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"The choices are yours, and yours alone."
— One of Olmec's many catchphrases.
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Long ago, in the distant era of the 1990s, a children's television network with studios in Orlando (at the time) was starting to rise in popularity. They created and promoted many programs in multiple media, from Live-Action TV to Western Animation. During this time, they decided to seize the popularity of the Game Show — television programs where individuals or groups participated for currency or grand items. The network created a world where the boundary between video games and reality vanished and a studio where insanity came in the form of green goop and obstacle courses. But it was not enough...

They decided to hire a glorious and adventurous man to take charge of their next project, known by mortals as Kirk Fogg. The set was then created from various props and endless construction, proudly showing off its Temple of Doom theme. A duo of producers, Scott Stone and David Stanley, known for their own counterpart to the green goop in the form of a house, and a wacky, 2-story shopping center came onboard the project. Finally, the rules were written after endless brainstorming, allowing six pairs of children to go through treacherous pits, climb high walls, and venture into a dangerous and difficult tomb which includes the King's Storeroom, the Observatory, and the Shrine of the Silver Monkey... I, Olmec, stand before this creation, spouting my vast knowledge of mystic legends and guiding the players for their rewards.

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Now this area where literary devices found in various media are recorded has chosen this program. It is up to you to find those devices that fit, using your memory and research skills. The choices are yours, and yours alone!

It also seems that my legend was made into a movie for the small screen 21 years after the closure of my original tales and challenges. This one expands on my backstory of my people and I and the brave escapades of three youths who venture into my temple and brave its dangers to restore my kingdom and save it from one of my treacherous sons. It premiered on the day of Thanksgiving in the sixth year of the 2010's. A year later, Kirk Fogg and I appeared in animated form in a special crossover episode of The Loud House. 8 years after that crossover, it was announced that adults who had grown up hearing the legends would get a chance to attempt to make their way through the temple in a reboot exclusive to Quibi. After the service shut down in December 2020, The CW took on reins for the reboot. It premiered in October 2021 with Cristela Alonzo hosting.

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In all three seasons, Legends used this format:

  • The Moat: Six two-person teams enter the Temple, but must complete a race across a narrow pool of water. The first four to cross and ring their team's gong advance to the next round. Very often, even touching the water once would cause a team to have to start again from scratch. The 2021 reboot cuts this down to four teams, with the first three to cross the moat going onto the next round.
  • The Legend: Olmec tells the contestants (and the audience) about the legend in question. Invariably, the legend mentions an artifact belonging to a major historical figure which somehow "made its way into the Temple" after the owner's passing. At the end of the legend, Kirk asks where the artifact can be found, and Olmec tells the contestants which room of the temple it can be found in.
    • The Steps of Knowledge: A trivia round, with teams being given questions about Olmec's legend, as well as basic trivia about the places mentioned in the legend. Each correct answer lets the contestants take one step down the Steps of Knowledge; three correct answers are enough to win one of the two spots in the next round. Cue the first commercial break.
  • The Temple Games: A series of three competitive physical contests, usually themed around the legend, which will net the team who wins a "Pendant of Life". The first two games are worth a half-pendant each and involve one player from each team, while the last game is worth a full pendant of life and involves both players from each team (and usually determines which team wins). If the teams tie in a game, they both receive that game's pendant. If there is a tie, Kirk/Olmec ask a general trivia tiebreaking question (in the first season, getting the question wrong meant losing the quest immediately). Cue the second commercial break. The 2021 reboot cuts this down to two Temple Games, each being worth a full pendant of life with the Sudden Death round also being worth one full pendant.
  • Olmec's Temple: After the announcer describes the Promotional Considerations and Olmec describes the rooms, the teams get three minutes (or 4 minutes in the 2021 reboot) to try to make it into the temple, grab the artifact, and make it out. The temple is a two-story twelve-room maze; all doors are locked initially, and most rooms have a logic puzzle that must be solved before any doors which can be unlocked will unlock. Grabbing the artifact instantly unlocks all doors and banishes any remaining Temple Guards (and nets the team a second prize); making it out of the temple before time runs out nets you the grand prize (in early seasons, a trip to Space Camp). Cue credits. The 2021 reboot awards $2,500 for the first consolation prize, $10,000 for getting to the artifact, and $25,000 for escaping the temple with the artifact.
    • Temple Guards: Three rooms in the Temple also have Temple Guards; you don't know where they are until the run begins. If you have a whole Pendant of Life, you can bribe the temple guard with it; if not, you are dragged out of the temple, and your partner gets to try to finish with whatever time remains. If the team that goes to the Temple has only one or one-and-a-half Pendant(s), they only have protection against two of the guards, and running into the third will usually end the game. To help them out, the teams with only one Pendant have more choices of paths to avoid the third guard, while the teams with one-and-a-half Pendants can find an extra half so that their second player can bribe the last guard with a full Pendant. The 2021 reboot Temple Games round is set up to always give teams two full pendants, meaning it's impossible for a Temple Guard to end the run.

