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Series / Idiotest

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GSN original Game Show hosted by comedian Ben Gleib based on popular internet "brain teaser" puzzles which can make people say "Man, I'm an idiot!"

In the game, two pairs of contestants face a touchscreen with a simple instruction (Example: Touch the device that will definitely let you see through walls). There are several items to touch, but the correct item is usually not obvious (the picture might have X-ray glasses, an infrared camera, binoculars, a telescope, and a window in the background...which would be the correct answer, because a window definitely lets you see through a wall).

In the main game, each contestant starts with a set amount of money per question, which drops by a set amount for each second until the money is gone and replaced by the word "Idiot". In the first round, each team works together to find the answer (two $300 questions with $20 deducted per second). In Round 2, each player is given an individual puzzle, starting at $500 and decreasing by $25 each second. In Round 3, individual players from each team duel over the same puzzle, the first of which starts at $1,000 and decreases by $50 per second, and the second starts at $2,500 and decreases by $100 per second. In all cases, touching the correct answer earns the team the money left, while a wrong answer earns nothing.


The winners then move on to the "Smart Money Round". One player is sequestered offstage while the other player takes the final test. The two players have a combined 30 seconds (40 seconds in the third season) to answer; when the first player locks in, the other player takes the same test with whatever time is left. If one player gets this right, the team earns an additional $1,000, but if both get it right, they win $10,000.

Idiotest ran for four seasons, debuting on August 12, 2014 and concluding on August 30, 2017.


Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: The Smart Money Round.
  • Carried by the Host: Most of the show's charm is based on Ben's irreverent hosting style.
  • Golden Snitch: Averted. The first three rounds' questions plus the first head-to-head round add up to $2,600. It's incredibly unlikely anyone would be able to lock out anyone else before the final question, however, and the $2,500 (or more likely $1,500-$2,000) can still be enough to overcome large deficits.
  • Personnel:
  • Game Show Host: Comedian and Chelsea Lately panelist Ben Gleib.

This show contains examples of:

  • Catchphrase: "Your (first/next/final) Idiotest begins now."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gleib, full stop.
  • Double Meaning: A common trick used is that a word will be used but requires the contestant to know a somewhat less common meaning of it. For example, a question might require the contestant to interpret the word "habit" as "a set of religious garments" rather than "a behavioral pattern".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first season had quite a few notable differences from later seasons:
    • A single screen was shared between both teams, instead of each team having their own screen. The head-to-head round simply stuck a divider in the middle, with each team using half of the screen.
    • The test design was much more freeform, with questions sometimes incorporated into the test itself. Later seasons used a more standard format, with the question almost always contained in its own banner.
    • The first two taped episodes used a different bonus round; the winning team had to correctly solve five tests in 60 seconds, with five-second penalties for wrong answers. Each correct answer was worth $500 and stopped the clock. This proved to be nigh-impossible; the most either team could manage was two puzzles.
      • The Smart Money round originally had a time limit of 30 seconds. When this too proved too difficult, the time limit was upped to 40 seconds in season 3.
  • Exact Words: A very good number of the questions must be read literally to be solved.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Some questions are worded in a way to make you overthink them and thus ignore the incredibly obvious correct answer.
  • Idiot Ball: The questions are designed to give this to each contestant.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Deliberately invoked - if something in the picture looks out of place or otherwise irrelevant to the question, it's the correct answer as often as not.
  • Lucky Charms Title: In a way; the second "I" in the logo is upside-down.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: A staple of the show. Simply put, if you can't think outside of the box, you will not be successful.
  • Nintendo Hard / Brutal Bonus Level: The Smart Money Round.
    • One of the winning contestants appears on the stage, while the other is offscreen. They have 30 (later 40) seconds to answer the same test. If they pick different answers and one of them is right, an extra $1k would be added to their winnings. But if they both pick the same answer and get it right, they win $10,000. Sound easy, right? Wrong. It was actually very difficult for two reasons.
      • The "test" in question is almost always a Moon Logic Puzzle taken Up to Eleven.
      • For example: A map of the United States with the caption: "Touch the state that includes a six-letter state." The answer is Arkansas; Ar-KANSAS.
      • The second contestant does not get 30/40 seconds to answer; they get whatever time the first contestant had left. So if the first contestant dawdles too long and leaves only 10 seconds...
  • Quote Mine: One early commercial plugging Idiotest plays this trope for laughs.
    Announcer: The reviews are in, and the critics are raving! The New York Times calls it "...a new game show..."
    Gleib: Aces!
    Announcer: The Boston Globe finds it "...on TV Tuesday night..."
    Gleib: At least for you watching at home.
    Announcer: OK! Magazine adds, " 9:00 p.m...."
  • Red Herring: Several questions involve potential answers being listed explicitly, only for the correct answer to be some other minor detail on the screen that's completely separate from the list.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: This sometimes happens when people guess the puzzle but don't use the right reasoning. This is especially notable in one of the Christmas episodes in which both teams guessed the answer right, but because of the smile on the head - this was a cause of I Never Said It Was Poison.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Invoked in cases where a subtle misspelling completely changes the answer to the question.
  • What the Hell, Player?: When a contestant runs out of time, the clock changes to show the word "IDIOT" in big letters. Using round 1 as an example: "$60... $40... $20... IDIOT"


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