; they may not have the answers, but it is a lot of fun. Number two, you can poll our audience, but they're really only good if it's a drug question. And, number three, you can ask me, but that's not usually much help either.
  • The Hollow: Call for "Help, please!" brings the Weird Guy to give you a push in the right direction. Each group can only do this three times.
  • The I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue parody of game shows ("The Game of Games") parodies the Millionaire lifelines: when Barry goes 50/50, Humph takes away "one wrong answer, and one right answer"; when he phones a friend, the friend turns out to be in the audience and Humph insists he turns his mobile off; and when he tries to ask the audience, we hear a cacophony of ringtones as Humph demands they all turn their mobiles off. (For the stage show version, this was changed to Barry saying "Are you ready, audience?", and Humph refusing to let him put the question to them as he'd already asked the audience.)
  • Happy Heroes: In episode 19, Careless S. does surprisingly well at a quiz show until he reaches the final question, "What kind of bug will make a computer fail?", and is presented with the option to call a friend for the answer. Careless S. decides to do it, and Little M. receives the call on the phone, with Big M. angrily giving the answer of "virus bug", thinking Little M. is asking that question again.
  • Futuro Ex-Porta: Parodied in Pimenta and Pedro's sketch in Episode 3. After the doctor's appointment is subverted into a game show, Ademir (Pedro) is asked how many women accused Dr. Roger Abdelmassih of sexual abuse. Ademir gets to call someone to help him, so he calls his aunt, who was one of the doctor's victims.
  • In the Only Fools and Horses Game Show Appearance, the fictional game show Gold Rush has the same lifelines as Millionaire (because it was originally going to be Millionaire, but they couldn't get permission). Del calls Rodney ... who unfortunately has been getting Prank Calls from Mickey Pierce and assumes it's a wind-up. Since the broadcast is live, Cassandra soon points out his mistake. In a further irony, he gets the answer right, and Del goes with it ... but the question setter got it wrong.