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Series / Double Dare (1986)

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"On your mark, get set, GOOOOOO!!!"
Marc Summers announcing the first game to start.

Double Dare is a children's quiz/stunt show on Nickelodeon that ran for seven years (1986-1993) and 525 episodes. Hosted by Marc Summers, teams answered questions to earn money, trying to be the leader after the end of two rounds. The team in control could answer a question asked to them or "Dare" the other team, letting them try to answer for double the money. The other team could then "Double Dare" in return, doubling the value again (i.e., four times the original amount). Once a question had been Dared or Double Dared, an incorrect answer would award the money to the opposing team.

Once the question had been Double Dared back to the first team, they had to either answer or take the Physical Challenge, where they competed in a timed stunt in order to win the money and retain control of the round. These challenges, and the whole show in extension, were famed for being very messy and ridiculous, and of course getting people Covered in Gunge. Contestants also competed in messy stunts at the beginning of each round to see who would get the first question, as well as in the Bonus Round.

There were two short-lived spin-offs: the first Super Sloppy Double Dare (referred to by Variety Magazine in May 1987 as the "third season" of the show), which was just like regular Double Dare except it took place in New York and aired on Sunday mornings, and Fox's Family Double Dare, which expanded the scope of players to include adults, and aired on Saturday nights.

In 1988, the show entered syndication, later reviving the Super Sloppy Double Dare name, this new version substantially increased the gak and mess of the show. While the syndicated run ended in 1989, the show returned to Nick with a new Family Double Dare, which was the last incarnation of the show. (By this point, they had moved to the Nickelodeon Studios complex located inside Universal Studios Florida (opened with the park in 1990, and closed in 2005 after years of declining activity); prior to that it had taped at the studios of the PBS affiliate WHYY-12 in Philadelphia (the first two seasons of Finders Keepers and the first season of Think Fast also taped there), and at Unitel Studios while in New York.)

In 2000, a revival called Double Dare 2000 debuted, which ran throughout that year. This version largely remained the same as Family Double Dare, but introduced the Triple Dare Challenge, which added an optional extra objective to a physical challenge in the second round in order to win an additional prize and extra money. While Summers was replaced by Jason Harris as host, he did stay on as a consultant. 2000 would end up being one of the final game shows filmed at Nickelodeon Studios before it closed in 2005.

In 2018, Nickelodeon announced another revival with 40 episodes to be taped in the summer. The revival debuted on June 25, 2018, with Liza Koshy hosting and Summers returning, this time as announcer and color commentator. Following the revival's success, a live version, fittingly titled Double Dare Live, began touring across the US, with Summers back as the host. However, it was announced on August 31, 2019 that the revival would be cancelled after two seasons, and the final episodes aired in October/December of that year.

A UK version of the show was made for BBC1's saturday-morning variety show Going Live!, the only major difference being the teams played for points rather than money (UK law forbids kids from winning cash on game shows; this was also the case for some of the other international versions mentioned below). It became famous for host Peter Simon slipping on the gunge and falling over, which happened almost Once an Episode.

Not to be confused with CBS' Double Dare, which is something quite different (and considerably less messy). Nor with a very short-lived caper series in 1985, which starred Billy Dee Williams and Ken Wahl as a pair of reformed jewel thieves aiding the San Francisco Police Department.

This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The Whatchamacallits vs. Airheads episode has one of the contestants call George Papadopolis "Trapadopolis."
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Played with in one of the Physical Challenges. Contestants would have a slime-filled balloon put on their hat, and then sit down receiving a pat on the head from a giant hand. This would break the balloon leaving them Covered in Gunge.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: While the set stays lit in the standard team colors for most of the game, the LED lighting technology in the 2018 version allows for the lights on the set to change an infinite amount of colors during Physical Challenges and the Obstacle Course. The contestant backdrops are highlighted with the team names against the team colors, but change to a "dripping slime" animation during Physical Challenges. The host backdrop is now an enormous animated LED panel capable of displaying "Dare"/"Double Dare"/"Physical Challenge" as well as the show title and Physical Challenge clock.
  • The Announcer: (John) Harvey. Doc Holliday announced for the 1992-93 season (as Harvey was busy with his new baby), and Tiffany Phelps for 2000. Marc himself serves as announcer for the 2018 revival (now stationed behind a podium near the contestant/host area, with a small replica of the Pick It nose and glasses on the front)
  • Anti-Climax: Multiple episodes would see the main game go down to the wire, with the lead changing on the outcome of the last Physical Challenge, only for the winning team to faceplant in the Obstacle Course (often by getting stymied by a "find the flag in the gunge" obstacle or failing to get a foothold on the ramp up the Sundae Slide) and only get three or four of the eight prizes.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: A few obstacles on the course don't require the contestants to physically make exchanges themselves.
    • A teammate grabs the flag from the Hamster Wheel when the boxing glove comes down.
    • Thar She Blows! at first required the exchange but the producers later allowed the other contestant to grab the flag once it was blown out of the horn.
    • When 2000 did not have the Gum Drop as the first obstacle, the contestant who completed the previous one held the flag in the air as a cue for the next contestant to jump inside.
  • Audience Participation: Occasionally, Marc would pull someone from the Studio Audience to demonstrate one of the obstacles.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Some questions would start with something, then veer into a completely different question.
  • Bar Slide: The basis for one of the Physical Challenges, albeit with a "root beer-like substance" and later a green slime-type liquid.
