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Series / Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?

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Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Grab a pencil and a piece of paper
Teacher, teacher now we’re back in school
So are you smart enough for the fifth grade?

Game Show created for FOX hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy in which contestants test their wits on common school-related topics (geography, spelling, math, etc.) against a panel of fifth graders for a chance at $1,000,000. It has the typical 21st-Century game show Tropes of a money tree, pseudo-lifelines to help with the questions and a loud audience, but it's a surprisingly good watch, and free of the pop-culture questions commonly found in trivia shows. The show first aired in an hour-long format (except for its very first episode aired, which was half-hour long) for three seasons between 2006 and 2009. (There were many complaints from actual college students who insisted they never learned this stuff, most likely due to the subject material having been changed since they moved on from 5th Grade.)

In September 2009, the hour-long show ended and a half-hour syndicated version replaced it, with a top prize of $250,000. The syndicated version featured a slightly different format: each category was worth a dollar amount based on its level, winnings went to a bank (which got reset to $0 if a player answered a question incorrectly), and the player could opt to play a bonus question to increase their winnings tenfold. This version was canned in March 2011.

In November 2014, FOX announced that it was reviving 5th Grader, with its revival premiering on May 26, 2015; it's relatively unchanged, aside from an updated look and the ability for the contestant to win $10,000 for another school as well. Oh, and the $1,000,000 question is now at sixth grade level, so you really have to be smarter than a 5th Grader to win.

Another revival was announced by Nickelodeon for 2019 and aired in the same year. It was hosted by John Cena. Its top prize was $100,000, due to Nick being a cable network. This version's main game only contained first to fourth-grade questions; the fifth-grade ones were reserved for the bonus round. A wrong answer in any round merely kept the player's money intact and removed the highest amount available in that round's money ladder.

This show provides examples of:

  • The Announcer: Mark Thompson, who co-hosted Hole In The Wall.
  • Big Red Button: The contestant's and the playing classmate's podium each has one for locking in answers/decisions. (Subverted in many versions - including the original - where the buttons aren't even red at all.)
    • In the 2015 FOX revival and the Nickelodeon version, the buttons were shaped like apples.
  • Blinking Lights of Victory: The studio lights sweep around wildly and strobe when a contestant answers the final question correctly.
  • Bonus Round:
    • The Million Dollar Question on the FOX version. Any player who got the $500,000 question right got to see the subject of the question, before deciding whether to answer it or drop out with their $500,000. If they opted to play, they MUST answer the question without dropping out or using helps. It's as simple as this; a right answer wins $1 million, and a wrong answer dropped them down to $25,000.
    • The 10× (5th Grade) Bonus Question in the syndicated run. This question could only be accessed if the player had got any money in the bank after answering all the other questions on the board. A miss sent the player home with a prepaid card worth $2,500 (or $250 if they had earned less than $2,500).
    • Nickelodeon version: The Fifth Grade. Contestants faced five 5th-grade questions on different subjects in 60 seconds. They had to press their button to lock in their answer just like in the main game. A "Final Cheat" was provided (see Lifelines). After the minute, the questions and answers were reviewed and checked. The "cheated" question was always saved for last. Getting one question correctly doubled the main game winnings, two questions tripled it, then 4× for 3, 5× for 4, and finally 10× for all five, meaning a perfect game was worth $100,000.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Before a new player appears: "Alright, kids, you ready to meet your new/next classmate?"
    • At the end of each game, if the top prize wasn't won, the contestant (at Foxworthy's insistence) turned to the camera and said "My name is [name], and I am not smarter than a 5th grader." If the contestant won, they got a moment to declare themselves Smarter Than a 5th Grader.
      • Yes, even Ken Jennings had to say it after he "dropped out" without seeing the final question.
      • Also used in the Couch Gag.
    • 2015 version:
      • "Let's take a look at your 5th Grade Profile Page (and your latest update)..."
      • "Take a look at the board..."
  • Celebrity Edition:
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Played hard. Foxworthy talked so slowly, you could see a commercial coming a mile away and easily look up the answer online before it happens.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The show sometimes offers questions that are far more advanced than they appear to be. When comparing the learning background of the older contestants who often appear on the show with that of the fifth-grade children, the learning standards are a lot higher than what they were in the past due to advancements in education and better learning aids. A few of the purported fifth-grade level questions might very well be from honor student-level courses or even considered beyond the fifth grade itself. Some of the questions are even trivial subjects not taught in conventional fifth-grade classes and might instead pop up later in middle school or even high school. This may be the rationale for the revival's change of the final question to 6th-grade level.
  • Confetti Drop: Seen in the video game version when the top prize is won, but ironically averted when someone wins the top prize in either version of the series.
  • Consolation Prize: A $2,500/$250 prepaid card in the syndicated version, as stated above.
  • Couch Gag: For the syndicated run, Foxworthy usually tossed off a one-liner in the show's closing seconds, which replicated his famous "You Might Be A Redneck If..." comedy routine.
    • Sometimes this was also heard in the middle of commercial breaks.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jeff Foxworthy often slips in quick jabs at the expense of the contestants.
  • Grand Finale: The last episode of the original FOX version had the night's contestant George Smoot, a Nobel Prize winner, and actual rocket scientist, win the million.
  • Home Game: DVD, video and board game versions.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: Even if the contestant chose to quit before seeing the final question, they would make them answer it anyway just to fill up the timeslot. Same for if they dropped out before getting to the last question.
    • Seemingly averted in the syndie run, or if the player didn't want to even see the question.
  • Lifelines:
    • "Peek", "Copy", and "Save". The first two showed your classmate's answer (and with "Copy", locked it in), and the third allowed you to continue even if you gave a wrong answer as long as the student had it right.
      • At least three versions, original American, German and New Zealander, include an Obvious Rule Patch for the "Peek": after using it, the player may not drop out on the current question.
      • The first syndicated season used all three cheats at first, but dropped "Save" in Season 2.
      • In the 2015 FOX format, the kids would confer when the contestant used the Copy, and whatever the kids collectively decided on was what got locked in.
    • The Nickelodeon version also only had Peek and Copy for the main game. A "Final Cheat" was available in the Fifth Grade bonus round: when the player used it on a question, they would not have to answer it right away, but rather have a chance to discuss with their final classmate for the answer after the other four questions were checked.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: In the DVD game, you can actually refuse to say you are not smarter than a 5th grader. If you refuse to say that 3 times, however, you forfeit the game.
  • Press Start to Game Over: In the DVD game edition, if you take too long to agree to the promise of saying you are not smarter than a 5th grader if you drop out or flunk out, you forfeit the game and automatically get booted back to the main menu.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Imagine this — you're tuning in for two back-to-back episodes of 5th Grader, and the promos strongly suggest that at least one of the two contestants, either supermodel Kathy Ireland or school superintendent Kathy Cox, would win the million. When Ireland doesn't claim the top prize, the promos blatantly reveal that Cox will win the Million. Many viewers flipped to something else for 50 minutes, then came back to see Cox answer the Million Dollar Question, and that's assuming they came back at all.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent:
    • The UK's Are You Smarter Than A Ten-Year-Old?, hosted by Noel Edmonds on primetime and Dick & Dom on daytime.
    • There were numerous overseas versions, listed on The Other Wiki.
    • The Canadian version was actually called Are You Smarter Than A Canadian 5th Grader? and was hosted by Colin Mochrie of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame. There was also a French-Canadian version, La Classe de 5e, hosted by Charles Lafortune (currently the host of La Voix).
    • The Aussie version with TV comedian Rove McManus, which was inspired casting because it suited his style perfectly.
    • The Israeli version changed it to Sixth Grader.
    • The Russian version Who Is Smarter Than A Fifth Form Grader? with all of the participants being celebrities. Also had their own theme tune, courtesy of the host, Aleksandr Pushnoy.
    • The Vietnamese version, similarly named Who Is Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?, also only had celebrity contestants. The show went through four different hosts and two back-and-forth channel hops throughout its 7-year run.
    • China had six versions of the show.
  • Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": The lifelines, the original money tree format (complete with a $1,000,000 top prize), and the gratuitous padding and commercial break cliffhangers are very much inspired by that show. The panel of fifth graders is also somewhat reminiscent of the panel of experts sometimes used by Millionaire for lifelines.

Alternative Title(s): Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader