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Many Game Shows, once they take off and become enduring hits, will try to add new gameplay elements to the show to keep it fresh and interesting. Sometimes, these new elements will work; other times, they just don't for one reason or another:

  • Maybe the elements weren't fully fleshed out, or simply weren't that interesting.
  • Perhaps they were removed in an attempt at freshening up the show, for ratings, or simply because management said so.
  • Or it could've been an either-or situation where nearly everyone chose the same option due to Complacent Gaming Syndrome.

Usually, these elements are retired without fanfare or any mention afterward, making this a game show-specific subtrope of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.


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    American Gladiators 
  • A rare example that didn't last a whole episode: the game "Breakthrough & Conquer" during the first half of American Gladiators Season 1 had the ring (the "Conquer" portion of the game) elevated in one episode. When gladiator Sunny dislocated her knee, the original non-elevated ring was brought back right after the commercial break.
  • Various events were added and dropped over the show's run. The Eliminator in particular went through quite a few different obstacles, with the cargo net and zipline portions being the only constant.

    Double Dare 
  • Double Dare had a number of stunts and obstacles retired after the first couple appearances. Most notable is how, for one episode, they tried replacing the pies in the "Catch the Pies in your Large Clown Pants" challenge with G.I. Joe figures. This led to a contestant's broken nose and the idea was dropped.

    Family Feud 
  • Initially on Family Feud, whoever rang in with the higher answer could choose to have their family play the question or pass it to the other family. At least 99% of the time, "play" was chosen. This situation was even parodied in MAD Magazine's "Family Fools" - A contestant offered the choice asks what happens if he picks 'pass', Richard Dawson admits he has no idea since it almost never happens. The play/pass option was retired for the 1988-95 revival, but returned when the current version began in 1999.
  • Feud used a Bullseye round from 1992-95 and 2009-10. All five family members played survey questions ranging from $500-$2,500 in value (doubled in the second half/syndicated version), and whoever gave the top answer had that question's value added to the family's jackpot (how much they'd play for if they got to Fast Money). Bankroll (1994-95) only used three questions, and one person from each family went up to answer all three.
  • Before the introduction of the Bullseye round, the values in the main game were all in dollars, meaning a losing family would walk away with more than just some nice prizes — the dollars they earned were theirs to keep. Once Bullseye debuted, the dollars became points because, as Ray Combs once put it, "the dollars are in your [Bullseye] bank." Even when the show returned in 1999, the main game has inexplicably clung to using points, nullifying the purpose of the change.
  • If a family has a successful steal, the value of the stolen answer is not added to the bank. After Bullseye was added to the show in 1992, the rule changed to give a family the points for a stolen answer. The current version of the show retained this aspect for its first four seasons. Karn's second season in 2003 introduced the play-to-300-points format, denying families the right to extra points for stealing the bank.

