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 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 off 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 by 10. 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. It will be hosted by John Cena. Its top prize will now be $100,000, due to Nick being a cable network.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Bonus Round:
- The Million-Dollar Question on FOX.
- The 10× (5th Grade) Bonus Question in the syndicated run.
- Celebrity Edition:
- 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.
- Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: Even if the contestant chose to quit before seeing the final question, they made him answer it anyway just to fill up the timeslot.
- Seemingly averted in the syndie run, or if the person didn't want to even see the question.
- "Peek", "Copy", and "Save". The first two showed your classmate's answer (and with "Copy", locked it in), the third allowed you to continue even if you gave a wrong answer so long as the student had it right.
- The first syndicated season used all three cheats at first, but dropped "Save" in Season 2.
- In the new format, the kids now confer when the contestant uses the Copy, and whatever the kids collectively decide on is what gets locked in.
- Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": The lifelines, the original money tree format (complete with $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.
This show provides examples of:
- Catchphrase / (partial) Title Drop: The theme song.
- 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 fifth-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.
- 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 which 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 lot higher than what they were in the past due to advancements in education and better learning aides. 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 be 6th grade-level.
- 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, a Nobel Prize winner and actual rocket scientist, win the Million.
- Spiritual Sequel: Dont Forget the Lyrics, a sister show, had a very similar format. It's almost a carbon copy of it, too.
- 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?
- There were numerous overseas versions, listed at 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.
- China had six versions of the show.