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Series / Let's Make a Deal

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"Whatever is behind this Curtain is yours. I'll buy it back from you for $400."
"I got a deal for you!"
Monty Hall

Monty Hall was the producer and host ("TV's Big Dealer") of this long-running trading Game Show, which is best known for the zany costumes worn by audience members. Many of them also carried hand-lettered signs.

The show originally ran on NBC daytime and primetime from 1963-68 before Channel Hopping to ABC, where it lasted until 1976. Syndicated runs aired from 1971-77, 1980-81 (taped in Canada), and 1984-86 (as The All-New Let's Make A Deal). The show went back to NBC from 1990-91 with Bob Hilton hosting, but after miserable ratings, Hall unsuccessfully came back. The show was revived briefly in 1996 on Fox as Big Deal with Mark DeCarlo hosting. Another revival in 2003, again on NBC with Billy Bush at the helm, lasted three episodes; this version is deprecated by most of the fandom. The current incarnation, begun in late 2009, replaced Guiding Light on CBS. This version is an hour long and hosted by Wayne Brady; while nobody can take the place of TV's Big Dealer, the Brady version has been pretty well-received. Hall even returned as a guest for a week and gave his blessing.

Everyone in the Studio Audience brought something to trade for a prize. In the most basic deals, Hall chose one or two people at random and showed them a prize, with assistance from model Carol Merrill and announcer Jay Stewart. The contestant(s) then had to decide whether to take the known prize or go for a different prize, which was hidden. The hidden prize could be something good, like a new car or a room full of furniture, or it could be a worthless Zonk. While most deals were a (sometimes elaborate) variant of this, others involved pricing various household goods, usually with a car on the line. Even then, Monty would pause before revealing whether the final choice was correct and offer the contestant either cash or a hidden prize to stop the game there.

At the end of the show, contestants who won the prizes with the highest cash value could trade away their winnings to play for the day's Big Deal, a prize package behind one of three numbered doors, generally worth around $9,000. The two other doors contained prize packages that, while containing less than the Big Deal, were generally worth more than what the contestants traded away. During the end credits, Hall went through the audience again, offering money for random items that the audience members might have brought.

It was played on the second episode (of seven) of Game$how Marathon, hosted by Ricki Lake, in 2006, with the focus naturally being on the 1964-76 Monty Hall versions. Prior to 2009, the show was the only one of the seven to not have been aired on Game$how Marathon's network, CBS, beforehand.

This show is the basis for a probability puzzle known as the "Monty Hall Problem", and the style of role-playing campaign derisively known as the "Monty Haul (sic) dungeon."

This show provides examples of:

  • All or Nothing: The point of several games, although the contestant was often allowed to back out at defined points and keep what had been accumulated, lest they risk it for the whole lot. The most famous application is "Beat the Dealer," where the winner of a progressive-elimination game can elect to play the host for a large prize package by drawing a higher-ranked card than the host.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Occasionally, Wayne Brady's daughter Malie is mentioned or makes an appearance on the show, and he playfully makes sure to embarrass her. When she substitutes for him on his hosting duties in the May 18, 2020 episode, he goes as far as pinching her cheek out of affection.
  • The Announcer: Wendell Niles announced the first pilot and the first season of the original run. His role was taken over by Jay Stewart, who announced from 1964-77. His successors were Chuck Chandler (1980-81), Brian Cummings (1984-85), Dean Goss (1985-86), Dean Miuccio (1990-91), John Cramer (Big Deal), Vance DeGeneres (2003), Rich Fields (2006), and Jonathan Mangum (2009-present).
    • Deal has probably asked more of its announcers than any other game in history. Not only did Niles and his successors (minus Fields and Cramer) have to read the copy, but also lug TV trays with relevant props down crowded staircases and sometimes act in skits related to the prizes. Unfortunately, it also resulted in Stewart getting chronic, intractable back pain later in life... which, when coupled with the death of his daughter Jamie in 1981, led to his suicide in 1989. Mangum, because of his improv experience, often winds up in improv games with Brady by way of giving clues to contestants.