  • When Jeopardy! returned in 1984, one notable change was that only the contestant who won the game got to keep the money they won — the other players left with a Consolation Prize. Beginning on May 16, 2002, the show replaced these with cash prizes: $1,000 for third place and $2,000 for second. On April 10, 2024, these were updated to $2,000 and $3,000, respectively.
  • The show has held annual tournaments and special weeks since Season 2. Among the retired formats:
    • The Seniors Tournament, held annually from Season 3 through Season 12. This tournament was open to people at least 50 years of age, although redundant in the sense that qualifiers could audition normally. Originally held in May, it moved to July in Season 5 to accommodate the College Championship. The last Seniors Tournament was held in December 1995, likely so it could be burned off.
    • "Back to School" weeks or other weeks where children aged 10-12 competed. These offered much easier material in addition to categories about tween trends and pop culture. The first one was held in 1999, and they were done twice a year in most of the Turn of the Millennium. On July 31, 2013, a contestant's misspelled response was deemed unacceptable, sending social media in an uproar.note  What was ridiculous was that it wouldn’t have affected the game’s outcome regardless of if it was correct, as the winner had amassed such a high score that it would have been impossible to beat him. In December 2014, Alex had an incident with a Stage Mom who demanded that an act be re-shot to accommodate a child finishing Double Jeopardy! in the red. After those two sportsmanship incidents, Jeopardy! stopped doing kids' weeks for good.
    • International Tournaments where contestants from foreign countries competed to test their wits. Three were held: two in the mid-90s and the third in 2001.
    • Celebrity shows, on the syndicated version at least. Special weeks were done annually in The '90s with several one-offs scattered late in the decade. They were sporadically done in the following decade, culminating in a special $1,000,000 tournament in Season 26. The last celebrity week was held in Season 31, and none have been held since. ABC started hosting primetime tournaments in 2022.
    • Power Players weeks, where the participants were journalists, politicians or other well-known figures in current events. Four were held from 1997-2016.
    • 2019 saw a radically different kind of tournament in the All-Star Games. Eighteen super-champs played in teams of three with one playing the Jeopardy! round, the second playing Double Jeopardy! and the third playing Final. This tournament had two play-in matches with the third berth being decided among three of the top wildcard teams. Needless to say, this didn't go over so well. During the brief period where Mike Richards was executive producer, he planned on introducing a second tournament with this format. It got scrapped when he was let go.
    • The Teen Tournament which was held on a rotational basis from 1986-2019. This had slightly easier material to accommodate the contestants being high school age. Prior to 2001, the Teen Tournament winner was guaranteed a spot in the Tournament of Champions. While no official Teen Tournaments have been held since the COVID-19 pandemic cut Season 36 short, a High School Reunion Tournament was held in Season 39. This event was composed of 27 past Teen Tournament players with $100,000 and a Tournament of Champions berth for the winner.
    • A similar fate seems to have befallen the Teachers' Tournaments which were hosted from 2011-2020. A Professors' Tournament was held in Season 38, but no others have been done since.
  • From 1985-2021, every two-week tournament with the exceptions of the above events played out the same way. It began with five quarterfinal matches with the winners advancing to the semifinals. The remaining four spots went to the highest scoring non-winners. After the three semifinals, the three winners faced off in a two-game final. After 2021, wildcards were removed from tournament play.
    • A new tournament format was tested for the National College Championship. 12 quarterfinal matches were followed by four semifinals. The two-game final consisted of the three highest scoring winners of the semifinals. With the outcry that followed the inevitability of a contestant winning a game and not qualifying for the finals, it's unlikely that this format will ever be used again. Thankfully, the show allowed the eliminated semifinalist to compete in a Second Chance Tournament.
    • The Tournament of Champions received an overhaul in Season 39. The qualifying field now consists of 21 entrants with the three who had the longest streaks since the last tournament receiving semifinal byes. The remaining 18 contestants play six quarterfinal games. After the semifinals, the three finalists play until someone wins three matches. The Season 40 Tournament of Champions removed the byes in favor of nine quarterfinal matches for the semifinal spots.
  • The style of clue-writing has generally evolved over time such that the simple answer-to-a-question prompts have been mostly replaced with longer clues featuring secondary facts. One style of clue that's entirely disappeared is the list of items with a common bond (save for the rare "Common Bonds" type category, of course). An example from the 1987 Teen Tournament:
    Answer: Defacing books or shouting or throwing spitballs at the other readers
    Question: What are three activities prohibited in the library?
  • For a time in Season 14, Jeopardy! tried "Bonus" categories, which were clues written to have two correct responses. Anyone who rang in with a correct response could try for the second right answer (for the same value), or offer the other right answer for another contestant. These were only used three times.
  • At about the same time, the show used categories where, because of some sort of narrative used by the category, the clues were required to be chosen in order (as if they wouldn't be taken in order anyway). These also faded out of fashion in a few weeks.
  • From Season 14 through Season 19, any undefeated five-day champ won a new car.
  • In 2003 (Season 20), the five-day limit for champions was lifted as well...just in time for Ken Jennings to make his legendary 75-game run.
  • In the Fleming version and the first 30 years of the syndicated run, players who finished in a non-zero tie for the lead were declared co-champions and played again on the next show. Since November 2014, ties have been decided by tiebreaker clues. The winner becomes the returning champion on the next show, and the loser departs with the $3,000 prize ($2,000 prior to Season 40) for second place.
  • For the entire Fleming run and for season 1 of the Trebek version, contestants ringing in had their podium light up, followed by a buzzer noise. Trebek found the noise distracting, so it was eliminated starting in season 2. Some international versions of the program continued having the buzzer noise with ringing in.
  • Prior to the show beginning, Alex Trebek would "put the board in motion," which was followed by the famous "swooshing" noise and the dollar values "popping" into place. As time constraints became an issue, this was modified and now a shorter version of this happens with a new, modern "popping" noise and no board "going into motion" action.
  • From 2001-2022, the show had a Clue Crew. This team of Lovely Assistants provided visual clues and categories. Clue Crew material was drastically reduced when the show resumed production during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Clue Crew was retired after Season 38 ended.

    Let's Make a Deal 
  • The 1984-86 All-New Let's Make a Deal featured a "Door #4" element that would pop up at a random time over the course of each episode. A random contestant would be chosen via the "People Picker Computer" and have the opportunity to make a deal with Monty.
    • Originally, this was a choice between a prize and a mystery cash amount ranging from $100-$5,000 behind said door.
    • Shortly into the run, Door #4 became a 20-space carnival-style "Dealer Wheel" with spaces that could award Zonks, varying cash amounts, or a new car. The wheel had a few different layouts and rules as the series progressed:
      • Version 1: Spin the wheel once, then either accept that amount (up to $5,000) or give it back for another spin. If the second spin was lower than the first, the contestant won nothing. One space on the wheel doubled the prize, to a maximum of $10,000.
      • Version 2: Take $750 and sit down, or give it back for a spin to win cash (up to $3,000), a Zonk, or a car.
      • Version 3: Same as Version 2, but the sure thing was $1,000 and the cash amounts on the wheel ran up to $4,000.
    • The Wayne Brady version revived both elements, albeit as separate games: the People Picker as "Now Serving", the Dealer Wheel as "Go For a Spin".

    Match Game 
  • In early 1974, a contestant going to the Super-Match in consecutive times could not call on a celebrity for the Head-To-Head Match that had already been called. This change, likely made to halt the ever-growing number of times players picked Richard Dawson, was rescinded a couple of weeks later.
  • Another change meant to give celebrities other than Dawson a chance to play with contestants was the Star Wheel, introduced in 1978. The wheel had six spaces, one for each panelist, and the contestant spun it to see who they would be playing with in the Head-to-Head Match. Each space also had a series of bonus stars (a row of five initially, then changed to three blocks of two) that would double the amount the contestant was playing for if landed on. The Star Wheel was kept for the 1990-91 version (with the "wheel" now being stationary, with the contestant spinning an arrow around the circle to pick the panelist; the bonus stars also became two giant circles), but disappeared for the 1998-99 revival and hasn't been seen since.
  • The 1990-91 revival featured a speed round called Match-Up!, which took place at the end of each round. Each contestant would pick a celebrity, then try to match as many answers to a series of fill-in-the-blank phrases within a time limit; each successful match netted the contestant some cash (as scores in this version were money-based). The first Match-Up! round had a time limit of 30 seconds at $50 a match, while the second had 45 seconds at $100 a match. Though Match-Up! vanished in America after this version ended in 1991, the round did return for a Canadian revival in 2012, now only being played after the second round.

