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Series / Finders Keepers

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"If you can find the [object] hidden in this picture, then you could win a run through our prize-filled house, where what you find is what you keep on Finders Keepers!"
Harvey at the start of each show.

Following the wild success of their first Game Show, Double Dare, Nickelodeon rolled out this show that fulfilled every kid's fantasy of tearing up his bedroom...and the kitchen...and the bathroom...and the sewer.

Finders Keepers was split into two rounds. In the first half of each round, players had to identify hidden pictures to earn money and the right to search one of eight rooms in the life-sized house built onstage. In the second half of the round, teams had 30 seconds to ransack the room in play to find a hidden object that matched a clue read by the host. Finding the object awarded additional money, but failing to do so (or picking a wrong object) gave the cash to the other team. Some of the rooms were normal, such as the living room and bathroom; others were "fantasy" rooms like the Toy Shop, Dracula's Den, and the Fairy Tale Room. The team in the lead after Round 2 won and went on a Room-to-Room Romp through the house in hope of winning more prizes.

The United Kingdom had its own version of the show a few years later on CITV, with several changes to the format; there were no hidden pictures (the teams would earn the right to search rooms by matching clues to answers on a "Memory" style board or playing a toss-up search in the Garage), the Super Search covered all eight rooms instead of just six, and the teams played for points instead of money due to (then-current) UK broadcasting regulations governing cash prizes on children's series. A revival presented by Jeff Brazier was produced in 2006

Not to be confused with the Urban Fantasy webcomic of the same name.

"Trope it!":