  • Art Shift: Some of the Zonks in the Brady version have animation attached- ie. if it's a trip to "Zonkville", then it shows animated versions of Wayne, Jonathan, Tiffany and Cat riding a fanboat to Zonkville, where they meet with Mayor Zonky the Donkey.
  • Ascended Extra: In January or early February 1972, Mark Goodson just happened to be watching the show on a day that Dennis James was filling in. Guess who got tapped to host the nighttime Price, even though hardly anything of the New format had been cemented?
  • Audience Participation: The host chooses contestants from the front section of the audience known as the "Trading Floor". Apparently in Brady's case, anyone in the audience is eligible, and occasionally on his version deals are made with the entire audience participating.
  • Bee Afraid: The Honeycomb Purse and Wallet Zonk.
  • Big Red Button: Used to take the money in the "Cash or Clunkers" deal on the current version.
  • Bonus Round: The Big Deal, though it requires a prospective dealer giving up their previous deal to play. Two people were required to play until the current run, where it has been decreased to one person.
    • In the 1975-76 season and for two week periods in the Brady era, the Super Deal was added after the Big Deal. The risk was that whoever won the Big Deal could trade it in for one of three doors (Hall) or envelopes (Brady). One contained a large sum of cash ($20,000 originally, now $50,000) and also returned the Big Deal to that contestant.
    • The two others contained small cash prizes that changed over time: the 1970s version (in an era where the Big Deal generally hovered between $8,000-$10,000), it started out as $1,000 and $2,000 before changing to two $2,000 and finally $2,000 and an amount ranging between that and $10,000. The current version (in an era where the Big Deal generally hovers between $20,000-$40,000) uses the original consolations, clearly done to be cheap.
  • Carried by the Host: Why it's called "The Monty Hall Problem" instead of "The Let's Make a Deal Problem".
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • "Who wants to make a deal?"
    • "It's a(n) (unappealing item)!"
    • "You could have won a (good item)!"
  • Confetti Drop:
    • If the Super Deal is won on the Brady version, money falls from the ceiling.
    • A couple of Big Deal wins on the short-lived 1991 version were accompanied by balloons being dropped on the car.
  • Consolation Prize:
    • On the Wayne Brady version, Wayne may sometimes give a contestant who got a Zonk a small amount of money (usually $100) as consolation, although Wayne may make the contestant do something to earn it, such as dancing or singing.
    • This was also present in the Hall eras, but typically not on-air (after each show, those who got a Zonk were instead offered some cash or a nice prize; several actually kept their Zonks, which Hatos-Hall had to honor).
    • A Brady-era contestant who won a trip to "The Big Apple" Zonk received the leather travel bag it was taken out of as a legitimate prize, of around $350.
  • Crossover: Drew Carey appeared on the Brady version to make a deal with a contestant. Amusingly, Drew came out to the 1972 rendition of the Price theme, not the 2007 arrangement.
    • The 2015 April Fools' Day episode had one contestant play Plinko; they seemed to like that idea so much that, the following year, they scheduled a full crossover week between the two shows for May sweeps, in which a game from Price is played on Deal per-day with modified rules, and vice versa. These have included Cliff Hangers (instead of pricing small prizes, the player collects steps from choices of envelopes. Reaching certain milestones awarded prices, with finishing near the top — but not falling, winning a car), Hole in One (the player had chances at three distances to putt for prizes, but moving closer awarded fewer), and 5 Price Tags (after being shown the infamous blooper from last season where Manuela Arbeláez accidentally revealed the answer in said game; guess the price in one try to win $20,000).