  • Batman Gambit: Invoked in the Rules Spiel. If a team knows the answer and feels the opposition doesn't, the chance to multiply the question's value is always on the table. A wrong answer on a dare means double, and a correct answer on a double dare means quadruple. While some teams have benefitted handsomely from this strategy, this could backfire if the opposing team snatches control on a dare or if the controlling team gives a wrong answer on a double dare.
  • Black Comedy: One episode featured questions about gruesome things happening to J.D. Roth. Marc punctuated these questions with, "And he should!"
  • Blinking Lights of Victory: In the Nick runs of Family, the winning team's background and strobe lights flashed at the end of the game.
  • Bonus Round: The Obstacle Course (renamed to the Slopstacle Course for 2000). The winning team had 60 seconds to get through 8 obstacles, finding/grabbing and passing an orange flag at the end of each. Prizes of increasing value were awarded for each completed obstacle, and completing the course typically awarded a trip (or a car on the first two Family versions).
  • Bonus Space: For the Fox Family Double Dare, the seventh obstacle in the Obstacle Course would be worth a random amount of cash instead of a prize, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Both Marc and Harvey were used for humiliating and embarrassing stunts by the producer.
    • There were also single-episode examples like the one with the wheelchair athlete who got slimed twice after the Physical Challenge was already finished.
    • In some episodes, one person on the team seems to be picked to perform most of the wet and messy stunts.
  • Call-Back: Part of the 2018 version's appeal comes from Marc Summers referencing the original series and strategies for some of the obstacles and Physical Challenges. Also, when a classic obstacle shows up in the current course, Liza Koshy often tells the contestants "You know it, your mom knows it, your dad knows it."
  • The Cameo:
    • Make the Grade host Robb Edward Morris once appeared randomly sitting in the audience before a commercial and received a Pie in the Face. And given his hosting ability...
    • Then Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne was introduced on air by Marc in a 1987 episode.
    • Nick GaS correspondent and Slime Time Live host Dave Aizer shows up in an episode of 2000 to help demonstrate an obstacle.
  • Camera Abuse: On a show as active as this one, it is not surprising that the camera is occasionally hit or splattered during Physical Challenges and the Obstacle Course. One notable example happened in 2000 when a large dollop of slime landed on the main camera on the first obstacle. It remained there for the rest of the run, slowly dropping down to the bottom while the family ran the course.
    • Another instance is at the end of the VHS tape Double Dare: Super Sloppiest Moments when two crew members throw pies at the camera just as the credits finish rolling.
  • Cap: For the entirety of the show's kids' run—and shortly into the Family days—each team's scoreboard displayed only three digits. Though extremely rarenote , the winning team on the Family version could pile up a score of at least $1,000, thus prompting an upgrade to four-digit scoreboards. Averted with the 2018 revival, because although the scores are shown as an emulation of the old vane displays, they are shown on computer monitors - and you can see the digits move to make room when a new one is needed.
  • Carried by the Host: Do you think Double Dare and not think Marc Summers? Even in the revival, Marc is present as announcer and color commentator on the Physical Challenges and some of the questions.
  • Casting Gag: Marc Summers, the original host of Nickelodeon's Double Dare (likely the Trope Codifier for the "Covered in Gunge Game Show"), had a lifelong case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. While it is hard to watch the reruns these days knowing this, it does explain why he had towels with him whenever the contestants got into the Physical Challenges.note . However, Marc's ability to carry such a messy program without flinching makes him a Memetic Badass.
  • Celebrity Edition:
    • A pilot was made in July 1987 for Celebrity Double Dare, a spinoff with celebrity/adult contestant pairings. Caitlyn Jenner hosted and Bob Hilton announced. Didn't sell.
    • The second-half of the 1988 syndicated run had three weeks during which young celebrities would be paired with civilian teammates.
    • In 1992, they had a couple of Super Special episodes. One of these episodes featured cast members from two then-running Nickelodeon sitcoms, Clarissa Explains It All and Welcome Freshmen, competing alongside civilian contestants in a Boys vs. Girls match, and the other featured four NBA All-Stars competing alongside civilian contestants.
    • For 2000, Nickelodeon did the same thing using actors from its own shows. In this case it was the cast of The Amanda Show vs. the cast of 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd. Another had the boy band No Authority squaring off against R&B group N-Toon and a third had the casts of Taina and Noah Knows Best playing against each other.
    • On one edition of Super Sloppy Double Dare, Marc and Harvey paired off with child teammates. Jim J. Bullock took over hosting duties and Double Dare production assistants Robin and Dave filled in as announcers. They were then made to run the Obstacle Course as a pair with any prizes won going to both civilian contestants.note 
    • Family Double Dare had a handful of episodes where a kid from a popular sitcom would join a family of three to play the game. Participants included Zachary Ty Bryan and Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement, Candace Cameron from Full House, Jaleel White from Family Matters, Tina Yothers from Family Ties, and Tatyana Ali from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Other celebrities were occasionally used with this setup- like "Weird Al" Yankovic vs. Lou Ferrigno.
    • There were two "Superslopamania" specials that paired WWF stars with children. The first featured Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan, and the second featured Mr. Perfect and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.
    • The 2018 version reunited Kenan & Kel and brought Lori Beth Denberg along for the ride as well. Two obstacle course runs were done by the winning team and Kenan and Kel respectively, the latter of which was played for charity. Another episode had pro skier Lindsey Vonn and The Thundermans' Kira Kosarin.
