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*cue slide whistle*
"Big bucks, no Whammies, stop!"
— Typical contestant speech while watching the Big Board on Press Your Luck.

Any good game show features its fair share of hazards; they're what make the show interesting and effective, like a round of golf. Any hazard done well can be worked around. This one, though...

A Whammy is a game show's sadistic streak personified in a condition that takes from the unlucky player who gets it, usually everything. A player who gets a Whammy can pretty much throw in the towel right then and there, unless of course his opponents (if there are any opponents) also hit them.

If the Zonk is the prankster that tapes a "Kick Me" sign to your back, and the Undesirable Prize is the annoying roommate who thinks putting Saran Wrap on the toilet is the surest way to express his friendship, then the Whammy is the guy who mugs you with an AK-47. There's no reasoning with the Whammy: he only takes, and just how much he takes is purely up to the show's producers.

Mostly a Dead Horse Trope. The opposite of the Whammy is the Bonus Space. Getting a Whammy during a Golden Snitch situation generally amounts to an instant win for your opponent. Compare Critical Failure.

Not related to a Wham Episode, a Wham Line, or Whammy Bid, though either may induce the same kind of feelings. For the 2002 revival of the Trope Namer known as Whammy!, see Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck.


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    Board Games 
  • The 70s board game Which Witch employed the whammy in the form of a marble dropped through the central chimney, whose cap was designed to create an element of probability. One of four "curses" could befall players depending on how the marble fell through the chimney: 1) a broomstick would fall; 2) part of the floor would shake; 3) a secret trapdoor would open and hit the player square in the jaw; 4) the marble would come rolling down the staircase, knocking down whoever's on it. Players could also find their pieces turned into mice, which meant that they could not move until they found the counter-card.
  • Monopoly
    • The "Whammy during the Golden Snitch situation" is invoked with getting the "Advance To Boardwalk" card from Chance. When someone has a hotel there, it's usually an instant knockout (or will knock you so far down you might as well concede).
    • Inverted with the Property Assessment cards: It only hurts during your Golden Snitch time (you have lots of properties with houses or hotels).
    • Multiplayer games leave open the possibility for this unlikely but incredibly ironic scenario: you are on the brink of elimination when a player who has narrowly survived an encounter with a third player's hotel by mortgaging many properties lands on your space and can't cover the rent, knocking them out... and causing you to inherit all their mortgaged properties, making interest in the amount of 10% of the loan due payable immediately, likely knocking you out too. However, you are allowed to simply let the other player slide by not asking for the rent and rolling the dice.
    • Zig-Zagged with Jail. You're sent there if you land on "Go to Jail", roll doubles three consecutive times, or flip the Chance/Community Chest card that sends you to Jail. It's played straight early in the game because you're deprived the chance to obtain properties. Inverted when your opponents have monopolies; the chance of landing on one makes staying in Jail much more desirable.
    • Income Tax. Landing there is tantamount to kissing your Go money goodbye. There also exists a possibility of landing on it on your first turn, leaving you shorthanded early in the game. Pre-2008 versions have the option to pay 10% of your total assets. This requires adding up your cash, unmortgaged properties at full value, mortgaged properties at half value and buildings, and once you start doing this you aren't allowed to change your mind.
  • Candy Land is a Milton Bradley children's game where color recognition is married to a racing motif, and the objective is to navigate the 134-space, multicolored path to the finish line. Depending on the vintage of the particular game being played, the Whammy spaces were as thus:
    • Pre-2004: Landing on any space marked with a black dot was a "cavity," and — per the game's rules — the player had to stay put until drawing a card corresponding to the dotted space they were currently on. (Given the game's chance design, that could be quite a while, allowing opponents to advance far ahead in the meantime and, depending on where the unlucky player was "stuck," virtually sealed a loss.) Some editions of the game required the player to draw a card marked with two of the same color to become "unstuck."
    • 2004-later editions: The "dots" were replaced with spaces marked with a licorice stick. The Whammy here is far less severe: The player simply loses his next turn.
      • There were also cards in the deck marked with the names of locations in the Candy Land, including "Candy Cane Forest" and "Gum Drop Mountain," or people, such as Queen Frostine or Gloppy the Molasses Monster. Depending on where the player was on the board, drawing one of these cards could be a Golden Snitch (move a trailing contestant far ahead) or a Whammy (a player with a large lead going all the way back behind the second-to-last contestant).
  • Chutes and Ladders: The children's game based on the ancient Indian game Snakes and Ladders, the game used a 100-space board and a playground motif to teach children basic morality lessons. A player landing on a space with a ladder (on which a "good" behavior or deed was illustrated, thus the reverse of this trope) allowed the player to advance a number of bonus spaces, but the trope kicked in by landing on a space marked with the top of a chute (always illustrated was "bad" behavior or deed), which sent the player down a set number of spaces. While the misdeed illustrated wasn't necessarily tied to the length of the chute (i.e., the severity of the consequence), some of the chutes only sent players back a few spaces while others cost the player a large number of spaces (for instance, one chute starts at space 87 and landing on this spot sends the unfortunate player down, down, down to space 24 ... a 63-space loss!) and — especially in a tight game, could virtually seal a loss.
