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Wheel of Decisions

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"Bust a deal, face the wheel!"

When a decision needs to be made, or the recipient of a prize must be selected — and no option is more desirable than the others — there are many games that can be used to fairly select an option at random. When Drawing Straws or flipping a coin isn't exciting (or funny) enough, characters resort to the Wheel of Decisions.

A colorful carnival wheel with images of all the different options illustrated on each space. Whichever option the pointer lands on when it stops will be picked. On game shows, there will usually be a Lose A Turn (or other penalty) space that participants hope to avoid.

Usually, an indecisive character will try to use the wheel when they are expected to make an informed decision where a random choice would be completely inappropriate. Expect them to rig the wheel in some way, like having one option way larger than the others. Dense characters may add a "Lose A Turn" even when the wheel is not used as part of a game, leading to the question of why they would design the wheel in a way so as to penalize themselves.

Sister Trope to Decision Darts.


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  • In one Get A Mac ad, PC isn't able to decide on a version of Windows Vista to buy, and designs a wheel with each of the six different editions. He ultimately lands on the Lose A Turn space, and Mac questions why he would have added that section in the first place.
  • This is crossed with Decision Darts in one of the old TV commercials for Bartles & Jaymes Premium Wine Cooler. It showed Frank and Ed selecting a new flavor with a spinning dartboard.

    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: A very dark example when it comes to the Big Mom pirates. As far as Big Mom is concerned, citizens are not allowed to leave her territory and crew members are not allowed to leave her service period. If anyone does want to leave, they're required to play a game involving one of these wheels. Depending on where the arrow lands, she'll either take a body part or an amount of life-force from the victim. However, your head is included among body parts, and the years stolen are in the fifties or hundreds. And if you don't have enough years left to give (i.e., you die) she'll take the remainder from a comrade until the whole bill is paid. The whole thing is basically a glorified death sentence to punish those that want to leave and intimidate everyone else from even considering the idea.

    Comic Books 
  • The Planetary Chance Machine from an early story of the Legion of Super-Heroes, also crossed with Decision Darts in that the spinning wheel tosses off parts of itself—the person they strike is the one chosen.
  • One Richie Rich cover from the 1980s shows Richie about to spin one of these in deciding which of his girlfriends to ask out.
  • In one early issue of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Robotnik decides to fake out whoever's spying on him with one of these; each space is a different evil plan. The logic being that if Robotnik doesn't know what he's doing, neither will the hedgehog. It flops because said spy planted a camera on the wheel beforehand.
  • Judge Dredd: The corrupt Judges of Las Vegas use a giant spinning wheel in the Hall of Justice (a repurposed casino) to determine the method of execution for arrested criminals. Of course, they take bets on it.

    Fan Works 
  • The Ginyu Force in Dragon Ball Z Abridged play the "Wheel of Death" game after securing the Dragon Balls. note 
    Ginyu: Now, the rules are simple: one of my men spins the wheel, and whoever it lands on... he kills!
    Vegeta: WHAT?! When did you have time to set this up?! Is... is that a camera...? What kind of sadistic retard watches this crap?!
    Frieza: [back on ship] Love this show.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • UHF plays with the trope: the game show "Wheel of Fish", where the contestant can choose to win the type of fish the wheel lands on.
  • There was something like this in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World when Scott is trying to figure out what to say. As you can see here, it didn't quite work out as planned.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: Those who break Bartertown's laws must face this. One that is filled with all sorts of punishments — and one chance at complete acquittal. Even better, the wheel has uneven-sized pieces, and guess which piece is the smallest?

  • In some Doctor Dolittle stories, the decision of where to go next is made by spinning a globe and stopping it with one's finger, or opening an atlas and pointing at random.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with on Late Night, where Jimmy Fallon has the wheel of carpet samples. The carpet sample names are often very descriptive (for example "hotel lobby"). There are supposedly "points" awarded based on the carpet sample the wheel lands on, but these are arbitrary. The wheel only chooses the carpet sample the audience member/player may get if he/she "wins".
  • In FOX's pseudo-reality show My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss (a parody of The Apprentice), the Man Behind the Man, who makes the decisions on who gets fired, is a monkey with a decision wheel.
  • Lexx: Episode 1.3, "Eating Pattern". The people controlled by the Satellite Worms incorporated a spinning wheel in their sadistic pattern-making ritual.
  • Some seasons of Have I Got News for You have had rounds where one of these is used to choose the headlines (other seasons have used variations, such as strength-o-meters).
  • KYTV: "Challenge Anna", its parody of Challenge Anneka, uses such a wheel to add extra difficulties to Anna's task.
  • An episode of Ed featured a judge who used one of these to decide the punishment for anyone he found guilty. Notably, Carol had to sing "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" as part of her sentence.
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert uses the Wheel of News.
  • The short-lived game show All-Star Blitz had the contestants spinning a big wheel covered in stars during the Blitz Bonanza; with every click of the wheel, a different box on the gameboard would be lit up and part of a word puzzle would be revealed.
  • Several times on Impractical Jokers, the guys face their challenges according to the WHEEL! OF! DOOM!