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: One of the room additions to the Toffler house was a room-sized sewer. At least one episode featured a crew member dressed as The Honeymooners' Ed Norton in the room.
  • Aerith and Bob: Eure invoked this trope in a 1987 episode featuring contestants named Amin, Leila, Ingrid, and... Mike. He joked that Mike would have to change his name, as it wasn't funny enough.
  • Ancient Tomb: One of the rooms that debuted in the second Eure season was an Egyptian-style tomb.
  • The Announcer: (John) Harvey, Bob Lorman, Joe Conklin, and Harry Stephens (USA), Jeremy Stevens (UK).
  • Anti-Climax: Some of the Romps never really got going, with the contestants finding only two or even just one clue card; this could be particularly painful to watch if the rest of the episode had either been a Curb-Stomp Battle or gone right to the wire. On at least two occasions in the Toffler era, the winning team found the first clue card in less than 10 seconds, but then spent over 80 seconds in a fruitless search for the second card due to a misunderstanding of the clue.
  • Blatant Lies: The prizes aren't actually in the house, despite the intro mentioning "our prize-filled house" and saying "what you find is what you keep".note 
  • Bonus Round: The Room-to-Room Romp: The winning team has ninety seconds to find six objects in six rooms using Linked List Clue Methodology. The first clue, given by the host, describes a specific object on which a clue card attached to it. Each card found by the contestants directed them to the next room, as well as the clue for that room. Prizes of increasing value were awarded leading to a grand prize for finding all six before time ran out.
  • Bonus Space: One of the four rooms in Round 2 was dubbed the Instant Prize Room; finding the hidden object here resulted in that team winning a prize that was often bigger than the grand prize in the Romp.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Subverted, as the contents would usually come out of cabinets, boxes on top of shelves, the ceiling, etc.
  • Catchphrase: "FIND IT!" (or, occasionally in the early episodes, "Trash it!", USA), "Whose house? OUR HOUSE!!!!!" (UK).
  • Celebrity Edition: The syndicated version, along with the syndicated Double Dare and Fun House (1988), set aside a couple of weeks to pair young TV stars with civilian contestants (David Faustino and Brian Austin Green for one week, Josie Davis and Emily Schulman for the other week).
  • Christmas Episode: This pair of episodes from the first Eure season. A third episode had a similar setup except that each room represented a different holiday.
  • Collapsing Ceiling Boss: Entire shelves would collapse in the Toffler era, to the point where the room trashed itself more than the kids actually trashed it.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Red Team vs. the Blue Team.
  • Consolation Prize: When the Finders Keepers Home Game hit the market in 1988, losing teams would be given a copy as a consolation prize, as well as other assorted toys, games, or confectionery.
  • Covered in Gunge: Surprisingly averted, for the most part. The Pastry Shop was really the only room where the contestants risked getting messy, although there were several rooms where they could get sprayed with or fall into water, and every once in a while the object or clue was buried in a pit or bucket of slime. However, both hosts have fallen victim to messy pranks by the staff on occasion while in the house. Eure was hit by whipped cream from a spray can by a crew member hiding in a large vase, while Toffler was hit with a bucket of the green stuff from above.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Several Toffler episodes in particular, one of which had a final score of $975-$25 (out of a possible $1,000).
  • Depraved Dentist: In the second Eure season, Frankenstein's Lab was occasionally furnished as Frankenstein's Dental Office, with a torture chair instead of the usual slab and a sign on the wall reading "V. Frankenstein, D.D.S."
  • Don't Try This at Home: Mindful of the fact that young viewers might be tempted to hide objects and invite friends or siblings to turn their house upside-down to look for them, the producers had the hosts, particularly Eure, point out that the contestants wore protective gear during the Romp, and that the plates, vases, etc. were made of easily breakable clay rather than something more durable (and hence more dangerous when broken) like glass or ceramic. At one point, Eure even broke a plate over his own head to show that there was no risk of injury.
    "So that's why you can't do this at home - only on Finders Keepers."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The hidden pictures round in the Eure era had a few differences in the first episodes to be filmed. The pictures themselves appeared without the wind chime sound effect used later, while missed objects were circled with a yellow telestrator pen rather than indicated by darkening the picture except for a light circle around the object. The contestant interviews also happened at the beginning of the first round rather than after the second picture clue.
    • The very earliest taped episodes featured no pink paint around the hall window on the top floor and no score displays during the room searches, as well as unusual room configurations - one episode featured what might be the only appearance of the Kids' Room prior to the second Eure season, while another episode or two had a principal's office as a room, never to be seen again afterwards. Some of the sound effects differed as well; for example, the "winning" bell was used to signal the Instant Prize Room. And while the instant prizes for most of the 1987 season were trips to either Walt Disney World or Space Camp, some of the very earliest episodes featured portable televisions or phone/answering machines as the instant prize.