You accept? Then onward to the Chamber of Tropes!


Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: The Temple itself is an extra stage after the teams have competed against each other.
  • Carried by the Host: Olmec is the star of both the original and CW version.
  • Consolation Prize: Every contestant was given one. Most notably, the team who made it to the Temple got one just for getting inside. With the exception of the Silver Snakesnote , all contestants got to keep the shirts they wore. The 2021 version also had branded swag like backpacks and water bottles for those who failed Rounds 2 and 3.
  • Covered in Gunge: Done exactly once, with The Paintbrush of Leonardo Da Vinci, unless the soapy water they used to make the track slick in some of the Temple Games counts. Otherwise, the worst a contestant could get was wet.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • It's highly possible to make it to the temple with only 1.5 pendants. Since half a pendant doesn't count as a hit point, the last half the team needs will be placed in the temple, usually early on.
    • As mentioned under Golden Snitch, if you're doing really bad, it's possible to enter with only one pendant. In order to still give them a fighting chance, the team can (in theory) avoid more of the Temple Guards.
  • Golden Snitch: The 1-1-2 variety but is downplayed in that most teams winning via tiebreaker would find themselves at a disadvantage in the Temple, since most tiebreakers were with the teams each receiving just one pendant, and only having one pendant would render the group helpless against the third Temple Guard. Fortunately, teams that enter with one pendant seem to have more paths open to them, allowing easier access to the artifact.
  • Home Game: One was released by Pressman in 2017, as a Target exclusive.
  • Personnel:
  • Promotional Consideration
  • Rules Spiel: Every word that came out of Kirk Fogg or Cristela Alonzo's mouth are either rules or commentary on the game currently being played. Olmec's walkthrough of the temple also qualifies.
  • "Simon Says" Mini-Game: The Steamy Hollows in the CW version has this type of challenge.
  • Show the Folks at Home: When the room the artifact of the day was hidden in was announced by Olmec, the camera would pan to a close-up of the artifact sitting in the room in question. On Seasons 2 and 3, a diagram of the Temple was displayed onscreen during the run with a flashing yellow dot indicating the artifact's location.
    • This was averted on one occasion, in the season 2 episode The Secret Battle Plan of Nathan Hale. The first three rounds (Moat, Steps of Knowledge, Temple Games) of the episode were taped on the first filming day of the season. At this point, the artifact was intended to be hidden in the Throne Room (while this was never outright specified, the artifact can be seen in the room during the Temple Games). For unknown reasons, the taping of the temple run was postponed and rescheduled for later in the season. By the time the run was able to be taped, the Throne Room had been replaced with the Laser Light Room, so the artifact was relocated to the Shrine of the Silver Monkey. However, also for unknown reasons, instead of quickly filming a close-up of the Battle Plan in the Shrine, the shot of the Shrine normally used during Olmec's rundown of the temple's rooms was used instead.
  • Sudden Death: If two teams were tied for pendants after all three of Olmec's Temple Games, they go to the Sudden Death Podium and answer Olmec's final question to advance to Olmec's Temple Race. In the first season, if they were incorrect, their opponent automatically won. After that, the rule changed so that the other team would have to answer it correctly. The 2021 version keeps the same rules, but subtracts a Temple Game so teams can only win full pendants.
  • Timed Mission: The Temple Games normally last one minute. For the Temple Run at the end of the game, the team has three minutes (four in the reboot) to race through the temple, reach the treasure, and bring it back through the gate before the timer runs out.
  • Think Music: The music used for the Steps of Knowledge.
  • Undesirable Prize: Hey, even if you don't get to go to Space Camp, you can get a consolation prize like a savings bond.
    • One of the Season 2 prizes for getting inside the Temple was a Watara Supervision, widely considered to be the worst handheld video game system of all time.
    • Among the prizes in the Season 3 Temple rotation was a Philips CD-i. Yes, the same CD-i that is home to such titles as The Legend Of Zelda C Di Games and Hotel Mario.
    • For failing to cross the moat in the 2021 reboot, the losing team only gets to keep their team shirts. Even in the original, the teams got to get their shirts as well as a second consolation prize.

This show provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Many, with the prime examples being Tiffani from "The Much-Herald Helmet of Sir Gawain"note , Andrea from "The Lion-Headed Bracelet of Chandragupta"note , Tarrah from "The Milk Bucket of Freydis" note  Missy from "The Lucky Pillow of Anne Taylor"note , and Yakeera from "The Ivory Hunting Horn of Roland"note .