  • In No Good Gofers, the spinner doubles as a Wheel of Decisions, spinning to give a random reward at certain times.
  • Black Knight 2000 has the Lightning Wheel, which gives out a random award and is a prominent part of the playfield.
  • Scared Stiff has the Spider Wheel on the backglass, which gives out a random award. Collecting all 14 awards enables Spider Mania.
  • Weird Al's Museum of Natural Hilarity: The launch trailer and This Week in Pinball's deep dive show that the player can shoot the mini loop shots to spin a wheel during "Dare to Be Stupid." Whatever result it lands on will affect the mode, be it changing a rule or immediately giving a reward.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In the early 1990's, WCW twice had the main event of their Halloween Havoc pay-per-view a "Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal" match, in that a wheel was spun to determine what kind of match would be fought. The wheel has also been used in NXT's reboot of Halloween Havoc in the 2020's.
  • In the early 2000's, after WCW went out of business and Eric Bischoff was hired to the be GM of WWE Raw, he brought in the concept of "Raw Roulette", where a wheel was used to determine what kinds of matches would be fought. Raw Roulette still pops up from time to time.
  • In WWE Bad Blood 2003, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Bischoff competed in a "Redneck Triathlon", where a wheel is spun to decide which game will be played.

  • The Kevin & Bean Show on Los Angeles alternative station KROQ features a recurring segment called "The Wheel of Bad Animal Voices." The wheel is used to select a recent news story featuring an animal, whom the hosts proceed to "call" and interview about the story. The voice of the animal is performed by co-host Ralph Garmon, who will always protest the segment and leave just prior to spinning the wheel to explain why he isn't asking the "animal" any questions.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons, BECMI D&D Companion boxed set magic items. The Wheel of Fortune is a 10 foot wide wheel mounted on a stand or wall, split up into white and black wedges with a green arrow. When spun, if a white wedge ends up on the green arrow the person making the spin gets a benefit, while if a black wedge ends up on the arrow the spinner receives a penalty. The benefits and penalties include the gain of money, gems and jewelry and the gain or loss of ability scores (The Six Stats) or magic items.
  • Stormbringer supplement Stormbringer Companion, adventure "The Hall of Risk". The Wheels of Fortune in the Hall are all octagonal in shape, two meters wide, hung on a wall, cannot be removed or damaged and are split up into eight wedges, with each wedge having a number on it from one to eight. When all bets are placed, the Wheel spins on its own.
    • One of the rooms in the Hall holds the Wheel of Fortune. It is made of gold and silver and its numbers are inlaid with precious stones. A Player Character can bet coins or gems on a specific number. If the Wheel of Fortune ends up on that number, the Player Character receives 1-8 times his bet back. If not, the bet is lost.
    • One room in the Hall holds the Wheel of Life and Death. It is constructed of steel and ebony, is colored grey and black and its numbers are colored blood red. When the wheel spins, the result decides which creature the Player Character must fight to the death. If he wins, he receives one or two points of bonus Strength, Constitution, Size or Dexterity, depending on which creature he fought.
    • One room in the Hall holds the Wheel of the Gods. It is made of a bone-white material the Player Characters have never seen before and its numbers are all the colors of the rainbow, changing constantly. A Player Character can bet their Power, Intelligence and/or Charisma. If they win they gain 1-8 times the amount of the bet, if not they lose their bet.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Best of the Worst (from the RedLetterMedia website) has the Wheel of the Worst episodes. The Wheel of the Worst subcategory of episodes have the crew spinning a wheel in order to pick 3 weird old VHS tapes to watch and review.
  • A recurring segment on Dude Perfect's show Overtime is the "Wheel Unfortunate", in which one of the dudes is drawn to spin the wheel and determine which punishment he will face.
  • Blow It Up! has a wheel that is spun to determine the explosive that will be used.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs (1993) has the Wheel of Morality, which the Warners use to come up with a moral lesson to teach the viewers, which tends to be a not-very-useful one.note 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the episode "Avatar Day", Aang is charged with a crime allegedly committed by one of his past incarnations. His sentence is determined by spinning the "Wheel of Punishment", complete with an audience rooting for their favorite torments. The options include "eaten by bears", "razor pit", and "community service".