    The Price Is Right 
The current version of The Price Is Right began with only five pricing games, and has constantly taken games in and out of the rotation over time. Along with modifying the number of games in the rotation, some of the active games had their rules altered over time:
  • Bullseye (debuted 1976; unofficially called "Bullseye '76") originally had a range of $5-$10 with $9-$10 as the bullseye, and to make matters worse only the closest "hit" qualified for finding the Hidden Bullseye. The former became $1-$6/$5-$6 on November 11, then the current $2-$12/$10-$12 on February 3, 1989.
  • Check-Out (debuted 1982): Originally the winning range was $0.50. It was changed to $1.00 on April 3, 1996, then changed again to the current $2.00 on October 13, 2003.
  • Check Game (debuted 1981; known as "Blank Check" until January 1987) began with a win range of $3,000-$3,500, which became $5,000-$6,000 on February 3, 1989 and the current $7,000-$8,000 on September 23, 2008.
  • Cliff Hangers (debuted 1976) used four small prizes for its first eight playings.
  • Dice Game (debuted 1976) was far more difficult, as the car's price wasn't limited to the numbers on a standard six-sided die. The normal rules debuted sometime between January 31 and June 23, 1977.
  • Gas Money (debuted 2008), for its first season, was Trivia Trap meets Deal or No Deal: the player chose the car's price first, then won money by picking off the wrong prices one at a time; the hook was that the first decision made was always hanging over the player's head.
  • Grocery Game (debuted 1972) originally had a winning range of $6.75 to $7. It was expanded twice: to $20-$21 on January 26, 1989, then to its current $20-$22 range on October 6, 2016.
  • Half Off (debuted 2004) has a $1,000 bonus for winning all three sets of small prizes, but it originally had no cash bonus at all. From Seasons 36-38, a $500 bonus was added for each set the player won.
  • Punch-A-Bunch (debuted 1978) originally involved picking the small prizes one at a time. If a prize was won, the contestant chose a letter from "PUNCHBOARD" for a number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10), then punched a hole on the main board for a slip with either "thousand", "hundred", or "dollar" on it.
    • While the standard rules debuted on the game's first playing of 1979, the Punchboard itself remained until the start of Season 25. The only real change in that time were to the board itself was that the logo, originally rainbow-colored, changed to a solid yellow at some point between December 1979 and September 1980.
  • Range Game (debuted 1973) has always had the $600 scale, but debuted with a $50 rangefinder. This was upped to $100 sometime between April 17 and May 8, then to the current $150 by June 8, 1973. During this period, the game only appeared once on the nighttime version (#035N, taped April 9, 1973), and used a $200 rangefinder.
  • Temptation (debuted 1973) originally forbade the contestant to change the numbers in the price of the car after all four prizes are shown. Either he or she went for the car, or walked away. A few playings later, the contestant was allowed to change the numbers in the car.
  • Time Is Money (debuted 2003): In its original incarnation, there was a major rule change on its third playing that removed the $500 voucher that could be traded for a second try (making its name an Artifact Title, plus the producers had trouble filming and editing the game. Roger had planned a comeback on the Turntable with a smaller set, but never ended up getting around to it before he was fired. The game was absent for 10 years until making a surprise return in September 2014, with a new set and revamped rules. This time, the game is now played for a $20,000 prize, with the contestant receiving a 10-second attempt for the full prize, and then a Trial-and-Error Gameplay round where the contestant can make as many guesses as they can until the money drains to $0, winning whatever is left if they lock in the correct answer.
  • In general, almost all games which involve pricing items within a certain range (e.g. Grocery Game, Check-Out) have had that range expanded every so often to account for inflation.
    • For similar reasons, some of the games played for cars were re-titled and used modified boards when played for cars that now had 5-digit prices, such as "3 Strikes +" and "Deluxe Dice Game". This practice ended when 5-digit prices for cars became commonplace, and said games were adapted to permanently include five-digit displays.
Unlike most other entries on this page, every pricing game ever retired has had some sort of reasoning behind its ousting:
  • Add 'em Up (1986-88): Ruled to be too difficult for contestants. Also supposedly disliked by the staff.
  • Balance Game (1984-85; unofficially "Balance Game '84"): Was considered too confusing.
  • Bullseye (1972; unofficially "Bullseye '72"): The fifth game ever played on the show, ousted after the ninth episode because it was nigh Unwinnable. They tried adding a $500 range, playing for a boat (it normally offered a car), and even ditching the range in favor of rounding the price to the nearest $10.
    • The game might have also been retired due to player confusion, if this record of the final playing (also the only one with that last rule tweak) is any indication: after managing to get the car's price within a $200 range in her first three bids, the contestant went below her first bid of $2,500 and only increased by small amounts, ending the game with a bid $10 less than the one she began it with!
    • Of note, the game's electronics (also shared by Any Number; both games were a single board with different faceplates, very likely because the show initially didn't have much of a budget) actually includes ten light-up numbers, indicating that Bullseye underwent some tweaking between the prop's construction and the game's debut.
  • Bump (1985-91): Likely retired because of Bob's fallout with model Dian Parkinson, who gave the game its own spin by giving the contestants and Bob backrubs and wriggling her hips provocatively while handling the props. It was originally listed in preliminary game lineups until January 24, 1992, only for it to be substituted for 1 Right Price.
  • Buy or Sell (1992-2008): Too many contestants were confused by it; supposedly disliked by the staff. Has a Spiritual Successor in the form of More or Less, which is much easier thanks to the more straightforward rules.
  • Clearance Sale (1998-2009): The staff was growing tired of it, feeling it had "run its course" and was no longer worth keeping around; its similarities to Eazy az 123 probably didn't help.
  • Credit Card (1987-2008): Supposedly withdrawn to be "revamped for HD", although Richards claimed in June 2011 that it was not retired...although the fact the game isn't on the official website indicates that it has been retired (the fact it was the only five-prize game didn't help matters). Amusingly, the game was played for nearly a full year after the titular card's "expiration date" of December 2007.
  • Double Bullseye (1972): Two-player Retool of Bullseye that required a fourth One-Bid and guaranteed a car giveaway. Ironically, the game ended in seven guesses or less at least twice, suggesting that Bullseye might not have been quite as unwinnable as originally thought.
    • The game actually debuted on the fifth episode of Dennis James' nighttime version, which was well-known for experimenting with the established games.
  • Double Digits (1973): Played once with one set of rules, resulting in a win; played four more times with a second set of rules, resulting in losses. Incidentally, the game board was actually a cover put on the front of the aforementioned Bullseye/Any Number prop.
  • Finish Line (1978): Mechanical problems, despite a favorable 12-4 record. While it's also too similar to Give or Keep, it appears to have been intended as the latter's replacement, as the two were never in the rotation at the same time. Bob's dislike of horse racing also factored in its retirement.
  • Fortune Hunter (1997-2000): Too few wins (about 33%, including the entirety of its final season of use), took too long to play, and the rules were often confusing for contestants.
  • Gallery Game (1990-91): Essentially Pick-A-Number with an overly tacky "art gallery" motif, too few wins.