  • A Day in the Limelight: On a 1986 episode, Dean Goss hosted two deals as part of an experiment. He later confirmed that this was because Monty wanted to retire but also keep the show going, so he was testing Goss' abilities as a host. Had it been renewed, Monty would've walked out first on the season premiere to pass the torch.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: in the Wayne Brady era, prize presenter Tiffany Coyne occasionally swaps place with Jonathan Mangum. In situations where she is called upon to sing, the results... are not pretty. That said, she’s got just as sharp a wit as the other two hosts when it comes to zingers.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: On the 2/15/13 episode, a wife was dressed as an electrical outlet, while her husband was a plug with prongs just below his waist.
  • Double Unlock: Whenever the Super Deal was offered; you had to win the Big Deal to qualify for the Super Deal, then risk your Big Deal if you wanted to go for the extra money.
    • The 2015-2016 and 2016-17 seasons began with "Mega-Deal Week." The trader who played the Big Deal chose one of the three doors and one of seven cards. If they picked the Big Deal and the winning card, they received every prize (other than cash or Zonks) that had been shown during the entire episode. (Any trader who chose the Big Deal won it regardless of the Mega-Deal outcome.)
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The May 25, 1963 pilot. No costumes, a Zonk in the Big Deal, and a really sexist sales pitch preceding the show.
    Monty Hall (sitting by himself in the middle of the contestant area as the camera zooms in from a wide shot): This is television's only trading floor, where every day the individuals who control the finances of America — the women, of course — come to make deals. And what's more exciting to a woman than trading or swapping or looking for a bargain? It's suspense every second as men and women bring in their old white elephants and try to deal me out of big cash or big gifts. Well, do you have a leaky umbrella you'd like to get rid of? You know, I may pay you $500 for it. Or if you're a clever trader and know when to stop, you could drive home in a brand-new automobile. On this trading floor we'll buy, sell, or trade everything and anything from Aardvarks to Zithers. There are millions of deals to be made, and we'll make them every day on Let's Make A Deal. Watch, we'll show you how it works!
    • The early seasons were far more sedate and none of the contestants wore flashy costumes — that didn't start until a contestant brought a sign to make Hall notice her, which then snowballed into contestants wearing costumes to get his attention. Also, Wendell Niles was the announcer in the first season instead of Jay Stewart.
  • Eat That: One Zonk was "Bug Candy" (chocolate-covered bugs). Tiffany forcibly brings the display over to Wayne and insists he try it. He didn't think it was that bad.
    • He's also tried Mayonnaise Mouthwash. He really didn't like it.
  • Exact Words: Frequently invoked by Zonks, which have featured a "compact Cadillac", fake trips to a "Big Apple" that is not New York City, key lime pie with actual keys in it, etc.
  • Foreign Remake: All over the place, including three separate adaptations in Australia. The German version, Geh aufs Ganze!, ran from 1992 to 2003 and came back in 2021; there have also been Spanish-language versions under the name Trato Hecho, including an American run for Univision in 2005 with Guillermo Huesca hosting. A French version, Le Bigdil, was hosted by Vincent Lagaf and notably featured a cartoon alien named Bill as his sidekick (the backstory of the show being that he crashed his UFO and decided to just start offering people prizes).
  • Game Show Host: Co-creator Monty Hall was the first and most famous, with Dennis James and Geoff Edwards subbing for him. Following in his steps were Bob Hilton, Mark DeCarlo, Billy Bush, and Wayne Brady. And Ricki Lake.
  • Grail in the Garbage: On (very) rare occasions, a real prize has been hidden inside a Zonk or low-value item, such as a fur coat in a trash can, or a woman having a chance to get her purse back after trading it away — not knowing that the key to a new car had been put into it.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Invoked on February 2, 2017 (for obvious reasons) — where the show "restarted" after every commercial break with the same deal and the same contestant. The first loop even replayed the entire intro, but every subsequent loop began to truncate the cycle. However, at the same time, said deal went farther each time.
  • Guest Host:
    • Dennis James and Geoff Edwards both filled in for Monty on separate occasions, the latter on both the original series and All-New.