    • Interestingly enough, 13 out of the 18 solo runs were attempted by girls with nine of them (including the examples above) winning.
  • Adapted Out: While there are some rooms that perform similar functions to previous ones in the 2021 reboot, the Temple Run doesn't directly carry over any rooms from the original. Except, of course, for the Shrine of the Silver Monkey.
  • Adaptational Location Change: Instead of being inside a soundstage at Universal Studios, the 2021 version is outdoors in a massive clearing by a lake.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The Pendants in the original were made to look like stone and had a tan/rust color scheme. In the 2021 CW version, they are green in order to look like oxidized bronze.
  • Adaptation Expansion: So much in the 2021 CW version, to accommodate the contestants being adults instead of kids.
    • For starters, the show is now a full hour rather than a half-hour. It's also played entirely outdoors rather than in a studio soundstage.
    • In the original, the Legend was only elaborated on right before the Steps of Knowledge. In this version, the Legend is relayed all throughout the episode before each segment.
    • The Moat in the original was just a simple "Get across the pool in a different way" challenge, but this one turns it into a full-on obstacle course. In the pilot alone, the Moat had five different steps the players had to complete before moving on. The game is also played on an actual lake rather than a big pool.
    • While there are only two Temple Games rather than three, they have been heavily expanded now. Much like the Moat, these are full-on obstacle courses and include several steps the players need to complete in order to win, unlike the original where every Temple Game was essentially a Fetch Quest.
    • Olmec's Temple in this one is massive, about the size of a theme park attraction. Each room is significantly larger than the original (obviously, due to accommodating full-grown adults rather than kids) and features more elaborate gimmicks than before. Due to this, teams now have four minutes to complete the run instead of three.
    • Averted in two areas, however. Instead of six teams, there are only four. The Steps of Knowledge is also basically the same as the original, except for one less team and no lights on the bottom step.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The King's Storeroom in the original is now The Royal Rage Room in the 2021 reboot. The objective is the same (smash pots to find a key inside), but in the reboot, there are three keys that must be placed in before you can proceed.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Blue Barracudas, Purple Parrots, and Silver Snakes.
    • For the temple rooms, there's the Shrine of the Silver Monkey and the Pit of the Pendulum; the CW version adds the Crystal Cenote and the Royal Rage Room.
  • Ambushing Enemy: Temple Guards sometimes hid like this. Usually, if not always, you never knew there was a Temple Guard in a room until it was too late.
  • Anachronism Stew: The show had an overall Mayincatec aesthetic, but the temple itself contained a lot of rooms that reflected various European cultures, like the Jester's Court and Medusa's Lair. Not to mention the various relics covered all kinds of settings and time periods.
  • Animal Motifs: Both the teams (based off animals who figure heavily in Mayincatec mythology) and the shrine itself (Shrine of the Silver Monkey).
  • Anti-Frustration Feature:
    • Probably in response to its off-the-charts difficulty, the Jester's Court was one out of two rooms to never house a Temple Guard (this was balanced in season 3 when they eliminated the path to the room above). The only other room to not have them is the pit that all contenders must pass through no matter what. Even better, the room with the treasure will not have a temple guard simply because getting the item eliminates them from the equation.
    • Anytime a temple game would end in a draw, both teams would earn that part of the Pendant of life.
    • If a team makes it to the temple with only one pendant due to winning the first two temple games, losing the third, and winning the tiebreaker, or losing the first two, winning the third, and winning the tiebreaker, running into the third temple guard will still end the run, but more doors will open in the temple, which makes reaching the artifact and dodging the third temple guard that much easier.
    • Getting lucky and picking the right tree with the key in the Dark Forest, or picking the right armor in the Room of the Ancient Warriors lets you avoid a Temple Guard housed in that room (in the Dark Forest, you have a 50/50 chance, in the Ancient Warriors room, your chance is 1 in 3) in certain Temple layouts.
    • Coming into the Dark Forest from the Jester's Court/Swamp gives teams a few more options and paths than most rooms. Teams could risk getting the key from one of the two trees and then go straight up to the Shrine of the Silver Monkey (faster path, but the Forest is more likely than not to house a Temple Guard in one of the trees) or break through the wall to the Mine Shaft/Quicksand Bog room where you can go up to the room above or use the ladder to go straight to the Shrine of the Silver Monkey (longer path, time sinking objectives, but more choices and those rooms aren't as likely to house Temple Guards). Also, by picking the right tree or going through the longer path, a contender can avoid a Temple Guard housed in the Dark Forest and save a pendant.
    • The 2021 reboot only has two Temple Games, and each is worth a full pendant of life. If there's a tie, the tiebreaker question-and-answer section awards a full pendant, which guarantees a winning team two full pendants/three hit points against the Temple Guards making it impossible for them to end the run in a Triple Seizure. Executive producer Scott Stone explained that this was done to avoid Downer Endings and too many teams missed the half-pendants of life that were hidden in the temple during the Temple Run in the original series.
    • The 2021 Temple Run is now four minutes instead of three to compensate for how big the temple is and how elaborate the puzzles are.
  • Artistic License – History: Don't expect your kids to get good grades if they base their knowledge on Olmec's stories. Averted in the 2021 version, where the legends used in each episode come from actual mythologies throughout the planet.
  • Art Shift: The 2021 version has comic book-esque panels that visualize the Legend for the audience while Olmec is narrating.
  • Ascended Meme: Of course the Shrine of the Silver Monkey made it into the reboot. And Olmec even refers to it as "that damned monkey" as he's describing it.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname:
    • Kirk Fogg—and yes, it's his real name.
    • If you watch the end credits, there are two names next to each other named Donald Ham and Henry Mayo.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Some girls are this, like Purple Parrots Tarrah from "The Milk Bucket of Fredyis" who soloed the entire temple, punched pots in the storeroom and got up after swinging across the pit and slamming her face into the side which caused her to fall and break the bucket while making it out of the temple with one second left. Kirk said it best, "She wants to be a cop."
    • Another girl, Blue Barracudas Missy from "The Heart-Pillow of Anne Taylor" also soloed the entire temple but only had one medal compared to Tarrah's two. Bonus points in that she had been nervous the entire show and was shown having to calm herself down prior to entering the Temple itself.
  • Bald Woman: Abby of the Green Monkeys in the reboot's second episode "The Fiery Lava Rock of Pele" is bald due to losing all of her hair when she was 16.
  • Belated Backstory: We finally get one for Olmec and the Temple in the TV movie. Olmec was once king of his civilization, and was in the middle of passing on his title to his son, Zuma. Just then, a group of rogue temple guards who Olmec had previously banished burst in, led by Olmec's other son Thak in a coup attempt. In the struggle, the Pendant of Life was split in half and each son grabbed one piece. To prevent Thak from gaining both halves and save his people, Olmec turned the entirety of the kingdom into stone, and himself into his giant stone head form. It's now up to the kids to find the Pendant halves and restore the kingdom.
  • Big Good: Olmec. He guides the players through the temple, tells of the legends, and gives them advice on how to retrieve the treasures inside.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Due to the Audience Shift to adults for the CW version, expect blood to be visible on camera during the legends. Also in the Crypt of the Heartless, the contestant has to lunge through various corpses to find a beating heart organ to go on.
  • Bowdlerize: The writers had to change a few legends to make them appropriate for kids. For the Grandy Nanny story, Olmec said she and her rebels threw cannonballs against her would be captors instead of what she's better known for. This is averted when it comes to the stories told in the reboot.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The Treacherous Swamp (and possibly the Quicksand Bog).
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Pendants of Life, which could be used to fend off Temple Guards in the final round. Half-pendants didn't do anything, but, fortunately, the other halves could also be found in that round. Too bad they were often hidden really well.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "The choices are yours, and yours alone!"
    • Not exactly a "catch phrase", but you'd be hard-pressed to find an episode where Kirk doesn't caw "Ohhh!" at least three times.
    • Olmec always let out a long groan when he released the temple gate. It was attached to his side, which made it look like it was hurting him.
    • "The SHR-III-INE of the SEEELVURR MUN-KEE!!!"
    • "Let's rock."
    • Kirk would often describe contestants as "blazing".
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Originally, the Dark Forest Temple Guards hid inside the trees. Later, they were evil spirits that possessed the trees.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The six teams.
    • Red Jaguars
    • Blue Barracudas
    • Green Monkeys
    • Orange Iguanas
    • Purple Parrots
    • Silver Snakes
  • Confession Cam: The 2021 reboot has Reality TV-type interviews with the contestants interspersed between the gameplay.
  • Couch Gag:
    • Olmec would deliver some sort of humorous Catchphrase, often rock-related, just before the Moat round begins.
    • For the CW version after Cristela is introduced, she would talk to Olmec about some random subject, usually something no-nonsense, before the teams are introduced. Olmec also finishes the episode with a random one-liner before the credits roll.
  • Crossover: With Double Dare, Nick Arcade and What Would You Do? called the Nickelodeon All-Star Challenge, which aired during The Big Help in 1994 and years later with The Loud House in 2017.
  • Darker and Edgier: The 2021 version compared to the original. Since all the contestants are adults, the Legends themselves are more willing to outright say how gruesome the Legends are, complete with blood shown during the comic scenes. The Temple Run also has several rooms involving skeletons, including needing to dig your hand inside a bunch of lynched skeletons in order to find the one "with the still beating heart." The Temple Guards are also played up as much scarier. Not only do they have darker facepaint on, but whenever they attack, the camera will zoom in on a quick close-up of the Guard as they screech into the lens.