  • Give or Keep (1972-90): The staff just didn't like it. Roger Dobkowitz had planned a Season 38 comeback until he was sacked.
    • The play frequency also dropped drastically: Season 16 (1987-88) had it played 15 times; Season 17 saw just eight uses, while Season 18 got just five and Season 19 got two.
  • Hit Me (1980-2006): Deemed too confusing. The lack of a consistent rule regarding Aces held by the House, whose ruling seemed to hinge on Barker's mood, certainly didn't help. Retired just three playings into Season 35.
  • Hurdles (1976-83): Too mechanically complex for its own good, malfunctioning frequently towards the end.
  • It's Optional (1978-83): Required knowing the price of various car options, which was asking way too much of contestants. To its credit, it had a 60% win rate and bowed out with a close win.
  • Joker (1994-2007): Roger Dobkowitz decided that Drew Carey probably wouldn't like the fact that the game could be lost even if the contestant played the pricing portion perfectly (which happened several times), and opted to get rid of the game rather than have a fight about it. As a result, the game's intended return on February 29, 2008 was replaced by Bonus Game.
  • Magic # (1992-2021): It broke down after a playing in Season 50 and it was pulled from the rotation. It was retired before Season 52, due to the game being beyond repair.
  • Make Your Mark (1994-2008; originally Barker's Marker$): Retired one playing into Season 37 after Drew screwed up the rules. Rather than correct him, the staff decided to make his mistake the "new rules" before ousting the game right after that taping.
  • Mystery Price (1973-74): Too confusing and complicated, despite a favorable 11-6 win record.
  • On the Nose (1984-85): A game where the contestant guessed the price of a car from four options, receiving up to four attempts at a sports challenge (i.e. throwing a football through a target, popping a balloon with a dart, etc.) based on how close they were to the actual retail price. Guessing correctly awarded four attempts and a $1,000 bonus. The game wound up being quite a loss magnet, to the point that even the audience groaned when the game was revealed, much to Barker's chagrin. Quite an accomplishment for a game played just 19 times (two more were planned, which would've brought the game into 1986, but these were later replaced).
  • On the Spot (2003-04): Confusing rules, awkward setup, and a low win percentage. A change for its last two playings to not even use all the small prizes, while resulting in wins, didn't exactly help.
  • Penny Ante (1979-2002): Subject to breakdowns (a problem that only got worse in its final season, although its last playing had no such malfunctions plus the contestant won with no mistakes), and a rainstorm destroyed the prop while in storage. The staff had planned to rebuild it, but never got around to it and announced its retirement in Spring 2007.
    • For its first five uses, Penny Ante was played very differently: the correct prices could be anywhere (with an arrow pointing to the item that it was the price of), and each wrong guess added that amount of pennies to a "catcher" at the bottom of the board. A display on top of the game kept track of how many pennies had been accumulated, and the game was lost if $1 was "saved up".
  • The Phone Home Game (1983-89): Took too long to play, plus not enough interest or ratings to justify its usage. Appeared to go into its usual yearly hiatus in 1989, but no Home Viewer Showcase appeared until April 1990 ("Summer Fun", the last Home Viewer Showcase until March 2011).
  • Poker Game (1975-2007): Truncated rules of Poker and a format whose nature forbade prizes more than $999. It's also the oldest game to never offer a car.
  • Professor Price (1977): A setup which had almost nothing to do with the show's core format of identifying prices (general-knowledge questions that had numbers as answers, then determining whether that number was in the price of the car) and a win structure that required getting at least one of the trivia questions right. To its credit, while it was only played twice (November 14 and 21, 1977) it was won both times, making it the only pricing game with a perfect record.
  • Shower Game (1978): Boring car game with no actual strategy, a 50% chance of ending on the first pick, and a rather large set (it stretched from the Turntable to Door #3!). A viewer's complaint that it reminded them of the Holocaust probably didn't help.
  • Split Decision (1995-97): Considered too confusing, despite being played more frequently than Any Number (same prize types) during its lifespan. A contestant who stretched the 20-second format to its limit and knocked off two number cards didn't particularly help matters, either; neither did testing a "three tries" format on May 24 and 30, 1996. Its final playing (January 16, 1997) likely sealed the nail in its coffin after the contestant guessed $512 for the dishwasher on two occasions.
  • Step Up (2002-14): One of the few four-prize games on the show, it was retired due to having an insanely low win rate (out of 81 playings, only nine were wins).
  • Super Ball!! (1981-98): Skeeball-type game that often took far too long to play for too little payout, particularly if balls got stuck. Sometime between October 1986 and May 20, 1987, they began showing the first three small prizes together rather than one at a time, which streamlined the first half of the game but didn't help in the long run. Also very blooper-prone.
  • $uper $aver (1989-96): Retired at Bob's request after he forgot a crucial rule (that even after picking the marked-up item it was still "mathematically possible" to win) and the contestant complained that his forgetting said rule caused her to lose. Also plagued with mechanical problems, usually regarding the "BANK" display.
  • Telephone Game (1978): Car game where the contestant picked two grocery items that did not total more than 90 cents (so they'd have enough money to use a payphone), and then had to choose the price of the car from three four-digit numbers (where two were actually the prices of smaller prizes represented in dollars and one decimal place) by dialing it on a giant rotary phone (complete with models answering on the other end for the reveal). Word of God (Roger) said "It was lame!" Played just three times, won only on its final playing, and infamous for the fandom believing it used a completely wrong set of rules for many years.
  • Trader Bob (1980-85): Too similar to Give or Keep, only without any room for error. Bob even mentioned the game's difficulty during a Christmas 1983 playing where one of the prices was accidentally exposed.
  • Walk of Fame (1983-85): Problems keeping up with inflation, which made the game too hard. The final playing didn't show the autograph book signatures (Bob, Johnny, Janice, Dian, and Holly) as, while Johnny was still alive, he had suffered the brain hemorrhage which eventually killed him and Gene Wood was announcing.
    • The game originally used three autograph books with one Second Chance, which was reduced to the more familiar two by its third playing (the second playing's contestant won the first three prizes).
    • The inflation issues are what likely led to the game's scarcity as time went on: Season 12 (1983-84) got 18 playings, while Season 13 saw it appear just nine times and Season 14 had a mere three playings.
    • The basic mechanic (pricing items within a certain range, increasing in magnitude on each item) was recycled for the pricing portion of Rat Race.
  • The original Price had three different types of home viewer sweepstakes. They all had viewers send postcards with their total estimate on all the items shown in the sweepstakes (called Showcases in the earliest days, pre-dating the usage of the term on the show by 16 years). The winner was determined by the postcard that had the exact price (ties were subject to bid-offs via telegram).
    • The second had fifty containers each signifying a state of the U.S. with each drum containing postcards from that state. Bill and the contestants drew state names from a fishbowl as the models drew a card from that state. The winner was the first card drawn with the exact price or closest without going over. In 1961, they settled on five cards drawn from each of five rotating drums with the winner either the first exactly right or closest without going over.

It even had several songs changed during pricing games throughout the show's long history:

  • Blank Check/Check Game originally shared its background music with Range Game until sometime in season 16. It was definitely in place in its first playing in Season 17.
  • Race Game had a vaudeville-like cue that played until December 2, 1991, until it was replaced with William Tell Overture for a couple playings until its current think cue debuted a month later.
  • Safe Crackers had its theme changed twice: on the 1985-86 nighttime show, it had a different think cue playing instead of the Pink Panther theme. That song became its think cue circa January 17, 1992, due to the staff getting tired of paying royalties to the composers of that theme. It remained its think music until April 27, 1995, when its current theme song debuted, which was its think music from the 1994-95 nighttime show.
  • Switcheroo also had two different songs that are no longer active: Its first theme song was from 1976 to December 1991. Instead of using that song, the Tom Kennedy version used a theme that was a remix of the Celebrity Charades theme. That ended up becoming its temporary think cue in Season 20 before the current theme debuted on March 23, 1992.

The practice of the host entering through the audience when certain games are played first note  began some time in late Season 17. This practice was retired after Season 36, although it returned a couple times afterward.

  • On The $25,000 Pyramid, the 7-11 offered a choice: the team could take $50 per word, or try to get all seven words for the $1,100 bonus. "Play it safe" was retired because almost nobody ever took it. The choice later returned, offering $500 per word, in the 2009 $1,000,000 Pyramid pilots.
  • The John Davidson $100,000 (1991) used two more bonus categories: Double Trouble offered $500 for guessing seven two-word phrases in 45 seconds, and Gamble for a Grand/Gamble for a Trip offered the chance to reduce the timer to 25 seconds and earn $1,000 or a trip respectively if all seven words were correctly guessed under the reduced time.
  • Behind-the-category bonuses as a whole became this when The Pyramid premiered on GSN in 2012. The Mystery 7 returned when The $100,000 Pyramid was revived for ABC four years later.
    • Speaking of The Pyramid, that version's Winner's Circle had an escalating jackpot: $10,000 as the base amount, with $5,000 added for every category the contestant "swept" (correctly guessed all seven words for), for a grand total of $25,000. This too was discarded for the $100,000 revival.

    Supermarket Sweep 
  • The first Lifetime season of Supermarket Sweep had a giant monster (such as Frankenstein's Monster or a gorilla) that would occasionally roam the aisles, and contestants would have to turn around if they encountered it.
  • There was an alternate format of the Round Robin game with five clues about a product and no jumbled letters. This was scrapped when PAX revived the show in 2000.

    Shop 'Til You Drop 
  • The first two Lifetime seasons of Shop 'Til You Drop (1991-92) had a lower-budget bonus round: the goal was $1,000, and the items the team began with ranged from 49 cents to $250; further, among the items (both with the team and in the mall) were gag gifts, which weren't worth much of anything. The standard $2,500 goal was introduced at the start of Season 3 (1993), the gag gifts were ousted, and there were only a few prizes worth less than $100.
  • The overhaul of the first two rounds in 2003, along with most of the rest of the show. For the first eight seasons, the first two rounds consisted of various stunts done by the teams; for the last two seasons, these were replaced by extremely-lackluster either-or games done at the teams' podiums.

  • When Tattletales debuted in February 1974, there were two kinds of questions: one derived from the show's predecessor He Said, She Said (telling a story based on a question about the couples' lives, then having the other spouse match the story from a clue word), the other a "Tattletales Quickie" (predicting how the spouse would answer a multiple-choice question). In June 1974, the format went to all-Quickies.

  • The "Secret Category," which was the first special category introduced on the show and which doubled the entire pot for a correct answer. It was later replaced with the "Grand Question," which added $1,000 to the pot.
  • The original "Beat the Dragon" Bonus Round involved contestants looking for a hidden Tic-Tac-Toe among four X's and four O's on the game board while avoiding the Dragon. The contestant earned $150 per square revealed and could stop and take the money at any time. When the series moved to syndication, this changed to contestants picking squares hiding amounts from $100-$500 with $1,000 as the goal. Finding TIC and TAC meant the contestant automatically won.
    • For a time in 1983, contestants were required to accumulate exactly $1,000, meaning if they meant over, they had to find the TIC and TAC to win. Thankfully, this lasted only a few months.