  • Cheesy Moon: The "Moonwalk" obstacle.
  • Christmas Episode: Featured decorations on the set and a Christmas themed obstacle course; in addition, the parents of the kids on each team performed all the Physical Challenges and the Obstacle Course. Given that this was produced prior to the first incarnation of Family Double Dare, it may have been an experiment for this very purpose.
  • Clip Show: There were four Direct-To-Video specials with memorable clips from various episodes, as well as a TV Special from 1990 called Salute to Double Dare. One of the weirdest clips was from 1990, and in it, Marc was seen being dragged by several people into the vat at the bottom of Sundae Slide. This clip turned out to be from an "Old Timers" edition, which was taped as the unaired finale of the 1990 season of Family Double Dare, and had production crew members playing the game.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Not until the first-taped syndicated episode in 1988, but for the majority of the show's run it was always the red team (or family) vs. the blue team. The crew members wore gray shirts from 1988-1992/2000 (previously, they wore purple, and red in very early 1986 episodes).
    • In the 2018 revival, the video wall behind Liza is yellow and blue during round 1, and yellow and red during round 2.
  • Confetti Drop: Subverted; used whenever someone went for the Triple Dare Challenge on 2000.
  • Consolation Prize: Until 2000, both teams kept whatever money they ended up with, with the losing team receiving "lovely parting gifts". (The losing side was guaranteed $100 in the 1986 run, and $200 in 2000, even if their final score was less than that.) In '18 revival, only the winners keep the cash and the losers receive only parting gifts. On every version except for 2000, all contestants keep the uniforms they wear on the show.
  • Conspicuous Trench Coat: Before the spy spoof Physical Challenge Contraband, Robin would come out with one on. One of the contestants would put it on and break balloons on his partner's head.
  • Continuity Nod: On occasion in 1988, there was an opening round toss-up called "Game Show Host". Teams had to dress up in clothes that Marc actually wore on past episodes of Double Dare, that were now covered in gunge.
  • Covered in Gunge: Along with You Can't Do That on Television, Double Dare established green slime as a trademark of Nickelodeon's original shows.
  • Crossover: With Legends of the Hidden Temple, Nick Arcade, and What Would You Do? called the Nickelodeon All-Star Challenge that aired during The Big Help in 1994.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • High-scoring games weren't uncommon. The only known Summers-era game that ended in a shutout was a Family episode where a team won $925-$0.note  (Per the rules of the time, the losing team was awarded the house minimum of $100.)
    • The 1992 Family season ended with four families competing in a Tournament of Champions: the two teams with the fastest times in the obstacle course and the two teams that answered the most questions correctly in the upfront game. The final match was a one-sided affair with Granite Toast winning over the Space Cadets $1,000 to $250.
    • Another shutout happened in a 2018 Celebrity Edition when Rico Rodriguez beat his sister Raini $1400-$0.
  • Curse: One episode has the studio supposedly being cursed according to a note that Harvey reads at the beginning of round 1 after the lights briefly go out. Marc blames the "curse" on JD Roth.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Marc Summers, on a question:
    Marc: In Encino Man, what actor plays the caveman?...Need an answer!
    Contestant: Pauly Shore?
    Marc: No, it's not Pauly Shore. This person has talent!
  • Developer's Foresight: The prizes for each obstacle were chosen based not on dollar value, but intrinsic value to the kids (Geoffrey Darby has noted in interviews that the TVs and VCRs given away as the sixth or seventh prizes were often cheaper than the World Book encyclopedias given away as the third or fourth prizes). The money awards in the show's first half were there so that the winners would be able to pay the taxes on the prizes.
  • Double The Dollars: Trope Namer.
  • Downer Ending: It wasn't uncommon for the team to pace through the Obstacle Course looking like they could win. Then, they would run out of time on the last one, either by being unable to find the flag or grabbing it just after the buzzer.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the first three taping sessions of 1986 (A-C), EVERYONE wore red outfits—the assistants as well as the contestants. The scoreboards were also taller and had a digital dollar sign where the "DD" logo would eventually be placed.
    • After these tapings, the scoreboards were lowered and replaced the dollar sign with the "DD" logo, but the assistants still wore red.
    • Beginning with taping session E, the assistants now wore outfits that were a very dark blue, almost black. It wasn't until the first syndicated episode in 1988 that the assistants began wearing the familiar gray T-shirts (they still wore the complete outfits with "DOUBLE DARE" on the right pantleg for the early 1988 syndicated episodes. Afterwards, they began wearing blue jeans with the T-shirts).
    • The buzzer that signaled time expiring on physical challenges and the obstacle course was longer and higher-pitched. The more familiar one wouldn't be used until the first 1988 syndicated episodes were taped.
    • Marc Summers wore a shirt with no tie and dress shoes during the first season. He also was much more stiff and serious in his hosting. By season two, he found his footing and became much more relaxed and started wearing a tie and Reebok sneakers with his outfit.
    • The first two taped episodes of the Orlando season of Super Sloppy had red and blue lights behind Marc. Afterward, the background lighting was either orange or green.
    • The first four taped episodes of Nickelodeon's Family Double Dare used the three-digit scoreboards. After it was discovered that scores of at least $1,000 were possible (as happened on one of them), the four-digit scoreboards were brought out on the fifth taped episode. Also, the lighting on the blue team's side was darker on the first three taped episodes. Plus, the Sundae Slide's climbing ramp was not used on the first taped episode; the contestant who did that obstacle climbed a ladder to the platform.