  • In the Game of the Goose, landing on some of the spaces (such as the second bridge or the second pair of dice) sends the player backwards to the first bridge or pair of dice (although this is inverted if you land on the first, which allows you to advance to the second; in either case you are also allowed to roll again). Other spaces (the maze, the inn, or jail) cause the player to lose a finite number of turns. The worst spaces, however, are #31 (the well, where you cannot take another turn until someone lands there to relieve you) or #58 (death, a space five away from the end that sends you back to start).
  • Mystery Date (1965) requires players to have all the cards in an outfit set to open the door, and call which outfit if they have more than one set. If the date who shows up doesn't match the set, the player has to discard all the cards in that set.
  • Codenames has the assassin. The game requires players to guess one or more words on a 25-word board that match their team's colour, based on a one-word clue provided by the team's captain each turn. Matching a bystander ends the turn, which isn't a big deal. Matching the other team's colour gives them a free point, which is problematic. Matching the single assassin on the board, however, is an instant Game Over for the team. Because of this, it's very important for the captain not to give a clue that can in any way be linked to the assassin's word.
  • Non-luck-based variant in Chess and Shatranj: The form of zugzwang called the trebuchet. In Chess, it means all legal moves give your opponent an unstoppable passed pawn that will queen for a King-and-Queen checkmate net. It's even more immediate in Shatranj, since all legal moves enable your opponent to bare your King on the next move; Game Over, you lose.
  • Game of Life:
    • Any space where you are required to pay a huge sum of money.
      • In the original version, there was "Save Polluted Lake" which cost a whopping $240,000 (equivalent to at least four Pay Days, even with the maximum salary of $50,000). The 1991 reboot changed that to collecting a LIFE tile.
      • Then there are spaces that require you to pay to an opponent if their occupation is represented by that space. For instance, if one player is an Artist and an opponent lands on "Sponsor an Art Exhibit", the opponent pays the Artist $125,000. Otherwise, the money goes to the bank. If the Artist lands there, nothing happens.
    • "You're Fired!" or "Mid-Life Crisis" in the current version, if one has a high-paying job; the player who lands there must go through the job selection process again without the possibility of picking the previous job or salary card again. Averted with "Night School", in which case the re-selection is optional at a cost of $20,000.
    • The spaces early in the game that have "Lose next turn" on them. Two of them are exclusive to College and there are two others before the "Get Married" space.
    • The two "Stock market slumps" spaces; the player who lands there gives up their stock card.
  • Mouse Trap (1963):
    • The Cheese Wheel. If you're there and an opponent lands on "Turn Crank", you could very well kiss your mouse pawn goodbye.
    • The spaces where you must backtrack are a subversion. They slow down your progress, but they also give your opponents more of an opportunity to get trapped in the Cheese Wheel before you.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Press Your Luck is the Trope Namer. Not only does the Whammy cause the player who gets it to lose all their money and prizes, but a player who gets four Whammies is eliminated from the game. Adding to the sadism is the fact that players could pass their remaining spins (after taking at least one) to a designated player, and that player had to use all the spins passed to them (but all unused passed spins were moved to the "earned" column once a Whammy was hit, provided it was not #4 [if it was the fourth Whammy, then all spins, both earned and passed, were discarded]). Almost always done by the player who's ahead by a wide margin, and doesn't want to hit a Whammy, but occasionally (and entertainingly) done by a player who's far behind and whose only hope of victory is for the leader to "Whammy Out". The Whammy is so iconic that at least one revival actually uses Whammy! as the title.
    • PYL's predecessor, Second Chance, had Devils instead and no animations, but the same purpose.
    • The GSN revival raised the ante with the introduction of the Double Whammy in Round 3, which is just like the Whammy only it also throws in random physical humiliation, like dropping flour, feathers, or even dirty laundry on the player. The Filipino version even included real gunge and pies!
  • "Sammy the Whammy" of Beat The Odds may be the Ur-Example, as the show debuted in July 1961. The idea was to make words of a certain length, determined at random, and beginning and ending with the letters dictated on the spinning reels. You could keep trying to make words as long as you wanted and freeze your score at any time, but Sammy was on each reel and took all your unfrozen points if one came up; getting a Double Whammy awarded a $50 gift certificate instead. The 1975 revival attempt hosted by Chuck Henry replaced Sammy with a lightning bolt.
  • Wheel of Fortune:
    • Landing on Bankrupt or Lose A Turn, calling a letter that is not in the puzzle, or incorrectly solving a puzzle results in control being passed to the next contestant. Landing on Bankrupt also wipes out a contestant's winnings for that particular round. However, winnings from previous rounds are retained, and multiple Bankrupts won't cause a contestant to be eliminated.