  • The Fairly OddParents! has this in one episode. In order to decide which fairy will host the next fairy convention, Jorgen spins Binky while the latter is tied to a carnival wheel with every fairy's name on it.
    • A later episode has Crocker spinning the "Wheel of Destiny" in order to find a new obsession.
  • Futurama's Robot Devil loves using these. In one episode he spins a wheel to determine what form of torture to put Bender through in Robot Hell. In another, he strikes a deal with Fry to exchange hands with a robot, and uses a wheel with every robot's name on it to decide who.
  • Looney Tunes cartoon "It's Hummer Time" has a dog using one to pick punishments for a cat.
  • Moonbeam City: Dazzle Novak is wrongly convicted of 1st degree murder and sent to prison for life, after taking his chances spinning the "Verdict Vortex", instead of going to trial which he would have certainly won.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures has the Wheel O' Comedy from the eponymous episode. When Babs forces Buster to cancel Spectacular Day, she brings in the Wheel O' Comedy to decide which character stars in each cartoon. The wheel has eight spaces on it; Buster and Babs (both together and separately), Plucky, Hamton, Dizzy, Elmyra, and Furrball.
  • Total Drama:
    • 10-second challenges are handed out to the campers in "No Pain, No Game" by means of the Wheel of Misfortune. Whatever challenge the wheel lands on, the camper whose turn it is has to complete it or last ten seconds of it. Refusal or failure mean the challenge ends for them there.
    • The Final Three have to complete dares in "I Triple Dog Dare You!" that were created by all the eliminated contestants. Selection is done by a wheel on which a bottle is spun to match one of the Final Three with a loser, upon which Chris picks one of the dares that particular loser came up with for the contestant to complete. The first one to either refuse or fail a dare gets eliminated.
    • In a game of Truth or Dare in "I Love You, I Love You Knots", whoever has to perform and whether they have to perform a truth or dare is decided at random with two parallel digital reels. It's Chris's choice which particular truth has to be shared or which particular dare has to be undertaken. The reels may be rigged due to the many times Rodney is selected and always to perform a truth, which always concerns one of his crushes and which he therefore always fails.
    • The Wheel of Misfortune is spun to determine which contestant gets to have a boxing match against what opponent in "Suckers Punched". However, the wheel is rigged to match each contestant with their most poetic opponent, often the one they fear the most. It doesn't take the contestants too long to figure out that the odds are off, which Chris amends by rigging the wheel to switch Cameron's and Mal's biggest fears.
    • Shawn and Sky each get a helper for the finale in "Lies, Cries, and One Big Prize". Who the helper is is decided by a digital reel that spins at high speed and stops when the finalist presses the button on their controller. If the finalist doesn't want the helper they land on, they get one do-over. None of the rules actually matter, though, because the reel is rigged to assign Jasmine to Shawn and Dave to Sky because Chris can and needs to turn them against the finalists later on.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2012): Spidey's imagination has the Wheel of Excuses for what he'll tell his Muggle friends when his superhero life intrudes on his regular life.
    • He also has "Wheel of Explanations" for what he'll tell Harry about his power-mad father, Norman. He discards the three explanations the wheel gives him, and then jumbles them all up out loud when pressured.
    • He also has "Wheel of Bad News" for when Green Goblin is back in town, and he needs to tell Harry that Green Goblin may be coming after Harry.
    • As well as "Wheel of Responses" for when Venom is back in town, and Fury believes that Spidey knows more than he's letting on.


Video Example(s):


The Wheel of Prizes

Eric brings out a wheel for his guest Sinbad to win a prize from, with the twist being that the wheel will not stop spinning, no matter how tired Eric, Sinbad, or Hannibal are.

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / WheelOfDecisions

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