  • Determinator:
    • The Solo Runs were essentially built on the first player entering the temple and traversing through it all on their own. Notably there were 18 Solo Runs with 13 victories.
    • The "One Second Left" Temple Runs (Galileo's Cannonball, Lawrence of Arabia's Headdress, Applewood Amulet of Emiliano Zapata and Milk Bucket of Freydis) where the teams work to the very last second to win. Milk Bucket of Freydis gets bonus points as it is the only One Second Solo Run ever accomplished.
  • Downer Ending: The "triple seizure", the fandom term for when every Temple Guard is encountered during the temple run with the last Temple Guard eliminating the contestant, resulting in a complete loss outside of the final round consolation prize. The 2021 reboot guarantees a team two full pendants to give to the Temple Guards, but a downer ending can still occur if they don't reach the artifact in time.
  • Dynamic Entry: In Season 2, Kirk slid down a climbing line to enter the set. Season 3, has Kirk swing on a rope into the set.
  • Ear Ache: Used in the Legend of The Golden Earring of Henry Morgan, Carmen Gia twisted Morgan's golden earring until he was on his knees.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Season one had a much brighter, cleaner, kind of orange tint than the next two seasons, as well as the set not being covered in wildlife and billowing fog.
    • The temple structure was quite different; the Cave of Sighs, later the Ledges, could be entered and exited, and the temple gate consisted of two large columns rather than an actual gate, as well as the actual staircase leading into the temple behind Olmec's head being significantly closer to ground level. A number of rooms in the temple didn't require a task to be completed to move on; the player merely had to hit a button (or, as the show called it, an "actuator") above or next to the door.
    • Kirk also wore khaki shorts rather than jeans, and his delivery and commentary were a lot more rough around the edges; this might have been why the next two seasons had Olmec himself deliver the instructions for how to perform each Temple Game and how to cross the moat, which were Kirk's duties in season one.
    • Olmec didn't speak much in the first season, only during the opening spiel, the Steps of Knowledge round, and giving the temple routes. In seasons 2 and 3, he became much more vocal and gave out the instructions for most of the rounds save for the Steps of Knowledge. Olmec was also much less of a Large Ham in the first season.
    • Lastly, the contestants' helmets were goldenrod rather than metallic gold and instead of wearing jeans during the Temple Games/Temple Run they wore khaki shorts/goldenrod sweatpants, respectively.
  • Enforced Plug: The grand prize in the CW version is sponsored by Chime, a financial technology company, which is mentioned every time either Olmec or Cristela mention it.
  • Epic Fail: How many kids tried to put the head on first of the Silver Monkey?
  • Every Episode Ending: At the end of every episode in the reboot, Olmec finishes off with some sort of random one-liner.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: This trope is inverted to "Everything's Worse With Silver Monkeys". How many dreams were crushed by that three-piece puzzle?
  • Excited Kids' Show Host: Using Mike O'Malley as a reference, Kirk Fogg is the zany but kind-sounding (if occasionally condescending) variety.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Occasionally happens when a contestant passes up a half pendant in season 2 or 3 (given those were more visible than the hidden ones on season 1). This has lead to at least one terminated temple run via the third Temple Guard, who will not accept a half pendant; they need a full pendant, or the contestant's out of there.
    • Also happens when the contestants don't immediately spot the artifact (With the Golden Pepperoni of Catherine de Medici being the most infamous example)
    • Occasionally, Temple Guards in the Cave of Sighs and the Swamp are visible before an encounter. This trope is mostly played straight in the Swamp.
    • There's a door from the Shrine of the Silver Monkey that leads down to the Tomb of the Ancient Kings/Dark Forest but even when it opens, 9 times over 10 the contestants will overlook it and go the long way around.
  • Fake Difficulty: A rare non-video game example.
    • The Jester's Court would be too hard to complete if you were too short, which several of the kids were.
    • The Temple Guards made the game practically unwinnable for any team that didn't have two full pendants from the earlier rounds. Depending on their placement, they could make the game unwinnable even if the team does have two full pendants. "The Discarded Seal of Ivan the Terrible" is only the most egregious example of this.
    • Years later, Kirk Fogg revealed that the show actually only had the budget to give away a small fraction of the prizes offered, so this kind of thing was pushed as far as humanly possible up to the point where they could still not be accused of deliberately cheating.
    • He also revealed that the Silver Monkey idol itself was rather shoddily made, and often time even if the kid had everything right it wouldn't do the click into place that would signal a win. Oftentimes, combined with the poor lighting, this would make the kids get into their own heads and panic away the rest of their time.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: One of the Legends featured on the show was Mata Hari. She was depicted as a Double Agent who was caught by the French in World War I.