    • If, upon landing on a Bankrupt, a contestant has the Wild Card token, the Million-Dollar Wedge, and/or any "1/2 Car" tags, all that are in the player's possession are forfeit. (The Wild Card and the Million Dollar wedge are gone for good. However, two "1/2 Car" tokens are in play during the first three rounds, regardless if any contestant lost one or both via Bankrupt). The only tokens safe from Bankrupt were the Free Spin, the short-lived Double Play and the even shorter-lived Star Bonus token.
    • The Season 25 exclusive Big Money Wedge notably could switch from a case award ($5,000, $7,500, or $25,000, which were all compatible with the Wild Card) to a Lose A Turn or a Bankrupt, making it a Whammy wedge on some spins. However, if a player was able to claim one of the cash awards, it switched to a $1,000 a letter space on all spins that game on.
    • As of Season 27, the Free Spin token has been replaced with a Free Play wedge, allowing a player to take another turn even if they call a wrong letter or incorrectly solve. However, landing on Bankrupt or Lose A Turn will always result in control being passed to the next contestant.
    • In the shopping era, contestants could put their winnings "on account". That money would be added to the contestant's winnings in the next round...but if a contestant hit Bankrupt, the on-account winnings would be wiped out as well, similar to the Wild Card and Million-Dollar Wedge.
    • On Wheel 2000, Lose A Turn was renamed "Loser" and added the humiliation of that show's virtual Vanna White "Cyber Lucy" mocking the kid for landing on it by her making the "Loser L" sign on her forehead toward the contestant. Meanwhile, Bankrupt became "The Creature", a CGI dragon-monster-thing that lived under the Wheel and came up whenever his wedge was hit to "eat" the player's points or the player if it was landed on without points.
  • The Olmec's Temple final round of Legends of the Hidden Temple had three "Temple Guards" in random rooms. A contestant entering a guarded room would be immediately "captured" and removed from the temple, leaving their partner to try and complete the run in their place. If the partner then got captured in turn, the game would end. To mitigate this, "Pendants of Life" could be won in previous rounds and guards could be "bribed" away with a full pendant (hence the name — they acted as extra lives), but only two pendants were available and any team that didn't completely ace the Temple Games would likely have only one (if they entered the temple with one and a half pendants, another half pendant was hidden in the temple's early areas that the second player could pick up to give them the second pendant). Legends of the Hidden Temple had a notoriously low win rate.
  • A favorite Bonus Round format of Jack Barry (partner in the Jack Barry-Dan Enright Productions empire), where the designated picture would end the game in a loss if revealed before the contestant achieved a specific goal (usually, accumulating $1,000 through other good picks). Each of these games also offered the contestant a chance to end the game at his discretion and keep any winnings to that point or continue on at risk of losing:
    • Tic-Tac-Dough: The Dragon of the 1978-86 and 1990 runs, where revealing the Dragon meant an instant loss on the Bonus Round. (A few weeks into the 1990 version, it began rapping (and so did the Dragonslayer, which if found, immediately won the game and doubled the pot).
      • Conversely, during the fifth and sixth seasons of the syndicated 1978 run, there was a "Dragon Finder's Game," an audience participation game where the player's goal was to find the dragon. (Usually, this was an uncompleted board if the studio contestant had won, or — if the previous game ended in a loss and there wasn't enough time to start a new front game — a new board was assembled.) The contestant doing so won a cash bonus and-or a small prize; the other contestants got a hat with the Tic Tac Dough dragon on it.
    • The Joker's Wild: The Devil appeared in one of the slot machine windows during the "Face the Devil" endgame, which served as an automatic loss if the icon appeared in one of the windows during a spin.
    • Bullseye: The Whammy token here was a lightning bolt, which if hit before the player used his allotment of spins or got 3 bullseyes lost all accumulated cash so far.
  • Video Village: In this racing-type game show (a large game board spread out in the studio), there were a number of penalty-type spaces the players tried to avoid:
    • Jail: Landing on this space required the player to go to an onstage jail. "Bail" was, on their next turn, either correctly answering a simple question or predicting whether the next roll was even or odd.
    • Exchange Spaces: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It wasn't so much a Whammy if the leading player was only a few spaces ahead, but if that player was far ahead ... he could conceivably be sent back to near the beginning of the game board while the trailing player would gain a considerable advantage.
    • 1-2-3 Go, 4-5-6 No: Another "Exactly What It Says On The Tin" space – getting a 4, 5 or 6 on the next roll ended the player's turn without advancing, giving the opponent a chance to catch up and/or overtake the contestant in the lead (or, as the case might be, fall further behind).
  • Wipeout: Picking one of the five incorrect answers in the first round took away not only the player's money, but also the prize if the player had found the Hot Spot earlier. In fact, Peter Tomarken accidentally referred to it as a "whammy" one day. Apparently, he knew it would eventually happen.