    • The earliest Toffler episodes mainly stuck with rooms from the end of the Eure run, a limited music selection and with Stephens having a much more subdued announcing style. The Hidden Picture buzzers used either the original doorbell sound effect or a generic "buzz-in" sound before evolving into the updated doorbell effect. The hidden object indicator, when it was used, was also slightly different than the bold "X" superimposed onto a picture of the room (either a different "X" or a triangle).
  • Game Show Host: Wesley Eure, then Larry Toffler. Neil Buchanan (of "Art Attack" fame) and Jeff Brazier in the UK.
  • Golden Snitch: The entire scoring system. Each time a team failed to find the object in the room search round, the dollar value for that attempt was awarded to the opposing team; as such, teams that were perfect at the Hidden Pictures round but always failed when searching rooms would hand their opponents the win without doing a damn thingnote . In fact, the scoring format makes it possible for one team to do nothing and win the game. This can be accomplished by the other team getting all eight Hidden Pictures questions correct and failing to find every item (or every item except one worth $50) in the room searches.note 
  • Hidden Object Game: Half the game was finding hidden pictures, the other half was finding hidden objects.
  • Home Game: A board game was produced, complete with a Hidden Pictures book and eight cardboard boxes as the "rooms".
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes:
    • One of the configurations of the Living Room in the 1987 Eure season was birthday party-themed, and one episode with this setup supposedly took place on Wesley's birthday; the clue for the room was in his birthday card (read by Harvey), and the hidden object was his gift from the crew: a stereotypical game show host's loud and tacky sport jacket, which he confessed to the home audience he hated. Harvey gave his closing spiel wearing the coat, saying that Wesley might not like it, but he did.
    • Carried over to the second Eure season, when Wesley wore suits, some of which were in "interesting" taste to say the least... often with the sleeves rolled up on the jacket.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: The studio audience were not shy about groaning at really bad puns in picture titles or clues; for example, in a 1988 Eure episode, one hidden picture showed a chef tossing a salad, and Wesley said the picture wasn't ready as the salad was "just getting dressed". Cue Collective Groan from the audience and Wesley saying he didn't write it.
  • Large Ham: Harry Stephens, the final announcer, really leaned into each word during his opening spiel. "Iiiif YOU can find the LOBSTER hidden in this picture!!..." ...And then fell flat halfway through the most important parts of the spiel — "FINDERrrrrrrrs keepers" and "LARRyyyyyyyy toffler".
  • Lovely Assistant: The "Finders Keepers Keeper" - Mindy on Eure's version, Kelly on Toffler's. In both cases she was an African-American woman who helped out in the house and modeled some of the prizes.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The Romp during the Eure era (the Closet in particular derailed many Romps due to the sheer number of hiding places). Inverted many times in the Toffler era, as most of the clue cards could be seen before the kids even entered the room.
    • In one 1987 episode, the second hidden picture showed three birds in a nest, and all but one of the hidden items were concealed in the shapes of the branches and leaves. Eure described the picture as "one of the hardest ones I've ever seen on Finders Keepers."note 
  • Nobody Poops:
    • None of the bathrooms in the American version had toilets; Harvey even lampshaded this in one of his "Let's take a look at the rooms" spiels with "The world famous Finders Keepers bathroom - toilet not included!" That didn't keep them from being referenced, though.
    • Averted in the UK version, in which the bathroom did feature a toilet.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Completely averted. The winning team always wore helmets and elbow/knee pads during the Romp, and Eure often commented about the emphasis on safety and the use of materials that would not hurt anyone. He even took a plate from the Kitchen and smashed it over his own head without injury to make the point. Not that the contestants necessarily took note of this; for example, in a 1987 episode, one contestant struggled to get the hidden object, a bottle of cough syrup, out of a vase in the Dining Room, and brought the whole vase to Eure... who promptly smashed it with his fist and held up the cough syrup for confirmation from the judges.
  • Oddball in the Series: The only Nick game show not to return to the network after its syndicated run (unlike Double Dare), and the only one for many years that taped in Los Angeles (all the others taped either in Philadelphia or Orlando, with Make the Grade taping in New York before moving to Orlando; BrainSurge would be Nick's first LA-based game since the syndicated FK ended).
  • Opening Narration: Whoever the announcer, his opening spiel would always be "If you can find the [object] hidden in this picture, then you could win a run through our prize-filled house, where what you find is what you keep, on... Finders Keepers!"
  • Player Nudge: Guessing an incorrect item in the room search meant the other team instantly claimed the money. If the host sees a contestant holding a wrong item, he will ask "Is that your answer?" or "Are you sure?" as a hint to guess something else.
  • Product Displacement: In a 1988 Eure episode, the Romp clue in the Pastry Shop was "This box contains a baker's dozen." A box that was clearly from Dunkin Donuts was concealed on one of the shelves, but the word "Dunkin" had been pasted over to just leave "Donuts" on the box.
  • Product Placement: Mr. Gameshownote , and some of the items in the store-based rooms, especially the Toy Shop.
  • Promotional Consideration: Every player got to keep the pair of Converse sneakers he/she wore on the show, just as Double Dare contestants kept their Reeboks. Also, every crew member (including the host) wore a pair of the company's shoes. Converse, meanwhile, would get a plug in the announcer's closing spiel at the end of the episode.
  • Rules Spiel: With minor variations, the rules spiels went more or less as follows.
    • Eure era: "In our Hidden Pictures round, being first to correctly circle what's hidden will get you $25 and earn you the right to search a room, where if you can find the hidden object, we'll give you $50, but remember, if you don't find the object, the fifty bucks goes to the other team, and it's the team with the most money at the end of the game that goes on that wild Room-to-Room Romp where you can win some great prizes. When we reveal the hidden picture, the teams will have ten seconds. When they think they know what we're looking for, they'll buzz in and circle as fast as they can." The latter two sentences were dropped for the 1988 series.
    • Toffler era: "Here's how Finders Keepers works: In our hidden picture round, the first team to match the clue with what's hidden wins you $25. They also win the right to search a room; if they find the object in the room, they get $50. If they don't, the money goes to the other team. The team with the most money at the end of the game wins, and they get to go on a wild Room-to-Room Romp through our house for some terrific prizes."
  • Ransacked Room: The premise of the show: find the hidden object by turning the room upside-down, and don't be afraid to make a mess while doing so.note 
  • The Scrooge: One episode from the first Eure season had Wesley and Harvey imply that producer Michael Klinghoffer was a bit of a penny-pincher, using the "birthday party" configuration of the Living Room to get a free birthday party for his wife Judy.note 
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show the Folks at Home: During the room searches in the Eure version, the camera would occasionally zoom towards the object's hiding place, and Eure himself sometimes pointed out objects Hidden in Plain Sight, or made some sort of comment (such as "You saw that at home, didn't you?") if the contestants emptied out the hiding place but did not actually notice the object. On the Toffler version, an indicator popped up on screen with an "X" marking where the object was hidden. The UK version combined both approaches; initially, an indicator would appear on the screen to show where the object was hidden, but if time was running low, host Neil Buchanan would try to clue the players in to the object's location (sometimes all but telling them exactly where to look).
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: "Hurry" variant in the Romp, to an extent. The music started out at a relaxed tempo, twice as slow as the "room search" cues used during the main game, but then doubled up to match that speed with just over 30 seconds to go. Also counts as a "Nearing the End" variant in both the normal searches and the Romp, with a key-change up every few seconds.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Camouflage (regarding the hidden pictures) and Jackpot (with the riddles given to point the kids toward the objects they needed to find).
  • SteadiCam: The version hosted by Eure used one on the top floor of the house.
  • Think Music: During the Eure era, the Hidden Pictures round would feature a "circling" theme (a snippet of which accompanied the announcer's opening "If you can find the [object] hidden in this picture..." spiel) after Wesley read a clue and waited for one of the teams to buzz in. Less prominent in the Toffler era, when it would be replaced by a drumbeat as soon as the teams buzzed in (which often happened as soon as Larry finished reading the clue).
  • Tiebreaker Round: If the game ended in a tie after two rounds, a shortened hidden pictures round was played with the first to two correct answers moving to the Room-to-Room Romp.
  • Time Keeps On Ticking: During the Romp, once the clock started, it ran continuously, even while teams were moving on to the next room. This put a premium on getting to the next room quickly. A wrong turn, especially when moving to the upper floor or lower floor could end up torpedoing the team. More blatant in the UK version, where the host would often hold up the team until they shouted out the answer to the clue. In the US, the host would read the clue and let the team get on with it (occasionally asking the team what they were looking for as they were going about it). Good thing, too, since 90 seconds is quite brutal enough without the team having to shout out the answer.
  • Timed Mission: The individual room searches (30 seconds), and the Romp especially (6 rooms in 90 seconds in the US; all 8 rooms in 3 or 4 minutes in the UK).
  • Undesirable Prize: Too many to list. The Franklin Word Wiz (a staple of Double Dare and even Remote Control), a microwave that only popped popcorn, and one backpack were just a few.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Could be set up this way. Failing to find an item in the room searches means the money goes to the other team. In theory, a pair of contestants can sweep the Hidden Pictures rounds and bomb every room search, giving their opponents the right to advance to the bonus round by doing nothing. This never happened in its run.
  • Younger and Hipper: According to Wesley's website, the reason they replaced him with Larry.