  • Flawless Victory: Obtaining the treasure without meeting a Temple Guard is considered this. This was done just twice: by the Orange Iguanas in "Much-Heralded Helmet of Sir Gawain" and the Silver Snakes in "The Enormous Iron Nose Ring of Babe the Ox" (only just in the latter case, as contestant Joel dodged the Temple Guard in the Dark Forest by bursting straight through the wall to the Mine Shaft).
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • In "The Lion Headed Bracelet of Chandragupta", this happened with the King's Storeroom. The girl found the right keyhole, there was a sound of something opening, but nothing did. She had to push down the stone slab that was supposed to drop with her foot in order to continue.
    • In "The War Fan of the Forty-seven Ronin", one of the Temple doors wound up closing (and relocking) behind one of the contestants as they passed through it. They get ejected from the temple, their partner goes in... and cue looks of confusion and/or frustration as the door their partner just passed through is now sealed off. They eventually got the door to reopen, but by then it was too late. One of the contestants later stated in an interview they were given both of the extra prizes as a consolation, instead of just one for not reaching the artifact.
    • In "The Imperial Purple Robe of Empress Theodora", the object was located in the Mine Shaft and the locked doors forced the team to have to enter the room by elevator from the Viper's Nest. However, the contestant got on with just over 10 seconds left and the elevator kept stalling on the way down. Despite the contestant attempting to reach down to grab the robe as it slowly traveled, it was just out of reach and time ran out.
    • The design of the Temple created some problems for a few kids, since it would appear they designed, built, and tested the Temple with adults. The Jester's Court and Shrine of the Silver Monkey were especially bad. Some kids just couldn't reach the pieces of the monkey, or the buttons on the painting.
    • A inversion to this occurred once, with "The Mask of Shaka-Zulu". When the player hit the switch for the door leading into the room with the mask, the door opened when it was obvious from a production standpoint (i.e. the camera wasn't ready for it and Kirk Fogg was clearly shocked) that it wasn't supposed to happen. It's credited for being the fastest successful temple run.
  • Gameplay Roulette: The game was played in a whopping six rounds (impressive for a half-hour show), of which only the second and sixth (The Steps of Knowledge and the Temple Run) were fairly consistent from show to show. The other four (the three Temple Games and the method of crossing the moat) were usually different.
  • Get Out!:
    • If a temple guard appears and the player does not have a pendant, the guard will take them out of the temple.
    • In the Crypt, whenever a wrong book was pulled, the skeletons would shout "Let go!" or "Get out of here!".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode/legend name involved both the MacGuffin and the historical/mythical figure associated with it. This often took a Character Name and the Noun Phrase or The Noun Phrase of Character Name in Season 1, but always the latter later in the show.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Jason of the Orange Iguanas from "The Levitating Dog Leash of Nostradamus" uses the leash itself to help lasso the swing so he could swing to the other side of the pit.
  • Jump Scare: The Temple Guards definitely qualify, since they can pop out of anywhere, at any time.
  • Keet: With all that excitable and nonstop commentary, one has to wonder if the contestants wanted Kirk Fogg to shut up.
  • Large Ham:
    • Olmec is fond of dramatically saying all of his lines. And loving it the whole time.
    • Kiiiirrrk Foooooogg!
  • Level-Map Display: Seasons 2 and 3 showed one on-screen for the Temple Run to track the contestants' movements and the location of the artifact. This returned in the 2021 version.
  • Living Statue: Olmec. Of course, he was all head, and a huge puppet created for the show.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • With all the dead ends, fake switches, rooms guarded by Temple Guards, and limited Pendants of Life (although a stock of two Pendants effectively demoted the guards to Goddamned Bats), the Temple Run easily became this on quite a few occasions.
    • For a few shows in Season 2, there was a Temple Game where the two competing contestants had to guess which of five holes water would squirt from, with no information whatsoever on which to base this decision. This was, however, justified on-screen in at least one instance, as the artifact of that episode allegedly belonged to Nostradamus, making a game that tested "psychic ability" thematically appropriate.
    • In certain layouts, it is possible to avoid a Temple Guard housed in either the Dark Forest (1 in 2 chance) and the Room of the Ancient Warriors (1 in 3 chance), but there's no indication on which tree or suit or armor has the Temple Guard waiting.
  • MacGuffin: The temple artifact is the objective of the entire show. Olmec offers the teams a chance to retrieve a special item from his temple and every round is basically traveling to the temple and then attempting a run.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Dee Bradley Baker narrated every character in the show's opening legend with a different voice per character. He seemed to do women's voices better than he did men's voices.
  • Mayincatec: The whole design is based off of Mayan, Incan, and Aztec culture. And there's Olmec.
  • The Maze: The temple itself, with all the traps and puzzles and everything else that goes along with it.
