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Series / Duel

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The logo of the show's American version.
Let's Duel!

Duel is a Game Show created in France, originally running on ABC in the United States (from December 2007 to July 2008) and ITV in the United Kingdom (from February to April 2008). The French version premiered on France 2 several months later, and aired in that country until 2013. It has spun off versions in several other countries as well, usually most closely resembling the UK and French versions. In particular, Spain had its own version which was able to be viewed internationally via here.

The show pits two contestants against each other in a head-to-head quiz. Both players are given 10 chips at the start of the duel, which they use to select answers. Each question is multiple-choice with four answers, A through D, and is asked to both players simultaneously (a rule change for the French version in 2013 reduced the number of answer choices per question to three). Contestants stand on opposite ends of a podium with a screen in the middle, which displays the question and also blocks their view of their opponent. Each side of the podium has four indentations marked A through D, and each contestant may cover any answers they think might be correct (though every question only has one correct answer).

The first contestant to lock in has the option of putting time pressure on their opponent, known as a Press in the U.S. version and an Accelerator in the British version. When used, a Press or Accelerator puts a seven-second time limit on the opponent, who is automatically locked if they haven't already when time runs out. Each contestant could use this twice per duel (once in the U.S. version's second season).

Once both contestants are locked in, the screen is lowered to let them see each other's choices. Then, the answer is revealed, and chips placed on incorrect answers are lost. If a player covered the correct answer, he/she gets that chip back and stays in the game, while failure to cover the correct answer results in an immediate loss. If only one player covers the right answer, he/she wins the duel and continues as the reigning champion. On the British version, if both players fail to cover the correct answer, it results in a double loss. On the U.S. version and the French version, this triggered a sudden-death Shootout question, where both players get four chips, and if both answer correctly, the player who used fewer chips wins; if both players failed to cover the correct answer on that question, they were eliminated from the game with no winnings.

Chips lost to incorrect answers were initially added to a progressive jackpot; beginning in the U.S. version's second season, the value of a Duel was determined based on how many questions were played and could be doubled in a bonus round. In the UK version and the French version, players who won four Duels in a row won the jackpot (which was worth €100,000 in the French version and later reduced to €50,000) and retired undefeated, while the U.S. version's second season required five wins (this convention was also used in the Hungarian version); accomplishing this feat increased the champion's winnings to $500,000. In the first season of the U.S. version, the four players with the longest consecutive win streaks (with ties broken by the amounts of money they won) returned on the season finale to play a single-elimination tournament for the jackpot.

Not to be confused with the South Korean drama series of the same name.

This show provides examples of:

  • Action Commands: Twice per game (once in the second US season), both contestants can "Press"/"Accelerate" their opponent after locking their answers in, giving the opponent a sudden 7-second time limit to answer themselves. This effectively turns what should be a thoughtful decision-making process into an extremely short Timed Mission.
    • On the UK version, constestants must lock in their answers before Accelerating; doing so before locking in would essentially waste the Accelerator (with the sounding of a short harsh error-tone played twice). On the US and French versions, Pressing automatically locks in the answers.
  • All or Nothing:
    • Initially on the UK version, contestants who answered a single question incorrectly went home empty-handed. After 4 episodes of every winner bailing out at the first opportunity, this was changed so that there was no risk at all in playing on (and thus no bailout option). Strangely, the U.S. version changed from the no-risk format in Season 1 to the All or Nothing format in Season 2.
    • During Season 2 in the US, champions who lost after three or more victories forfeited half their winnings. Those who lost before this point gave up all their money. After every victory, a champion had the option to quit the game and keep all their winnings.
  • Bonus Round: Three different ones: one on the UK version, one on the French version, and one on the U.S. version's second season.
    • On the UK version, repeat champions got to play a bonus question with the Accelerator's 7-second time limit after their 2nd win for £10,000, and another after their 3rd win for up to £20,000. Answering the question correctly using only 1 chip awarded the full amount, 1/2 the amount for 2 chips, or 1/4 the amount for 3 chips, and there was no penalty for failure. Players got to keep their winnings from these questions no matter what happened later. This format was used in the French version of the show from 2009 to 2011, and was adopted internationally.
    • The U.S. version's second season adopted a slightly different format; after each Duel, the winner was given 1 chip and 7 seconds to play a "Max Question". Correctly answering the question doubled their winnings from the previous Duel. Unlike the UK version, players could lose the money by losing a subsequent Duel.
    • In the French version, from 2012 to 2013, the winner of the duel played a 7-question rapid-fire bonus round. Answering all 7 questions awarded the contestant €50,000 and retired the player from the show; this round was later expanded to 9 questions. There was no penalty for failing to complete this bonus round.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Let's Duel!", said by the host at the start of each Duel.
    • And "You're watching Duel on ABC," to an extent.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Like many game shows of the time, this was used quite liberally.
    • It even played with it one time; after the contestants had locked in their choices for one question:
      Contestant: Of course, now we'll have to wait until after the commercial.
      Greenberg: Just for that... (cue commercial)
  • Confetti Drop: Pyrotechnics were triggered for a jackpot win in the U.S. version's first season and the UK version, confetti and streamers were used on the U.S. version's second season and in other international versions.
  • Enforced Plug: For Pepsi Max in both seasons of the U.S. version.
  • Game Show Host: Mike Greenberg on the U.S. version, Nick Hancock on the UK version. In the French version, there were three hosts: Tania Young (2008), Julien Courbet (2009 to 2012), and Bruno Guillon (2013).
  • Lovely Assistant: The "chip girls" were exclusive to the U.S. version. This was averted in all other versions, which used a mechanized podium to automatically collect and distribute the chips.
    • Season 1: Olivia Fox & Jennifer Aguero.
    • Season 2: Erin Elizabeth & Anastacia McPherson.
  • Progressive Jackpot: The jackpot started at $20,000 in the first season of the U.S. version and increased by $5,000 for every poker chip that was placed on a wrong answer throughout the duration of the season. The winner of the tournament received the entire value of the progressive jackpot, along with any bonuses for winning multiple duels. A similar rule was used for the UK version, where the jackpot started at £100,000 and increased by £1,000 for every chip that was placed on an incorrect answer until someone won 4 duels in a row. The progressive jackpot was not present in the second season of the U.S. version and was subsequently dropped from all international versions of the show.
  • Promotional Consideration: Pepsi Max in the U.S. version.
  • Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?":
    • The show itself shows many symptoms of this.
    • The top prize of the show was a jackpot valued at $1,000,000 or more in the U.S. version's first season. This was partially averted for the U.S. version's second season, where the top prize was decreased to $500,000.