    • The first two taped episodes of the 1992 season used numbered flags, as was the case throughout the previous season of Family. The blue team's lighting was also much darker on those two episodes.
    • On the earliest taped episodes of 2000, the Triple Dare Challenge box was a mailbox.
  • Episode Code Number: Episodes were numbered sequentially by the number and by a letter. The letter seemed to indicate the taping session number. For example, #001A was Express Vs. High Flyers (VTR: September 18, 1986), #118DD was Daredevils Vs. M.C.'s (VTR: February 16, 1987), and #136HH was Fish Heads Vs. Schizophrenics (VTR: February 20, 1987; last taping date of the second weekday Season). Weekday Season 1 had 18 taping sessions, 16 for weekday Season 2. For the Syndicated run in 1988, the count was reset back to #001A. An "S" was also added to indicate that this was the Syndicated version, so for example, #S012C is Wiz Kids Vs. Wrecking Two. The Fox and Nickelodeon runs of Family were numbered seasonally. For example, #340J (VTR: July 24, 1992) was the Tournament of Champions, the series finale. It's unclear which style of numbering both the 1987 and 1989 runs of Super Sloppy used.
  • Freudian Slip: Jim J. Bullock's infamous "a fag's gonna spew". Possibly overlaps with N-Word Privileges, as Jim is openly gay, although he wasn’t out at the time.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: While all the searching obstacles were hard, Pick It could be this if the flag was put up too high for a contestant to get while on their back.
  • Game Show Host: Marc Summers; Jason Harris in 2000, and Liza Koshy for 2018.
  • Game Show Physical Challenge: Double Dare features several physical challenges. They are most prominently featured at the start of each trivia round to decide which team gets control. Teams that cannot answer a question on a double-dare are forced to do an additional physical challenge, and the final prize round involves completing eight physical challenges under a time limit.
  • Giant Food: Several Physical Challenges involved making a giant food item with one of the contestants as the centerpiece. This took a few forms:
    • The contestant could be in a container and have the dish made around him/her with the contestant acting as a sort of bonus ingredient, for example the sushi rolls.
    • A common variation on the "contestant as bonus ingredient" idea was the rolling challenges. One contestant would lie down on a foam rubber pad and get covered in gak by their partner, then rolled to the other end of the stage and get covered in more gak. The best known of these is probably the Human Burrito.
    • The contestant replaced the main food item and got covered in condiments, like in the "Take Me Out To The Ballgame Hotdog".
    • The contestant would be holding a large food item and would then try to catch ingredients in it. 2000's "Thanksgiving Turkey" was a good example of this.
    • The contest would be part of the base item or container, and run to different stations to add ingredients. An example of this is the "Banana Split Boat".
    • Finally, there were the Physical Challenges where a contestant sat in a container with the main ingredient already there and would have to catch the finishing touches. An example is the "Spaghetti Bowl".
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending: Invoked. At the end of the Super Sloppy "Salute to breakfast" episode, Marc and Harvey pretend to go to sleep.
  • Grossout Show: With each passing year, there seemed to be more physical challenges and obstacles that revolved around bodily functions, most notably obstacles themed around mucous ("Pick-It", later re-named "Da Nose"), ear wax ("In One Ear"), and toe jam ("Foot Locker", later renamed "Toe Jam").
  • Halloween Episode: Early on, with a brutal obstacle course.
  • Heads or Tails?: The starting team is determined by who completes the physical challenge. If neither team is a clear victor, it falls back to a coin flip. The french version used a hockey puck with two colors, and was notorious for landing on its edge from time to time.
  • Hold the Line: There was one challenge that did this. Basically, there were vats of slime with spouts shaped like giant noses. When the challenge started, those spouts would start draining the slime out of the vats, and the contestants had to stuff rags up the noses so that the slime wouldn't drain below the line (yeah, rather than fill a container past the line, the liquid's level started above the line, and the contestants had to keep it there). Depending on how generous the producers were feeling that day, either two or all three containers had to survive for 30 seconds.
  • In Medias Res:
    • Before Double Dare 2000 debuted, a special preview episode aired on SNICK. It featured the casts of 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd and The Amanda Show.
    • A similar thing happened on during the Philly era of Super Sloppy Double Dare, which featured football players and their children playing in honor of Super Bowl XXIII, and the Fox era of Family Double Dare.
  • Jump Cut: In a 1992 episode, a team's mother was unable to find the flag in the Garbage Truck obstacle. As the credits rolled, there was a cut to the mother holding the flag after the team and several crew members helped her look.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Some of the more excruciating puns in Marc's rules spiels would draw groans from the audience, which Marc would duly acknowledge.
    (while explaining a Physical Challenge involving finding the keys to unlock two padlocks) "We have, uh, a door over here, and we also have, uh... we have, uh, a couple of locks. No bagels, just lox today. (audience groans under next sentence) And we have some keys- oh, 'Boo!' yourself!"
  • Lampshade Wearing: The basis for one of the physical challenges - one partner would have to find poker chips in a bowl of dip and throw them to his partner, who was required to catch them with the lampshade serving as a blindfold.
  • Large Ham:
    • In episodes where the prize for grabbing the eighth flag was a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, the first words of Harvey's answer to Marc's "Tell them what they'll win!" were always "A fabulous Disney vacation!" Starting halfway through the 1986 season, Harvey made a habit of stretching the first syllable of "fabulous" more and more, until he was introducing the trip as "A faaaaabulous Disney vacation!" And if the team finished the course in under 60 seconds, he would be similarly hammy in announcing the last and grandest of the prizes they had won: "Theeeeey're goin' to Disney World!"
    • This carried over into the 1990 season of Family where Harvey would begin the car plug with "A faaaaabulous new car!"
  • Last-Name Basis: Harvey the announcer was only ever referred to as such by Marc, and even the closing credits only identified him as Harvey. (His first name is John.)
  • Level Ate: Aside from using large quantities of post-dated food in the physical challenges and obstacles, many such obstacles consisted of the contestant having to crawl through and/or find the flag in a giant sandwich, slice of pizza, stack of waffles, plate of mashed potatoes, etc. Later in the run, some of the physical challenges required a team to create a giant replica of some food, such as a burrito or bowl of cereal, with one of the contestants naturally replacing one of the items.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: The physical challenges got more complex starting with the '89 Super Sloppy run.
    • The "Breakfast in Bed" challenge on Family victimized two such teams with its rules, and in both cases it affected who went to the obstacle course. For this challenge, the two adults had to switch places between sitting on the bed and pushing it as the kids dumped toast, jam, juice and scrambled eggs on them. To complete the challenge, both adults had to be on the bed as the second kid released the eggs on them. One family lost out on $200 because the husband was not on the bed with his wife as the eggs came down. The other time, both parents got on the bed when the eggs fell, but the judges ruled against them because the bed wasn't directly underneath the eggs.
    • The Physical Challenges were so convoluted on 2000 that Jason Harris often stumbled while describing them. The Triple Dare Challenge added another rule if the team chose to go for it.
  • Loophole Abuse: Some of the physical challenges had rules that allowed for less obvious but much easier game play. One of the easiest involved filling a cup on a contestant's head using a water fountain. There was no minimum distance, so the contestant could simply put their head under the fountain instead of having to arc the stream.
  • Losing Horns: Present in the 2018 version upon an obstacle course loss; the falling "back from commercial" cue from the 1988 music package is used.
  • Lovely Assistant: The assistants filled this role. Marc even compared Robin to Wheel of Fortune letter turner, Vanna White, one time.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Depending on how many obstacles required the contestant to find the flag (whether in simulated food, a giant nose, helium balloons or a big foam rubber shark's mouth), the Obstacle Course could easily become one of these.
    • 2000 had a Physical Challenge based on a giant slot machine. When the handle of the slot machine was pulled, one of four chutes, chosen randomly, would release an amount of slime. The members of the team could move around the positions as they liked between pulls; the team had 30 seconds to get all four players slimed.Triple Dare Chllenge 
  • Lucky Charms Title: The FOX version of Family used a ticking clock in place of the "o". Strangely enough, this variant was used for the contestants' shirts on 1990 episodes of Family.
  • Mascot: From 1986-87, the obstacle course would regularly feature a Toys "Я" Us gift certificate as a prize for one of the early obstacles. The obstacle with the gift certificate as its prize would generally have a stuffed Geoffrey Giraffe, the mascot of Toys "Я" Us, sitting on the sign giving the obstacle's name (or sometimes hidden in the obstacle itself). During some 1988 episodes, the Kay Bee Toys soldier can be seen as they had taken over as the gift certificate prize for the show.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Harvey would sometimes insert a wacky description when introducing Marc Summers. He increased this throughout his tenure, to the point where every episode of his last season (Family in 1990) has one.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: In one Family episode, one team owned their opponents $925-$0 and kept a winnable pace through the Obstacle Course. At the last second, the team's father reached for the eighth flag in Sushi, only to have it slip through his fingers. The real kick in the nuts? That slip cost the family a Ford Mustang.
  • Nintendo Hard: The "Sundae Slide" had very little margin for error, and Marc Summers stated in interviews that it was the "make it or break it" obstacle that often determined if a team was going to get all eight flags or not. "If a contestant's foot stepped into the gak, they were dead meat. It was over. Almost guaranteed they would not get through the obstacle course in time," Summers said.
  • Nose Nuggets: The premise behind the "Pick It" obstacle where the contestant has to find the flag in the giant nostrils.
  • Obstacle Exposition: Before the Obstacle Course began, Marc would give a brief-but-thorough explanation of how to get through each segment of the course. Occasionally, he would have an audience member demonstrate one for a Double Dare t-shirt.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • In the 1986 season, contestants quickly learned that "Icy Trike" became trivial if, rather than sitting on the tricycle and either pedaling or pushing with their feet, they simply put one foot on the back of the tricycle and propelled themselves with the other foot as if it were a scooter. From the 1987 season onward, the producers closed this loophole by declaring that contestants had to sit on the tricycle or they would have to start over.
    • When "Tire Swing" was introduced, just getting across the mat was enough for the contestant to grab the flag. After one contestant simply took the tire and ran across the mat with it, the rule was changed to force whoever was doing the obstacle to swing completely across. If a contestant's foot touched the mat, the contestant had to restart the obstacle from the beginning.
    • The contestant who did the "Fireman's Flag-Pull" obstacle had to reel in a clothesline from the top platform and grab the flag before riding the pole down. The last four times it was used, the contestant simply had to grab the flag from the platform. Even still, that wasn't enough to save the obstacle from getting retired after 1986.