    • Dean Goss guest-hosted a couple deals on All-New as a sort of trial run, because Monty wanted to pass the torch on to him should the show be renewed for a third season (it wasn't).
    • When Monty replaced Bob Hilton on the 1990s version, the mentions of "guest host" may sound like an excuse (he hosted right through to the finale), but they were actually true at the time — Hall planned to begin doing on-air auditions before eventually picking one to do the show full-time. NBC, however, had other ideas.
  • His and Hers: Some of the Zonks, especially bathtubs and junked cars. And according to Monty Hall, one of ABC's attempts to increase ratings late in that run was offering his-and-hers Cadillacs. Didn't work.
  • Home Game: Several, including an electronic version which Hall himself promoted. There was also a 900-number game in the late 1980s that was advertised by Monty in an infomercial that featured clips of classic deals made on the show.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The Billy Bush version had this; one deal had three men in scant clothing (loincloth, toga, etc.) and each was hiding something underneath it as part of the deal.
  • Iconic Item: In the Monty Hall era, $500 and $1,000 bills were often used in games involving large amounts of money.
  • In the Style of: Invoked by the Jukebox game, where the contestant picks a disc from a jukebox, and Wayne and Jonathan improvise a song about the prize hidden behind the curtain, in the style of whatever is written on it.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: The telephone clue deals are always preceded by Wayne apparently having to "leave" the stage for silly and sundry reasons.
  • Just in Time: The biggest complaint about the Brady version's Big Deal (aside from only one person playing it) was that the doors were always revealed in numerical order, leading to fake suspense and things like "We hope the Big Deal is not behind Door #1." which are missing the point. Thankfully, this was partially dropped — Brady always reveals the unpicked prize that wasn't the Big Deal first. Lately, the practice is to go ahead and reveal the prize the contestant picked second, whether it's the Big Deal or not.
    • That said, Monty Hall was a master of suspense, often convincing traders to back out of a potential lucrative deal in games where only one correct answer – or at times, multiple correct answers) – was/were possible by demonstrating one of the possible solutions, which may or may not be the right answer, and offering them a sure thing by adding a warning such as, "That may have been the key that fits the lock. There may be other keys that fit the lock to that safe and will win you that trip, car, etc. Whataya think? A $1,000 sure thing, or go for it all?" After which, he may continue to build suspense or the contestant makes a decision, after which Monty will play the Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened card.
  • Kaizo Trap: In the Wayne Brady version, some deals have more than one Zonk prize to catch contestants off-guard.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: Occasionally, the Big Deal may be the prize behind the door that was opened, plus everything else on stage. This has been denoted on the Wayne Brady version by an "Everything In The Big Deal" display on a TV screen. This idea was used on Monty Hall-hosted versions as well (including one of earliest shows of the 1984 version).
    • Also used in a deal during the Valentine's Day 2017 episode, involving contestants choosing between a curtain, or a jar of candy hearts offering $1 for each candy inside, passing the jar to the next person if they didn't take it. The last contestant also passed, and ended up winning Laundered Money. The jar was revealed to have been worth around $900, but then Jonathan dug around and found an "Everything in The Deal" card!
  • Leave the Camera Running:
    • Following the Big Deal, Monty would make quickie deals with the audience over the end credits, and sometimes even after.
    • This was also done on the current version, but changed when the quickie deals were almost entirely cut out of each episode (including the official credits on the upload) in favor of the Fremantle logo animation and generic-credits-while-CBS-pimps-other-shows. The pacing was altered to dedicate the last five minutes to quickie deals, and Wayne signs off as soon as the credits begin.
    • Some fans have complained when the show started tweeting what items to bring to trade for money instead of just having random items such as playing cards or paper clips. How this is done ends up being an Enforced Plug for the show's Twitter page.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: In certain games, after a contestant decides to take a sure-thing buyout, the host will continue the game, often asking the contestant a question along the lines of what they would have done next had they continued — the idea being whether the contestant made a good decision to quit.