  • The Whammy in High Rollers is simply rolling a combination that couldn't be used to take numbers off the board (which is why control of the dice is so important).
  • Nick Arcade had secret "enemy" squares on the game-board, where steering Mikey onto one would immediately give control to the other team. Also the "Time Bomb" spaces, where contestants who didn't see the big bomb shape saying "Don't go here, you've already been here." would have to pong-spell a word in ten seconds with each other to keep control of the board (though one instance surrounded the team with "Time Bomb" spaces and forced them to step onto one of them; most other times, if the team(s) surrounded Mikey with "Time Bombs", the out-of-time buzzer would sound to end the round in sudden death). It never went well.
  • Parodied in the nonsensical game show Joey's auditioning for in the Friends episode "The One With The Baby Shower". At one point, Chandler gets all of Ross' points for no real reason. Then at the end Chandler "gets Bamboozled", which apparently means that Ross wins... somehow.
  • Stopper tiles on Scrabble. Still, as Chuck Woolery explained on the 1993 finale, if you had one tile left and knew that it was a stopper, you could guess the word to pass the stopper to your opponent. (You could not pass two stoppers, because whenever you took tiles and filled your rack, you had to use at least one of the tiles. One 1993 contestant found this out - or, more accurately, was reminded of it - the hard way.)
  • Lingo featured red balls (also referred to as "stoppers" as a callback to Scrabble since Woolery hosted) that, when pulled out, would automatically hand gameplay control to the opposing team.
  • The "Stinger" on The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime. Picking the lone available letter that wasn't in the puzzle ended your turn immediately.
  • Million Dollar Money Drop: Pretty much the whole point. In this case, the Whammies are the wrong answers. You have to wager all the money you have on the choices, and you must leave one choice with no money on it, and if you leave the right answer empty...
  • $100,000 Fortune Hunt was a WGN game show for winners of the Illinois Lottery. The board had positive and negative dollar amounts, but also had a few whammies:
    • A Bankrupt space, which knocked the contestant's score down to zero.
    • A Wipeout space, signified by a crying face. Picking it eliminated a player from the game, but still awarded $1,000 in consolation money. It was only used for the first four episodes; one particularly unlucky contestant managed to knock themselves out on the first turn of the game!
    • The Wipeout was replaced by the less severe Lose A Turn, which simply awarded no money for that turn.
  • Several pricing games on The Price Is Right give players the progressive option to stop where they are with what they've won in that game or continue on, knowing that a slip-up means you get bupkis.
    • Going over the ARP in the Card Game and in the Showcase is painful as well. On the original Price, if all four bidders went over, then nobody won the item. Once in awhile, though, the bids would be erased and each player would be allowed to make one guess with each bid lower than the lowest original frozen bid.
    • Danger Price has the one price which is the titular Danger Price, which the player must avoid picking or the game is over.
    • Gas Money has the pink slip to the car, which is hidden among five price tags. The goal of the game is to not pick the tag with the correct price: the other 4 tags contain cash values of $1,000-$4,000, and the contestant can walk away at any time.
    • Grand Game has anything over the target price (the goal of the game is to pick the 4 items out of 6 below it)
    • Hot Seat has a money ladder, but the reveal of the answers is pseudo-randomized to go through all of the correct answers first. The contestant, knowing this, is given a chance to walk away before each answer is revealed, as revealing an incorrect answer ends the game.
    • Pass the Buck plays it straight - hidden among the sixnote  spaces are twonote  "Lose Everything" spaces which eliminate all of the contestant's previous earnings (but the game still continues, provided the contestant still has a pick remaining). It's not all that uncommon to see contestants uncover both Lose Everythings back to back; averted, however, if the player has all three picks, and picks the Lose Everythings on the first two picks, in which case something is guaranteed to be won (car or money).
    • To The Penny only costs the contestant everything if he/she chooses a wrong answer on a product without enough pennies for recovery (at least two were needed to recover from a wrong answer and continue); each of the five products also has harder choices, and a greater number of them (first had two, second three, third four, fourth five, and final one six).
  • In the current CBS version of Let's Make a Deal, the Zonk symbol is often used to denote whammies in luck-based games.
    • As a running gag, a recurring scratch card game has Jonathan Mangum's face as representing a comically small cash prize. He's never amused.
    • A favorite game during the Monty Hall era was "Monty's Cash Register", where hitting unmarked cash buttons won cash that, if enough was built up, won a grand prize (usually a car). However, the Whammy kicked into effect by hitting one of two "No Sale" buttons — the game ended and the grand prize lost. However: 1. If there were enough buttons left in play, the next button hit won a small consolation cash prize (often, $50 or $100); 2. If the "No Sale" button were hit on the first pick, Hall often told the contestant that if the other "No Sale" button were hit on the second pick, he or she won the grand prize in an alternate Instant-Win Condition (if they didn't find the "No Sale" button on the second pick after hitting it on the first pick, they received whatever money they found). An updated version called the "Cash Board" has been played occasionally on the current Wayne Brady version, with Zonk cards replacing the "No Sale" buttons, and has been won by finding both Zonks in succession twice (the first being in a playing of the game guest hosted by Hall).