  • Mook Bouncer: Temple Guards...which, it turns out, were played by stagehands (with the occasional show writer or assistant producer thrown in; everybody wanted to be a Temple Guard.) They essentially had random people snatching children on television.
  • Morton's Fork: Usually what the initial choice of path proved to be - either head up to the Crypt, which was faster to get through but housed a Temple Guard more often than not, or travel down through the Ledges, which were a massive time sink. In season 3, most players chose to go through the Crypt over the Ledges, presumably to avoid having to climb up to the upper part of the Pit of the Pendulum.
  • Nervous Wreck: Missy of "The Heart-Shaped Pillow of Anne Taylor" was one throughout the entire episode, even noted by Kirk himself, and had to physically calm herself down just before she entered the Temple. Thankfully she braved the entire Temple by herself and ended up crying Tears of Joy when she made it back with the pillow.
  • Nightmare Face: Each Temple Guard jump scare in the 2021 reboot is accompanied by a shot of the Temple Guard, decked out in Mayan-type face paint, screaming into the camera in a close-up.
  • Nintendo Hard: Just over one-quarter of Temple Runs were actually completed (pity the poor kids who didn't go to Space Camp or wherever else was on offer).
    • Even though each team was less likely to win a Temple Run with fewer than two Pendants, most of them would actually win with one and a half Pendants... and the highest win ratio was with one Pendant.note 
    • What made it so hard was that there was usually only one linear path, thanks to locked doors. The artifact almost always ended up in the last room you'd enter. You actually had better luck if it was on the far end of the Temple (essentially the halfway point, since after that all the doors unlocked)... and if a Guard got you, your teammate had to start over from the beginning. If it was in the middle of the Temple, like the Heart Room or Observatory, you were dead in the water unless one of the players was a fast runner.
    • Most winning teams picked up the artifact in the seventh or eighth room. This usually included at least one or two which involved quick objectives or simple navigation, but often a lot more in the earlier part of the show. In fact, the first two wins were almost-identical paths (the second time literally just added on the next room) of eight and nine rooms respectively, but other than navigation all the players had to do was sit on a throne and put the monkey together.
      • Kirk Fogg said in an interview that this was deliberate. The sponsors of the grand prizes only gave them so much to work with, so they apparently had a cap on the number of grand prizes they could give out in a season, so the temple was designed accordingly. (According to Great Big Story, the maximum amount of grand prizes was eight in a season)
    • The 2021 Temple Run is four minutes (as opposed to three in the original, but just like in the original the path to the artifact seems largely dependant on luck depending on which route you take. The room objectives have gotten more elaborate and take longer to complete. And that's leaving out the Temple Guards. It's impossible for them to end the run, but they can still mess up a team depending on their placement. In the second episode, the frontrunner was railroaded into several time-wasting rooms and was taken out by the second Temple Guard one room away from the artifact, leaving only 30 seconds for the second player to retrace the path (which he didn't).
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If one of the two players in the Temple Run left the Temple in an area other than the entrance, the run automatically ended in a loss. While this never happened, one contestant was so afraid of a Temple Guard that he jumped out of the Temple. It didn't matter since he only had half a pendant anyway.
  • Obstacle Exposition: The basic challenges, obviously, but the most memorable part is Olmec's description of the epic journey the contestants must face retrieving the MacGuffin of the Week.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • In the first season, teams could access the Temple directly through the Cave of Sighs as opposed to taking the stairs to the top right room. Many contestants chose the former option so when the Cave of Sighs became the Ledges for Season 2, its entrance was blocked off.
    • When Medusa's Lair was first introduced, players had to put four snakes into her head to open the door(s). This was later reduced to only two snakes being needed.
    • In the first season, a team answering a tiebreaker question incorrectly automatically sent their opponents to the temple (fellow Stone Stanley game show Shop 'Til You Drop also used this exact same tiebreaker format). This was changed in the later seasons by requiring the team that didn't ring in to answer the question correctly in order to win.
  • Open Sesame: To open the door to the Pharoah's Secret Passage in the Room of the Secret Password, the contestant has to shout one of three inscriptions:
    • "Open Sesame!"
    • "Long live Olmec!"
    • "Klaatu barada nikto!"
  • Opening Narration:
    Olmec: Legends of the Hidden Temple! With your guide, Kirk Fogg! And here he is now!
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Various players in the Temple Run were on the short side. One prominent player was Missy from "The Lucky Pillow of Annie Taylor" — so short that she was struggling getting the pieces for the Silver Monkey — who proceeded to solo the entire temple with just one pendant.
  • Precision F-Strike: Olmec often tends to lapse into this this during the legends and temple explanation during the reboot.
  • Public Domain Artifact: Dozens of these made their way to the Temple throughout the show's run, although Legends tended to use more obscure PDAs than most, with how they based a whole episode around each one.