  • Losing Horns: Type B when a Zonk is revealed, from 1976 onward (except in 1990, when a stock foghorn was usually heard instead).
  • Lovely Assistant: Carol Merrill on the first version, and other models on later versions.
  • Luck-Based Mission: About half of the show revolves around this. The other half involves being smart enough to recognize and avoid the Schmuck Bait.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Occasionally seen as a Zonk on the Brady version. Once, a running gag featured Man Eating Plant seeds, followed by a baby plant, a teenager plant and finally, a full grown adult plant.
  • Milestone Celebration: In the 2000th episode of the Wayne Brady version, most of the deals came with 2,000 dollars and the Zonks had 2000 of a worthless item like doll hair and rubber chickens.
  • Minigame Game: Countless variations of the basic trade template are employed, but there have been other minigames too. Some were knowledge based (such as picking which grocery item was worth a certain amount or pricing grocery and other items within announced limits, guessing a product by the year it was introduced, etc.), but the majority are luck based contests (such as "Monty's Cash Register," which asked contestants to press up to a certain number of unmarked cash register keys to earn cash for a grand prize.) The luck-based games became a bit more elaborate in the Brady version.
  • Monty Hall Problem: Trope Namer, sort of.
    • The most common example is a contestant shown a grand prize (such as a car) and three keys, only one of which unlocks the door and winning the prize. After the contestant makes his/her pick, the host will show one of the non-working keys before offering a either a sure-thing buyout (cash, cars or both), an opportunity to swap his/her current key for the other, or (rarely) both. Once the trader makes a final decision, the key in his/her possession is tried (with fanfare for a win and the correct key revealed upon a loss; in either event, the non-working key is demonstrated to confirm that it was a a dud key). With this execution, the contestant is led to believe that his or her odds of winning have improved to 1-in-2 (as one of the dud keys removed and only two possibilities remain), when the actually have not — they've remained 1-in-3 all along.
    • The fact of the matter is when the "3 doors" scenario presented itself Hall rarely, if ever, offered the chance to switch, usually offering to buy back the chosen door/curtain instead, as per the caption above.
    • Sometimes comes up in the 2009 revival. A game called "Three of a Kind" involves the contestants selecting a three of a kind for a selection of six, with two matching sets of three. When revealing the cards, two of the three selected cards are revealed, which always match. At this point, the host offers a sure-thing prize. If the contestant declines, the host then reveals one (or possibly) two of the non-selected, non-matching cards, offering an increased "sure thing" buyout before revealing the final cards and determining if the contestant had won. As with other Monty Hall Problem games, the offers are made regardless of whether the contestant found a matching set of three cards, and if properly executed the contestant is led to believe that improved (or worsened) odds resulted as the host reveals the non-matching cards.
  • Mystery Box: Used for hidden prizes either on stage or on a tray brought to the host and contestant by the announcer. Sometimes, the mystery prize was behind a curtain or billboard.
    • In Brady's version, it might be a card in an envelope, or even two smaller boxes inside a box on a tray.
    • Played with on the Big Deal in December 2017, with a new feature in which one of the doors also has an envelope attached to it containing a bonus prize.
  • Mythology Gag: Certain CBS promos have, in the past, referred to the current version as The All-New Let's Make a Deal.
    • A recurring game on the current version involves three games where a contestant must pick from cards to earn cash and avoid Zonks, progressing from "Three-card Tiffany" to "Four-card Jonathan" and "Five-card Wayne". All are versions of a game/con called Three-card Monte.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome:
    • A contestant in the 70's version was given a large box of candy at the beginning of the show and refused every offer to trade it to other contestants for unknowns. At the last possible moment (before the playing of the Big Deal) she relinquished it for a curtain (at which point the entire audience knew what was coming). Inside the candy? $5,000, one of the largest hidden cash payouts the show ever offered. (She got Zonked, obviously.)
      • Another contestant likewise turned down a $5,000 savings bond in the 1980's version, with similar results.