    • One other game involved a money machine/ATM machine where the player could get money or checks of various amounts. The amount was limited, of course, and eventually the machine would spit out either a blue card, a blue card saying "Curtains" (the Monty Hall versions), a red card that said "Bust" and had a skull-and-crossbones on it (the Billy Bush NBC version), a check with no dollar amount but a red stamp on it that said "Bankrupt" (the Game Show Marathon version), or the machine would say "Overdrawn" (the CBS versions); if the player got this, they were bankrupted and had to return all the money they got from the machine, leaving them with nothing (this happened on the Billy Bush version with the "Bust" card). The player could stop after any withdrawal if they thought the Whammy card was the next thing to come out of the machine.
    • Yet another use of the Zonk-as-Whammy in the Monty Hall versions was in a couple of iterations of the Door #4 game (which were similar to, but notably different from the Wayne Brady-era "Go For a Spin"). A contestant from the trading floor selected by a computer at randomnote  was given a check (first $750, then $1000) and an opportunity to win a car by giving the check back and spinning a wheel. Beside the car, you could double, triple, or even quadruple the original amount, but you could also win less money, including landing on a Zonk wedge.
  • Strike it Rich/Lucky had the Hot Spot (or Bandit in the short-lived original U.S. version), which ended a turn and took away non-banked prizes. It's not a good spot. However, Michael Barrymore was generous and sometimes let couples receive prizes back from Hot Spots as a Consolation Prize if they didn't do well.
  • Couch Potatoes had "Pay TV" as one of the channels in the "Channel Roulette" Bonus Round, during which you had to accumulate 1,000 points by guessing TV shows based on cast pictures. Hitting Pay TV wiped out your score and you had to start over.
  • Avanti Un Altro has two types of Whammies from the scrolls contestants pick from to earn cash; there are three Lo iettatore scrolls ("The Jinx", which wipes out your bank and forces you to answer another question, usually about death, or misfortune, or the like, in order to stay in the game), and one Avanti un altro scroll, which wipes out your bank and ends your game immediately.
  • On the 2000s revival of the Japanese quiz show Time Shock, contestants who missed more than half the questions in a round not only had their winnings wiped out and eliminated, but they were also taken for a spin - literally; they were strapped into a gyroscope chair of the sort one might find at a space camp, and failure would trigger the chair's "Tornado Spin".
  • An old Japanese quiz show titled Up Down Quiz was particularly strict about wrong answers: Buzz in and answer incorrectly just once and your entire score is wiped out. Do it a second time in the same game and you would be immediately eliminated.
  • QI has the klaxon, which gives the contestant -10 points if they answer something that's both wrong and predictable. This is a downplayed example though, since The Points Mean Nothing, and sometimes the players will even activate it on purpose to get it out of the way.
  • The Diamond Head Game had a $1 bill for its "Money Volcano" Bonus Round. If Bob drew said greenback from the contestant's "treasure bag", the player lost everything.
  • On the Top Card Bonus Round, finding the Joker or going over 21 ended the round and any prizes accumulated during the round were lost.
  • Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego: In the Jailtime Challenge round, There are Shoeprints (which means "Nothing There!") and their turn ends. In addition, finding the warrant or the crook before finding the loot (they must be found in the order of Loot > Warrant > Crook) was effectively a turn-breaker.
  • Seven Keys, a stalwart on ABC's daytime schedule from 1961-1964 (and longtime local favorite on KTLA-TV of Los Angeles); the game was a basic Q&A married to Snakes and Ladders, with the objective being to move to the end of a 70-space game board within 15 turns, all while encountering penalty spaces and other conditions. The "penalty" spaces usually required contestants to move back a set number of spaces and was one form of the Whammy. The other, far more serious, happened if the contestant failed to reach the end of the game board within 15 turns; that bankrupted the contestant note  and, in addition to losing out on the grand prize ended the contestant's run on the show.
  • The Wall: High-valued spaces on the board (think Plinko, except the main rounds position them mainly towards the right for strategic purposes) deduct cash from the contestants' bank if red balls land in them (2 and 3 are played automatically at the end of the two rounds, and are a penalty if the player in the Sound Proof Booth answers a question incorrectly). Especially if you play a Triple-Up and the balls land in the top values that eliminate your entire bank in one fell swoop, as had occurred in the second-aired episode.
  • The similar Fox show Spin the Wheel introduces "Back to Zero" spaces as a mechanic in its third round, which do exactly that. In the final round (where even more are added over time), there is also a rule stating that the game automatically ends if your bank hits zero, turning these into One-Hit Kill spaces unless the player's partner took a cash bailout offer.