    • The judges were more strict about enforcing the "pass the flag to your partner to get the prize" rule in the 1986 season; in several episodes, a contestant who grabbed the eighth flag with time remaining still had to be reminded by Marc to pass the flag to their partner before the clock hit zero. Starting in 1987, simply grabbing the eighth flag before time ran out was enough to win the trip to Disney World/Apple IIc/IndyCar-styled go-kart.
  • Only One Name: Harvey the announcernote , who is referred to as "Harvey the announcer" or Harvey on the show, and credited by his last name on other reality TV show appearances.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: In the Super Sloppy "Salute to breakfast" episode, Marc and Harvey wear pajamas the entire time.
  • Pictorial Letter Substitution: When Family Double Dare aired on FOX, a ticking clock was used in place of the "o" in the title. No other title used this variant, except for the contestants' shirts on the 1990 season of Family Double Dare.
  • Pie in the Face: While not as iconic as the gak or memorable as pies in the pants, physical challenges that required a contestant to get their face covered in whipped cream have been a part of the show's physical challenges since day one. However, the one that takes the cake (no pun intended) was the "Flying Trapeze" from the final season of Family Double Dare, where a person was put on a platform being moved back and forth by his family and had to throw four pies at his teammate's face while she sat in front of him.
    • This was not limited to the contestants. Sometimes, during the show's Ad Bumpers, when the camera zoomed in on the audience the operator would zero in on a particular person and mash a pie in the fan's face. Marc was also the occasional target of pie pranks by Harvey, Robin, or other members of the crew.
    • A subversion happened on the President's Day special when a contestant was told to make a pie by putting cherries on a plate, put a few handfuls of cream on it, and put it into his partner's face. Instead, with the clock nearing zero, he put the cherries in the big bowl of cream and smashed the whole thing in her face! (The judges declared this a rule violation, and the money went to the other team.)
    • In the 1987 Super Sloppy Double Dare episode "The Difference vs. Punky Preppies", Harvey announced that part of the grand-prize package for the Obstacle Course was the right to smash a pie into Marc's face. Marc made it into a bet saying that if the team lost, Harvey would receive the pie in the face, to which Harvey reluctantly agreed. The team won literally at the last second, and Marc got the pie in the face.
    • Marc and Harvey made the bet again in the 1989 episode, "Slime Busters vs. Bodacious Blonds". The Mirror Maze hung the team up, and Harvey got the pie in the face this time.
  • The Pratfall: As pointed out by the Nostalgia Critic, the floor was very slippery and would cause the contestants and the host to fall on their butts on multiple occasions!
  • Press X to Die: The front game's rules are designed to defy this trope. An incorrect answer gives control (and the money on a Dare or a Double Dare) to the opposing team. If you don't know the answer, you can Dare or take a Physical Challenge if you have control or Double Dare if you don't have control.
  • Product Placement:
    • All contestants got to take home the pair of Reebok sneakers they wore for the show (though they often needed to be cleaned before they could be worn again). Every crew member (including Marc) wore the company's shoes as well.
    • A stuffed doll of Toys "Я" Us mascot Geoffrey Giraffe made regular appearances on the obstacle course in 1986 and 1987 to indicate obstacles for which the prize was a gift certificate.
    • On occasion, Marc would refer to the gelatin used in some of the challenges by the Jell-O brand name.
  • Projectile Toast: One of the physical challenges involved launching toast out of a spring-loaded toaster to one's partner on the other side of the stage.
  • Rearrange the Song: The music cues (including the main theme) originally had a synth lead. Beginning with the Fox primetime version of Family Double Dare in 1988, they were given a jazzy makeover, along with the addition of guitar, horn, and saxophone leads. The updated music cues would be carried over to subsequent episodes/editions of the 80's era (until 1992), though some of the original synth cues would be snuck in as well.
  • Retraux: Albeit using video monitors, the scoreboards and timer in the revival still resemble the electro-mechanical vane displays used in the original series.
  • Reunion Show: Marc Summers and John Harvey reunited on an episode of NBC Philadelphia's The 10 Show in late 2010, and participated in a Double Dare-esque challenge. The interview portion is here, and the challenge portion here.
  • Rules Spiel: Marc Summers even made a ceremony out of ripping up the cue cards with the rules on them when he finally had them memorized.
    Marc: I'm going to ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, or think the other team doesn't have a clue, you can Dare them to answer it for Double The Dollars. But be careful, because they can always Double Dare you back for four times the amount, and then you either have to answer the question or take the Physical Challenge.
    • He would sometimes get other people (like the show's new producer) to say all or part of the rules. One time, he even brought out a large group of crew members, whom he dubbed the Double Dare Rules Choir, to say it in unison.
    • Jason Harris gave a few involving the Triple Dare Challenge.
    Jason: Because this is Double Dare 2000, we have the all-new Triple Dare Challenge worth three times the dough but that's coming up in round two. Right now, we want to play round one.
    Jason: In this round, any Physical Challenge can become a Triple Dare Challenge worth $300 and a really cool prize.
    Jason: Tia/Jeffrey/Will, bring out THE BOX! (TDC is brought on stage accompanied by a fanfare) In this box is something that makes the challenge a little bit harder but it's worth $300 and a really cool prize. Tiffany, what is that prize?