    Wheel of Fortune 
  • Perhaps the most famous element that was retired from Wheel of Fortune was the shopping. Initially, contestants used their cash winnings to buy prizes (or as Pat referred to it on several occasions, "fake money with which you'd buy cheesy prizes"). The nighttime version experimented with a play-for-cash format from October 5-30, 1987, which proved so successful that the shopping was seamlessly and permanently ousted from there. The daytime show continued to use shopping until the first CBS episode (July 17, 1989), at which point it began using a scaled-down version of the play-for-cash format.
  • Several categories have been retired over time. See here for a list; at least three were only used once, and one more didn't last a full season. Some notable examples:
    • Nickname, probably the most enigmatic category due to its freakishly sparse tenure, with 15 known uses between 1979 1998.
    • Foreign Word(s)/Phrase (1991?-92), where the puzzles were in Spanish, French, etc. Some leeway was allowed due to multiple Anglicized pronunciations, a fact Pat brought up after the puzzle MAZEL TOV (September 14, 1992)...after which he called Foreign Phrase "the category from Hell".
    • Slang (1992-95), which generally used terms that were archaic or, in some cases, outright fabricated. Some elements of this remain in puzzles today, such as the cringe-inducing TOTALLY AWESOME WATER PARK during a late-2000s Teen Week.
    • Megaword (1994-95; Season 12), an eight- to thirteen-letter word which gave a cash bonus for using the word in a sentence. It had all the hallmarks of a bad idea: aside from Pat's clear dislike of it from the start (making it the Butt-Monkey of Season 12), Megaword had lackluster judging, an unusually-high difficulty level (thanks to generally lacking common letters), really long play times that added to production costs, and players clearly being unfamiliar with the word (leading to incorrect answers with only vowels remaining or, in at least one case, the entire answer revealed)...and yet it managed to get used at least 31 times in its 6½-month lifespan. Pat later stated he "hated every moment of it" when superfan contestant Trent Girone brought it up in 2014.
  • Introduced around October 1990, bonus categories in the main game offered a cash reward for answering a question contained within the puzzle.
    • The bonus was originally worth $500 ($250 on the daytime show), which became $1,000 in December 1995. It further increased to $2,000 in September 1996 and $3,000 in late 1999. The exceptions to these were the "Red-Letter Puzzles" worth $1,000 (explained in further detail below) and the Puzzlers (1998-2000) which were always worth $3,000.
    • When bonus categories were first introduced, if the player who solved couldn't answer the question, the host went down the line to the next contestant(s) who could answer for the money. This was eliminated in late 1995, although Megaword had been an exception prior to this.
    • The bonus categories began to be thrown out as the 2000s progressed, but on January 30, 2008 a pair of contestants solved the Slogan puzzle EAT FRESH as SUBWAY EAT FRESH, giving the bonus answer along with the puzzle. After a stopdown, the contestants got credit for the puzzle and the bonus. Slogan got retired almost immediately, with Next Line Please and Who Is It?/Who Are They? being ousted in April; the only bonus category to survive Season 25 was Where Are We?, only to be used twice in Season 26 (September 17 and November 28) before getting the boot.
    • In spite of this, a new bonus category, What's That Song?, was introduced on September 16, 2010 with the contestant earning $3,000 if they can identify the song with the lyrics in the puzzle. After six uses, the category was retired on October 31, 2011.
  • From 1993-96, the show tried puzzles that included differently-colored letters as part of a home viewer sweepstakes. The differently-colored letters spelled out a word, which home viewers could then mail to the show to enter a prize drawing. Variants included red letters that spelled a common word; gold letters that spelled the name of an Academy Award winner; half-red/half-blue letters that spelled out the last name of a President; and half-red/half-blue letters that spelled out an Olympic event.
    • From 1992-95, the Red-Letter Puzzles were a regular part of the game, with a $1,000 bonus to the contestant if s/he could unscramble the word.
  • Puzzler, used in Seasons 16-17, was a mini-puzzle that could come after any of the first three rounds with an answer related to the puzzle immediately before it. Solving the Puzzler in five seconds won a $3,000 bonus.
  • The Preview Puzzle, present only in Season 17, was a partially-filled puzzle intended as a teaser for viewers at the top of the show, with no bearing on the game. This and the Puzzler were removed in Season 18 and replaced with the current Toss-Up rounds.
  • Many wedges and tokens were also retired from the Wheel:
    • Countless dollar values, such as $1,500, a decent enough close-second if you can't hit $5,000.
    • Buy A Vowel, a single (two from Round 2 onward) wedge that, if you landed on it, you had to buy a vowel. Landing on it without having $250, or after all vowels in the puzzle had been bought, essentially turned it into another Lose A Turn and may have taken out the money anyway.
      • While it was used from the original 1973 pilot until Fall 1975, it was redundant from the start: through at least September 5, 1975, players could buy vowels anytime. The Milton Bradley Home Games in '75 show that Buy A Vowel lasted long enough to see the ousting of the original two-digit spaces and the arrival of gift certificates; however, they also have it being a far more useful wedge by way of requiring players to hit it (whether this rule was actually used on the show is uncertain and, based on the above, unlikely). By November 3, Wheel decided to just get rid of the thing.
    • The second Lose A Turn wedge, used from 1974-75 in later rounds.
    • The Star Bonus token circa April 1978, which allowed a contestant earning it to overtake the leading contestant in a bonus round at the end of the game, played for one of four big prizes (with the difficulty of the puzzle corresponding with the prize's value). However, there was no guarantee that the Star Bonus Round would be played, so when it unexpectedly was the episode would be awkwardly edited to fit it in.