  • The French game show La Cible begins with "Le Grand Tour", a pair of rounds commonly separated into six male and six female contestants. The goal is to name as many as many items that fit the given category as possible. If a contestant gives a wrong answer at any point, repeats an answer, or takes too long, they are instantly eliminated from the game.
    • Similarly, the game also has "La Suite" which gives three example answers for a category, and picking any of these is considered a repeat guess. Four contestants play, and after three contestants miss (provided that the fourth has given at least one correct answer), the last one standing scores a point. Unlike Le Grand Tour, the contestant is not eliminated from the game, but the round ends after two contestants score two points each and advance to "Les Enchères".
    • The original format for the final round was also strict. The last remaining contestant has to give 21 correct answers to six different categories in 100 seconds to win the jackpot. The structure is one answer for the first, two for the second, all the way to six for the last three. If even one wrong answer was given, the contestant left with nothing. However, if the contestant got the first three categories correct, there was a pit stop in which the contestant was given the choice to bail out with €500 or risk it on the last three questions. (The format was later modified to award €100 for each correct question until the contestant missed, with no bailout required and no pit stop.)
  • While it wasn't strictly speaking a "gameshow" and it wasn't an intentional feature, Robot Wars managed to invoke the spirit of this with the removable link. A mandatory safety feature that had to be included on all contestant robots, the removable link was an easily-detachable plug that ensured a robot was completely powerless when it wasn't installed, both to ensure that a machine would be completely disabled and harmless while in the pit area, and that if something went wrong a machine could be shut down and rendered safe again by removing the link. Unfortunately, they had a tendency to be knocked out disturbingly easily by the rigors of Robot Combat, making them a mandatory Achilles' Heel in all robots and often leading to scenarios where one robot would be battering the bejeezus out of its opponent, only for an inopportune bump to dislodge the removable link and cause them to stop dead on the spot, meaning their hapless victim Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing other than not breaking down first. Over the course of the show's history, removable links were responsible for more contestant eliminations than the House Robots!
  • These are a central mechanic of the British Quiz Show !mpossible. The show has three types of answer to choose form: correct answers, incorrect answers and Impossible answers, which aren't just incorrect, they're outside the context of the question Example . The only time it's beneficial to choose an Impossible answer is if you're playing the first section of a grid round, where five answers to a question are Impossible. Finding them will add £100 to a prize pot that's played for at the end of the episode (in addition to the £10,000 grand prize). Any other time will result in elimination until the next day (unless the episode airs on a Friday, in which case the contestant is gone for good).
  • Parodies on I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson where the whammy is a furry mascot named Chunky who walks out on stage and... doesn't really have an idea about what he's supposed to do, so he just stands there awkwardly at first, then tries increasingly weird things to do to contestants.
  • The blocks on Whew! The trick is to advance up a game board of bloopers (clues with the key part misstated) and correct them. However, the opponent has secretly placed six blocks on the board; uncovering one constitutes a five-second penalty. A Golden Snitch (the "Long Shot") is the only hope when time is running out.
  • The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Audience Game sketch "Wheel of Game Shows" had a Steve Guttenberg space on the titular randomizer, where you lose and have to pay the show $75. Contestants are urged by Fallon to say "No Guttenbergs!"
  • The Forfeit 1 Gift cards on Concentration downplays this mostly. It does become painful if a contestant early in the game matches a valuable prize (car, vacation), uncovers a Wild Card on selecting next then matches a Forfeit to it.

    Video Games 
  • Anticipation has The Drop-Out Square on level 4 (Only on Hard and Very Hard mode). When you land on it, You will fall back to level 3.
  • Mario Party:
    • Bowser usually fulfills this role in various titles in the series. A wide variety of things can happen at his spaces, but all of them end in loss of coins or stars for one or more players, and no player ever gains from the spaces. Unless they are completely broke; then he can feel pity, and may even reward you. Or he'll give you stuff just so you have something for him to take from you. Depends on which game you're playing.
    • The MP classic Bowser Revolution takes everyone's coins, and divides them by the number of players, giving them an equal amount. If you're broke or have few coins compared to everyone else, this works out for you. Otherwise, it can cause problems (if you had enough coins for a Star earlier but not after this, for example).
    • Mario Party 10: The Peach board in amiibo Party has an event where players choose between five different Warp Pipes to find flowers that will grant them coins. The participating player can choose as many pipes as they want, but if they pick the one pipe that contains a Piranha Plant, the event ends and the player gets nothing.
    • Super Mario Party: The minigame Timing is Money has four players performing a Ground Pound on a button with a slot spinning around. When the button is pressed, the slot will stop, and the player will be awarded the number of coins shown, but if they land on the Bob-omb, they will get blown up and lose every coin they have earned up to that point.