  • Running Gag:
    • During the second half of Super Sloppy Double Dare, Marc would always announce the show was originating from a different Florida city like Quincy or Niceville, only for Harvey to correct him that they were in Orlando.
    • On one episode, the first question asked what someone is instructed to do if the secret word is said in Pee-wee's Playhouse (scream). Marc decided to make "Harvey" the secret word, and the audience screamed whenever his name was said. All of the obstacles for that day's Obstacle Course were renamed to variations of "Harvey".
    • On Family Double Dare, there was one toss-up challenge (when played, it usually started the second round) that Marc would always introduce while doing an impression of Desi Arnaz, complete with Desi's laugh. Its name? "Honey, I'm Home! Haa Haa Haa Haa!"
    • On the 2018 iteration, whenever Liza introduces a classic obstacle, (usually Pick It) she'll occasionally say "Your parents/mother/father remember(s) this."
    • Also in the 2018 version, Liza getting freaked out by the Obstacle Course's final obstacle, Mount St. Double Dare, loudly spewing smoke during its introduction.
  • Serious Business: Contestants (and the host) seemed to treat the events as such.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Various episodes were themed around The Hollywood Squares (1988) and I Love Lucy (1989).
      • A season after the I Love Lucy episode, the show introduced a new toss-up challenge called "Honey, I'm Home! Ah Ah Ah!" In it a female contestant would dress like Ricky and try to catch objects in a briefcase. She would then go threw a door where her husband was waiting dressed like Lucy (in the process she would be Covered in Gunge from a Bucket Booby-Trap). Marc loved it because it gave him a chance to do his Desi Arnaz impression, and would frequently try to get the women dressed as Ricky to join in.
      • There was also a physical challenge based on Hollywood Squares that involved throwing sponges at a Tic-Tac-Toe board. However, it was infamously hard and was never completed.
    • Once during his pre-Obstacle Course rundown, Marc ran into Baravelli (Chico Marx's character from Horse Feathers). He demanded a password before letting him through the drawbridge.
    • During one episode of Family Double Dare, Marc had a box on stage containing a head similar to the Pedro puppet used by Señor Wences.
    • One episode had the answer of the question be Arsenio Hall, who was hosting a popular late night talk show at the time. Marc, after he revealed the answer, imitated announcer Burton Richardson from that show and said "IT'S ARSENIOOOOOOOOOO!!!" while walking through the audience and getting them to raise their fists and howl "woof, woof, woof", just like the opening of Hall's program at the time.
    • Marc is a big fan of comedians and shows from the 1950s-60s, and would do an impression of one if something reminded him of them. For example, during Stupid Hat Day, he was given a sombrero after a question and did a quick impression of the Mel Blanc character Sy from The Jack Benny Program.
    • One episode was a tribute to fellow game show host Wink Martindale, who was the MC of shows like Tic-Tac-Dough and High Rollers; he actually worked with Martindale as a substitute announcer during TTD's stint at CBS Television City.
    • While explaining a physical challenge involving paper airplanes, Marc made a reference to Bud Collyer.
    • 1988: A young girl in the audience said her favorite show was...Finders Keepers.
    • 1990: A question asking who hosted the Wheel of Fortune pilot. (And this was before the Internet rendered it easily knowable; clips of the pilot weren't shown until 1998, during a Wheel Clip Show / Milestone Celebration episode.)
    • In a later episode, one of the questions asked was "What is the only game show on PBS?", which was Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego. When neither team could think of the answer, Marc gave it out and took time to acknowledge the fact that host Greg Lee was a former staffer on Double Dare.
    • During the explanatory spiel for the obstacle course in one episode, Marc referred to the show as "Double Damp", himself as "Muck Slummer", and Harvey as "Hardly", the names MAD Magazine had given them for their TV parody in the October 1988 issue.
    • "One Nation Underwear", one of the obstacles in the 2018 version, has the contestant running two pairs of boxers up a flagpole to retrieve the flag.
    • The three-piped obstacle was originally named Dallas. After its namesake show was cancelled, it simply became "Pipeline".
    • Until the Family versions, the birdcage obstacle was known as Bye Bye Birdie.
  • Side Bet: As mentioned under Pie in the Face, a few episodes involved Marc and Harvey making a wager on the outcome of the Obstacle Course, with the winner (Harvey if the team got the eighth flag, Marc if they didn't) giving the loser a pie in the face.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: The Physical Challenge music picks up with four seconds left as does the obstacle course music with seven seconds to go.
  • Sore Loser: On a celebrity episode, Staci Keanan's civilian teammate was ruled to have grabbed the eighth flag from the Umpire State Building just after the buzzer. The contestant collected some gak on his uniform from the Sewer Chute and rubbed it on Marc's face in anger.
  • Take That!:
    • A question about the show where Johnny Depp was a regularnote  went to a physical challenge. Marc then added that his show was "on the so-called Fox television network", likely referencing Fox's role in getting the first version of Family Double Dare cancelled.
    • Invoked by Marc with this question:
    Marc: In Encino Man, what actor plays the caveman?
    Contestant: Pauly Shore?
    Marc: No, it is not Pauly Shore. This person has talent.
    • They aimed quite a few potshots at their rival, Fun House (1988). For example, one episode had a "curse" placed upon the show. When Harvey tells this to Marc, Marc assumed Fun House host JD Roth was the one responsible.
    • One 1990 question lampooned Milli Vanilli after they were caught lip-synching during a concert. Harvey dressed up as one of its members and lip-synched to Marc asking the question. The episode was taped months before Milli Vanilli confessed to not singing their own songs.