  • Railroading: Olmec may claim that the contestants have a choice of which path to take through the Temple, but to prevent the runs from being too easy, some of the doors are locked, limiting them to one linear path.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Every time Olmec speaks, his eyes pulse red.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Due to the reboot being geared toward adults and older people, the contestants may swear and cuss at times, albeit censored. Olmec might often give a Precision F-Strike as well during the legends and explanations.
  • Rule of Three: So many places in this series. Just to name a few...
    • Three Seasons
    • Three questions on the Steps to make it to the Temple Games
    • Three Temple Games
    • Three minutes on the clock
    • Three Temple Guards
    • Three options in the upper entrance (tongues in the Room of Gargoyles, gongs in the Room of Royal Gongs, and skeletons in the Crypt)
    • Three Jesters' Court paintings
    • Three secret passwords
    • Three pots AND three keyholes in The King's Storeroom
    • Three pieces of the Silver Monkey
    • The list could go on forever.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In Henry VIII's Great Seal, one of the temple runners was so scared of a guard that he jumped right out of the temple. This would have ended the run due to a rule violation but it didn't matter since he only had a half pendant and was the second one in.
  • Shout-Out: Two of the passwords used in the Room of Secret Password include "Klaatu Barada Nikto" and "Open Sesame". The third is "Long Live Olmec," which isn't a real reference to anything.
  • Shown Their Work: For the 2016 TV movie, clearly. The writers and producers spent hours watching the old episodes while making it, as there's all sorts of references to stuff from the show.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: In the reboot whenever someone cusses, they are suddenly muted with their team emblem covering their mouth.
  • Spiders Are Scary: One of the Temple Run rooms in the 2021 version is navigating an enclosed branching tunnel made to look like it was made out of spider webs, with fake giant spiders everywhere. Luckily, they don't move, but woe be onto any players with arachnophobia.
  • Stock Audio Clip: The sound clip of the teams shouting "Yeah!" before the Moat round is used every episode.
  • Stock Footage: Kirk's Big Entrance in Seasons 2 and 3 was pre-recorded, and the same sequence is used every episode.
  • Stealth Pun: A lot of the artifact placements. For example, the Thornwood Gavel of Judge Roy Bean was placed in the Jester's Court, and the Dried Apple of William Tell was placed in the Room of the Ancient Warriors. Because of the various room changes throughout the show's run, some placements were more subtle still — the heart-shaped Lucky Pillow of Annie Taylor was placed in Medusa's Lair, which was a replacement for the Heart Room.
  • Sting: A rather frightening one sounds off whenever a temple guard appears.
  • The Stoic: Olmec is a perpetually frowning stone head who shows a complete lack of emotion aside from being a Large Ham and having a minimal sense of humor.
  • Temple of Doom: The Temple itself is what makes the show and it is home to scary Temple Guards and locked down with booby traps.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: After winning the tiebreaker in the Heart-Shaped Pillow of Annie Taylor episode, Blue Barracudas John and Missy hug. Then this happens. It sure doesn't look like an accident.
  • Theme Park Version: Most of the legends were actually balancing on the thin line between bowdlerization and sloppy research, usually subtly modified so that the character in the legend lost something that has somehow wound up in the Temple...when in reality the item doesn't exist, was never lost in the first place, or was incredibly generic (it's very likely that Harriet Tubman used a walking stick at some point in her life, and anybody who lived before 1910 is going to have used horseshoes). The TV movie used this trope as a gag, where the temple and the surrounding area was turned into a theme park.
  • Timed Mission: Most of the challenges were like this, but the most famous was definitely the three-minute Temple Run. Four minutes in the 2021 version.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In "The Heart-Shaped Lucky Pillow of Annie Taylor," Missy of the Blue Barracudas went from a small Nervous Wreck to going through the temple solo and winning with only one Pendant.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: It's really that hard.
    • In certain situations where there are more unavoidable temple guards than pendants available, a team might not be able to win at all—especially when they did something as devious as stick a Guard in the very first room of the temple.
    • The times players lost due to glitches, such as the aforementioned door being relocked.
  • Unwinnable by Design: As they had a finite number of grand prizes to give away, they deliberately made some paths to the artifact so long that they had no chance to get the item out in the 3 minute time limit.
  • Vocal Evolution: Olmec's voice became slightly deeper in the third season.
  • When Trees Attack: One of the anthropomorphic trees in the Dark Forest could "contain the spirit of a Temple Guard," which would seize any player who searched it for a key needed to open the next room. Which tree it was could only be guessed. Fortunately, the tree counted as one of the three guard limit, so a team with less than two pendants could still trigger the other two guards and have a chance at completing the run if the temple was run in a certain directionnote .

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