  • 100% Orange Juice! has Drop panels, which force whoever steps on them to roll the die and lose whatever amount of stars the die rolls on. Depending on how far the game's gone on for, that amount can range from a meager few stars to nearly all of them. There's also a variant that forces you to roll two dice at once, which can potentially empty all your stars if you're not careful.
  • Puzzle Panic opens multiple doors at the end of each stage, showing symbols for the next stage. The player is supposed to keep track of them, but picking the wrong one sends the player back a few stages (or worse, to the start of the game.)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Shuffle has the Eggman card. Drawing it in a battle results in an instant loss, and drawing it on the board results in something bad happening to either you alone or everybody (unless you land on the golden space, in which case he'll give all the players Swap Jewels). This can range from losing a turn to losing all your rings to getting taken to a random space to having all your cards turned into additional Eggman cards to having all the spaces on the board covered with question marks.
    • In other Sonic games such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure, and Sonic Heroes, one Zone (or Bonus Stage in Sonic & Knuckles) features a slot machine where it is possible to get three Eggmen in a row, which can cost you anywhere from 50 to 100 rings (it will take all the rings from you if you have less than that).
  • In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, getting two Bowser or Bowser Jr. faces in the Red Mushroom House mini-game ended it immediately, meaning you couldn't pick up any more power-ups.
  • Yoshi's Island: Kamek takes this role in two of the Bonus Challenges.
    • The "Flip Cards" game has you flipping cards to reveal items, Toadies (which do nothing), or Kamek (who causes you to lose everything). You can exit the game before flipping every card and keep whichever items you've accumulated, but if you manage to flip every card besides Kamek, he will fly out and the card will flip to reveal a 10-Up. Kamek could be placed behind more than one card, rendering the 10-Up prize unattainable in some cases. This issue was corrected in the GBA port.
    • "Flip Cards" returns in Yoshi's Island DS. The items have been replaced by flowers, stars and pictures of Baby Mario and Baby Peach, each worth an extra life. Picking every square without revealing Kamek, gives the player a 14-Up.
    • "Drawing Lots" is similar, but you can only open one out of six doors, up to three of which may be hiding Kamek.
  • The online game Slingo features a devil which takes away half your points. Sometimes, though, he's counteracted by an angel.
    • The Facebook edition of Slingo allows players to choose one of three wagers. In the 5x5 rounds, it's usually 20%-40%-60%; in the 8x8 rounds, it's 25%-50%-75%. It also adds a "Coin Buster" token that neutralizes the coin toss.
  • In Gunstar Heroes, the penultimate space on the Dice Palace board is "The Way Back," which sends you all the way back to the beginning. It's even marked with a skull. A consolation is that, like other spaces, it goes away after you land on it.
  • Similar to the above, the Start Over space in the King Dice Boss Bonanza in Cuphead boots the player all the way back to the beginning of the board, though it goes away the first time you trigger it, and any boss fights you've triggered don't return, turning their spots on the board into safe spaces if you know how to rig the die roll.
  • In The Three Stooges, There are mousetraps. Land on one of them, It will trigger and hurt Moe's finger. Land on it 4 times, The game is over. There is also a visit with I. Fleecum. It will cost you $1,000.
  • Can happen entirely at random in Dokapon Kingdom. The chaotic nature of the game can result in any of a player's assets (such as their cash on hand, the towns they happen to have control over, their items/field magic, their equipment, etc.) getting stolen or thrown away on the whim of the RNG. In particular, the Darkling class enables the player in last place to utterly ruin the lives of the other players in this fashion; they even have the potential to rob other players of their highly valuable castles, which can't change hands by any other means.
  • Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy: You're almost to the end, and you slip on the icy slope and wind up hooking the Snake, falling all the way down to the beginning. And thanks to Checkpoint Starvation, there is only one way up: You have to climb back up, and will probably slip and fall again several times along the way.
  • The Sega Genesis version of Aladdin has Genie tokens which allow you to play a roulette-style bonus game at the end of each level. One slot has Jafar holding a "Lose!" sign. Downplayed; hitting him does strip you of all your remaining tokens, but you still keep any prizes won beforehand.
  • Parodius has the "!?" slot on the power meter, which reverts all of your active powerups. This is normally a non-issue since you can simply just not press the "activate powerup" button when it's highlighted, but picking up a powerup capsule sometimes triggers roulette mode, causing the active slot to cycle rapidly. Pray that you're good enough with your timing that you don't, say, get !?'d while in the middle of a high speed section.
  • In Tweety and the Magic Gems, drawing the Tasmanian Devil or She-Devil Joker cards allows something bad to happen to the player who draws them, unless they are lucky enough to land on the Excuse card space or have the appropriate food item in their inventory. This can include having their items or character points stolen, or being taken to a random space on the board. The player is also only allowed to move one space when they draw it.
  • In The Simpsons: Virtual Bart, the game's six levels are chosen through a literal Gameplay Roulette. Whichever space Bart lands on when the roulette stops determines which level he plays. There is also a seventh space at the top of the roulette that alternates between a corn dog and a skull and crossbones. If Bart lands on a skull and crossbones, he loses a chance to play one of the levels. If he is on his last chance, the top space will remain at a corn dog, which gives him an extra chance if he lands on it. If Bart has four chances, the top space will remain at a skull and crossbones.
  • In Squares 2, getting the red circles for Speed and Evil Squares. Speed accelerates the squares, making the red squares harder to dodge (and your square is a One-Hit-Point Wonder), and Evil Squares makes all the squares red for a bit. Put those together and you're pretty much up a very septic creek with no means of propulsion.
  • In Beauty and the Beast: A Board Game Adventure, in Multiplayer Mode, the Gaston space causes something bad to happen to the player who lands on it, whether it be losing a turn, taking a number away from the number of spaces they're allowed to move, or trading places with the player in last place.
  • Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells:
    • Some of the HP characters that pop up in-game are there to clog up the board:
      • Dropping a Lockhart icon to the bottom of the screen causes a number of photos of Lockhart to appear on the board; these cover a 2x2 area and can hide items.
      • After the first Basilisk is cleared from the board, subsequent Basilisks will petrify a handful of gems when they show up. These stones must be cleared with items.
      • If a Lucius icon reaches the top of the board, Lucius Malfoy will cause a handful of gems to turn into fireballs which must be cleared with items or adjacent matches. However, if the Lucius icon is dropped to the bottom of the screen, it will turn into two Winged Keys.
    • Some of the prank boxes you can get from other teams have detrimental effects. The Dungbomb will reduce your assist creature's meter by 10, while the Chattering Teeth will eat an item on the board.
  • Slay the Spire has a pair of encounters where a gremlin puts the player through an experience deliberately evocative of being on a game show. One has the player spin a wheel that can gift gold, cards, or other loot but can also cost all the same resources, based on the result. The other requires the player to match face-down cards with a limited number of flips. It includes curses (permanent debuffs to the player's deck) and it's possible to match a card while flipping blindly to see what's what.
  • Computer games based on Schoolhouse Rock! have a board game as the final segment.
    • Math Rock has "Speeding Ticket" that when landed on costs you half your coins.
    • Most of the spaces in America Rock are these, requiring you to backtrack or lose turns. The effect can be negated if you collected a certain item while playing.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures games:
    • In Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Montana's Movie Madness, when Buster finds Gogo Dodo, Gogo takes him to a bonus roulette where he can earn extra health, points, or even invincibility, depending on which character he lands on.note  Dizzy Devil, however, takes five carrots from Buster's inventory, and he is the only character on the roulette with four spaces (one for each corner of the screen).
    • In ACME All-Stars, Monty's Playroom has a roulette that determines how many points a team gets when they score a goal in a game of soccer or basketball. If the roulette lands on Montana Max's face, then no new points are added to the team's score.
    • Pulling the card Agatha Harkness on a random draw. Harkness takes over your hand and will make moves for you unless and until it's played, discarded or had its power nullified. And since the AI is arather poor player, an unplanned Harkness is almost always a loss.
    • The locations District X (replaces both decks with 10 random cards), Ego (takes over play for both players), Lamentis-1 ("Draw 3 cards. Destroy both decks.") and Weirdworld (draw from opponent's deck) are Whammys, especially for players running decks that depend on playing particular cards in a particular order.

    Web Video 
  • Various players on Critical Role beg the dice gods for good luck on important roles by hoping for 'big money, no whammies' with Marisha Ray being the most frequent.

  • The bomb in Jack*Bot's Casino Run serve this function. Landing on one drains all the money you'd obtained and ends the Run immediately.
  • In Revenge of the 'Gator, getting three eggplants on the slot machine disables the ball savers, resets your bonus, and resets your score multiplier to 1x.
  • In the beginning of a game of WHO dunnit (1995), it's possible to play Roulette, bet more more points than you actually have, and lose it all.
  • A random reward from the "Speed Trap" in Bally's Harley Davidson is "Traffic Ticket", which causes you to lose 10,000 points.
  • Parodied in Total Nuclear Annihilation, where one of the random Mystery awards that flashes on the display is "Tournament DQ". (It can never be selected, mind you.)

    Western Animation 
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Early To Bet" (1951), a bulldog coerces a gullible cat into playing gin rummy for "penalties." (The cat initially refuses but a bite from the Gambling Bug changes him). Every time the cat loses, he has to spin a "penalty wheel" and suffer the physical punishment the number on which it lands calls for, from a file in a rather conveniently placed cabinet.


Video Example(s):


Michael Jackson Whammy

The contestant's winnings are moonwalked away in this classic "Press Your Luck" whammy styled after Michael Jackson.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

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