  • The Teaser: Each episode began with a physical challenge to determine initial control of the board. This was the only game show to open in such a manner. The usual Rules Spiel for the challenge plays out in voiceover, which also introduces the show.
  • Tiebreaker Round: If round 2 ends in a tie score, they would do a Tiebreaker Challenge. The team that completes the challenge would go to the final round. One episode of 2000 subverted this by having both families run the course after the game ended in a tie.
  • Timed Mission: The physical challenges were usually played in 20 or 30 seconds (always 30 on 2000, barring a time reduction due to a "Triple Dare Challenge"), although in earlier episodes 10 and 15-second challenges were not unheard of. The Obstacle Course had a time limit of 60 seconds.
  • Title Scream: Family subverted this, each episode began with the audience yelling "Take the Physical Challenge!"
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Several, as listed below. Some of these versions were also shown in a 1989 "International Day" edition of Super Sloppy Double Dare.
    • From Brazil: Passa ou Repassa (lit. Dare or Double Dare) (1987-2000; 2013). Aired on SBT. Hosted by Brazilian TV legend Silvio Santos (1987-1988); Gugo Liberato (1988–1994); Angélica (1995–1996); and Celso Portiolli (1996–2000; 2013-Present).
    • From Great Britain: Aired from 1987-1992 on the BBC as a segment on Going Live. Peter Simon was the host.
    • From Australia: Aired on the Ten Network for 3 years from 1989-1992. Each season had a different host (Gerry Sont, Tom Jennings, and Simon Watt respectively — the last one had previously served as The Announcer). This version was the most identical to the American original, in terms of set design and music. There was also a primetime Family version, but this one was even less successful, running only 3 episodes in 1989, with Larry Emdur as host.
    • From Netherlands: DD Show (1989-1990). Hosted by Norbert Netten and aired on TROS.
    • From Canada French: Double Défi (1989-1991). Hosted by Gilles Payer and aired on TVA.
    • From Germany: Drops! (1991-1994). Hosted by Jürgen Blaschke and aired on Sat.1.
    • From India: Nick Dum Duma Dum (2004). Hosted by Vrajesh Hirjee and aired on Nickelodeon India.
  • Underwear Flag:
    • The 1992 season of Family had a raft with one of these as a means of getting across New Lake Double Dare.
    • Also present in the 2018 reboot obstacle One Nation Underwear in which a contestant must pull boxer shorts up a flagpole to bring down the flag that they need to pass to their partner.
  • Undesirable Prize: Flip-flopped. Like other Nickelodeon game shows of the early 90s, one of the grand prizes in the 1992 season of Family was a trip to Universal Studios... where the show was taped. This meant the ultimate reward for running through gak and slime was seeing the same things in the park all over again. Then again, Marc Summers has said that most of the contestants didn't care about what they won insomuch as they just relished the opportunity to run through the obstacle course and get messy. Plus, the amount of time filming an episode would eat up a lot of time, necessitating an extra day to see the rest of the park.
  • Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: In the original run, this was most often done on the third question of the game to induce a physical challenge. It didn't always work, though.
    • In 2000, this was more or less done intentionally in the second round due to the main mechanic of the second round's physical challenge, the "Triple Dare Challenge".
  • Valentine's Day Episodes: Two of them; one in 1987 and one 1989. The first one aired as a Saturday evening special on the appropriate Holiday.
  • Very Special Episode: There have been a few episodes with differently able individuals competing. For example, an episode of Family Double Dare featured wheelchair athletes competing. There was also a 2000 episode which featured Special Olympics athletes.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Double Dare 2000 made it a habit to remind the viewers on every single show that they had the all-new Triple! Dare! Challenge!
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Marc and Harvey were not shy about expressing their disdain for what they felt were some of the weaker ideas for themed episodes. For example, when the production staff bought a pink blazer while buying clothes for physical challenges, they "justified" the purchase by building a Super Sloppy episode around Miami Vice and giving Marc the pink blazer to wear. Marc makes no effort to hide how silly he finds the idea each time he explains it, and Harvey closes the episode by inviting the viewer to see "whatever other dumb idea the producers come up with for a theme show."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Marc Summers did a show that got very messy despite suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, though he didn't know he had it during the show's run.
  • William Telling: The show had two variants. One had a contestant attempting to knock a plastic apple off a pedestal while spraying a bottle of seltzer at a teammate. Another had contestants shooting plunger arrows at fake apples which would target a bucket of slime to fall on their family members.
  • Womb Level: Several of the obstacles: "Pick-It" (a giant nose); "Down the Hatch" and later "Big Gulp" (huge mouths, the latter being a Sundae Slide retool); "In One Ear" (a big head filled with "earwax"). "Foot Locker"/"Toe Jam", a huge foot, may also qualify somewhat.
  • Worth It: This tended to be the reaction of kids on Family Double Dare when they got to slime their parents, even if they didn't get any money for it.
  • Writing Lines: Some Super Sloppy episodes had a Physical Challenge where contestants had to stick graduation caps on a chalkboard. To introduce the challenge, Marc would have to stop Harvey and Robin from writing "I will not watch Fun House" on it.
  • "YEAH!" Shot: Marc and Harvey do one at the end of The Inside Slop. They jump into The Tank, and their poses are frozen during the credit scroll.

Alternative Title(s): Double Dare 2000