      • The prizes designated for the Star Bonus were also available during regular rounds, meaning that any contestant could earn enough money to buy them and render an opponent's token useless. In addition, the day's eventual winner after the last regular round could claim the Star Bonus token.
    • Season 13 had Double Play, a token which could be used to double the value of the contestant's next spin. Many contestants had a habit of using it immediately after earning it, usually landing on an insignificant amount for an infrequent letter note . Others just never got around to using it. note 
    • The original Jackpot space, used from 1986-88 in daytime only; it started at $1,000 and increased by $1,000 every day until it was won. The highest known value for it was $22,000, awarded in November 1987.
    • The nighttime Jackpot, which started at $5,000 and increased with every dollar amount hit. To claim the Jackpot, a contestant had to hit the wedge (adding $500 to the total starting in September 2006), call a right consonant (worth $500 a pop), and solve all on the same turn. The starting value was boosted to $10,000 on Fridays during the era of having the three top Monday-Thursday winners return at the end of the week to face each other. Introduced in September 1996, retired June 2013.
    • Surprise, used from 1992-98. This was a special prize which wasn't revealed unless a player picked it up and solved the puzzle.
    • 25 Wedge and Big Money Wedge, both used only in Season 25. The former offered a prize that was 25 of something (sometimes $2,500; i.e., 25 $100 bills), and the latter could show one of five different things on each spin: $5,000, $7,500, $25,000, Lose a Turn, or Bankrupt. Hitting a cash amount on the Big Money Wedge was treated like a prize in that it wasn't multiplied by the number of times the letter appeared in the puzzle. However, the amount was added to the player's score and could be used to buy vowels, and the player could hand in the Wild Card and attempt to claim it a second time. If a player claimed a cash amount off this wedge, it became a standard $1,000 wedge for the rest of the round and the two penalty options were removed from it. Season 25 also included a double-sized $2,500 wedge for four weeks.
    • The $10,000 cash prize, a ⅓-size $10,000 wedge surrounded by ⅓-size Bankrupts. It was treated as a prize and couldn't be spent on vowels. This was replaced in Season 26 by the identically-structured Million-Dollar Wedge.
    • The Free Spin.
      • Originally a wedge that could be landed on to claim a Free Spin token, then replaced on October 16, 1989 by a single token placed on a money wedge. Anytime a contestant lost a turn, s/he could use Free Spin to get an Extra Turn right away, or opt to hold it until later. It was replaced by the Free Play wedge at the start of Season 27.
      • After the Free Spin wedge was retired, a single disc was placed over a random dollar amount on the wheel in use for only the first two rounds. Beginning in September 1995, the Free Spin disc was placed over a permanent figure. In its last two seasons of use, it was available for the first three rounds and contestants won $300 per consonant in addition to the disc.
    • The Free Play wedge. A contestant who spun it could call a consonant at $500 a pop, call for a vowel at no charge, or try to solve the puzzle, and would keep control if they made a mistake. It was removed from the wheel in the first run of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, and its retirement was made official at the beginning of Season 39.
    • The ½ Car tags which allowed contestants to win a subcompact or compact car by claiming two of them and solving the puzzle. For a week in Season 28, they were each a ⅓-size space surrounded by ⅓-size $500 wedges. When introduced permanently three weeks into Season 29, the tags covered the "5"s on two $500 spaces. Hitting one added $500 per letter to a contestant's score along with the tag. Each time a tag was landed on, a double car horn sounded. ½ Car tags were lost if a contestant hit Bankrupt or if an opponent solved the puzzle in the same round a tag was picked up. The ½ Car was not used on team weeks with the exception of episodes where married couples played. The tags were originally on the wheel for the first three rounds of play. Starting in Season 33, the tags were only available in Rounds 2 and 3. The ½ Car was retired at the end of Season 36.
  • When the Bonus Round became permanent in 1981, players asked for five consonants and one vowel that would help them fill as many letters in the blank puzzle as necessary to solve with a 15-second time limit. However, almost everyone wound up picking R, S, T, L, N, and E, with the occasional C or D replacing one of the consonants. On October 3, 1988, the rules changed to give the contestants those letters and have them pick three extra consonants and one vowel. The time limit was also reduced to 10 seconds.
    • Similarly, when the syndicated Bonus Round setup was altered in October 1987 to have the player pick from five nice prizes displayed onstage, many contestants went for the $25,000 cash. Those that didn't chose the luxury cars, and very rarely was anything else picked. In September 1989, the format changed to the contestant choosing a random envelope from the letters W-H-E-E-L; initially, there were five new prizes at the start of each week, and any given prize was taken out of play once it had been won. From 1998 to 2001, there was always at least one $25,000 envelope in the mix every night, no matter how many times it was picked or won that week. The envelope choice was replaced with the current Bonus Wheel in October 2001.
  • In February 1997, the trilon-based puzzle board was retired, replaced by a new board with touch-based screens. The last thing shown on the old board? FOR SALE. note 
  • At the start of Season 40 in fall 2022, the board was replaced again, this time in favor of one that is a single giant screen rather than having individual small ones for the letters.

    Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 
  • The American Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? axed the Fastest Finger when the syndicated run debuted and just had contestants brought in one at a time. Later on, they removed the 50:50 (replaced by Double Dip amidst fan allegations that it wasn't actually random, basically started by Norm MacDonald during the original ABC run), Phone-A-Friend (which had devolved into "phone someone who can Google the answer") and Switch the Question.
    • It should be noted that Norm was slightly correct but not how people think. As stated in the rules most people (including Norm) didn't read, 50:50 originally worked like this: the question writer picked the most likely wrong answer of any given random contestant, and locked that into the question stack in the computer ahead of time long before a stack was assigned by RNG to a contestant when filming. The writers were told to leave behind the most likely wrong answer on question 6 and above (but to leave the joke wrong answer before $1000), but as Regis tells Norm during his run, it was not fixed or handled live on set based on contestant's vocal thoughts. Later on, before its removal, 50:50 WAS switched to an RNG picking two wrong answers to remove once the lifeline is activated, as stressed by Regis, Meredith and Chris Tarrant on the original UK series emphasizing random suddenly when the lifeline is used. When the lifeline returned on the US and UK reboots with Kimmel and Clarkson, the show made preparations for a celebrity making the same half-joking accusation of 50:50 being rigged by cutting to Dennis on camera, the crew member responsible for activating the RNG with game show regulators monitoring his actions.
  • In 2008, the original "classic" format of gameplay got a Clock system added to it - 15 seconds to answer questions 1-5, 30 seconds to answer questions 6-10, 45 seconds to answer questions 11-14, 45 seconds plus any unused time from the game for the $1,000,000 question (15). If the clock expired, the contestant had to walk away with the money they were set to risk (unless the Double Dip was used, which made them drop to the last milestone). It also saw Double Dip return from Super Millionaire, along with an Ask the Expert lifeline.
    • Toward the end of the Clock format, the Phone-An-Internet-Searcher was disconnected, which led to Ask the Expert being available from the start.
  • In September 2010, the Clock system was replaced by a "Shuffle" round (10 questions with randomized dollar amounts from $100 to $25,000, revealed only after a correct answer), followed by four questions under the original format. The Double Dip and Ask the Expert lifelines were dumped in favor of two uses of Jump the Question. One of these was replaced with the +1 lifeline in 2014, essentially the successor to Phone-A-Friend.
  • In 2015, the "Shuffle" format was dumped and replaced with a revised "classic" format that removed the other Jump the Question lifeline and reinstated the 50:50. The contestant had to answer 14 questions in order to win the grand prize. This rule change remained in effect until the syndicated version of Millionaire ended in May 2019.
  • In 2020, the Ask the Audience and +1 lifelines were removed as a result of new Millionaire episodes being taped without an audience. In its place, the Ask the Host lifeline was added to the American version; this lifeline enables the host to try to help the contestant answer the question. Kimmel, and Clarkson on the UK reboot, take time to emphasize they are not given the answers when the lifeline is used.