    • Another woman was given a box of candy and this time held onto it throughout the entire deal. This time it was worth only $800, but after she kept it and turned down a car behind one curtain, the amount was revealed to her. Behind each of the other two curtains was another car, meaning that she was the first contestant to turn down three cars in the same deal in the history of the show.
    • One contestant playing The Great Escape game managed to get the correct key to open the protective box containing the car key at the last possible moment, which would have gotten her a car. However, the producers ruled that because the contestant didn't get the key into the padlock fully when the timer ran out, the victory didn't count, which robbed the contestant of a new car. Brady stated how much the situation sucked and gave the contestant $100 for her efforts, but it won't ever fix what went wrong. This has since led to an Obvious Rule Patch where Wayne Brady now says, before the game begins, that the padlock must be unlocked before time runs out in order for the car to be won.
    • One woman had her choice of two curtains, each marked to indicate the price range of the prize behind it. She chose "At least $100" and turned down "$100 to $10,000," which turned out to be a $6,000 trip to Iceland. Next she traded in her curtain for a box marked "Less Than $5,000," and found that the curtain had 100 pounds of confetti worth $1,300. She then traded the box for a mystery envelope and discovered she'd given up $4,999 in cash. Finally she took $1,000 to give up the envelope—which held a $30,000 luxury car.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The Car Pong game on the Brady version was extremely difficult to win at because only one space was marked for the car and the rest of the board were dead spaces. The game was slightly altered later on by having the dead spaces changed into money spaces so if a contestant got a ball in those areas, they could at least win something.
  • Onion Tears: Played with in All-New with the "World's Largest Crying Towel" Zonk, which frequently featured the announcer or a model sitting at it cutting a bucket of onions.
  • Opening Narration:
    • 1963-1970: "Would YOU make a deal to trade up to $XXXX in cash for one of those three doors, knowing that behind one of them is $XXXX worth of valuable merchandise? Several people have to make that decision during the next half-hour, as we bring you the marketplace of America, Let's! Make! A Deal!".
    • 1970-1975: "These people, dressed as they are, come from all over the United States to make deals. Here in the marketplace of America, Let's! Make! A Deal!"
    • 1975-1976/1980-1981/1984-1986: "It's time for Let's! Make! A Deal!"
    • 1976: "From the playground of America, the entertainment capital of the world, from the showroom of the fabulous Las Vegas Hilton, the world's largest resort hotel, we bring you the marketplace of America, Let's! Make! A Deal!"
    • 1990-1991: "Behind these ever-changing doors waits a spectacular assortment of cash, merchandise, fun, and incredible surprises! Today, from the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida, it's time to play America's favorite game! It's big, it's bold, it's the one and only, Let's! Make! A Deal!"
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Done all over the place by the hosts in the Wayne Brady version. The more noteworthy ones include a Dr. Phil spoof by Wayne, Jonathan Bighead, and the "spirit" that Wayne summons (really Jonathan inside a crystal ball, standing on a stool hidden by a table).
  • Piggy Bank:
    • In the 1984-86 run, the Big Deal had "Monty's Piggy Bank" as well as "Monty's Cookie Jar" and a giant blank check. If any of these three was behind the doors, the prize was cash ranging from a few hundred (if shown first), $2,000-$4,000 (if shown second), and in a few rare instances was the Big Deal (if it was below $10,000).
    • The Spiritual Successor in Wayne's version is the "Let's Make a Deal Vault", which was the Big Deal at least twice. Here's one instance.
    • The Facebook version has a game called "Piggy Bank" where you have a ring of piggy banks you must smash to meet a cash target. Some also have Zonks, but you're allowed three life preservers to keep playing; a fourth Zonk ends the game and leaves you without cash. There is a "Double" in a piggy bank that can double the cash in the next bank, or could give you two Zonks for the finding of one. (If you're low or out of life preservers, or running out of time, you can "cash out" and take the money you're won up to that point.)
    • The Brady version features the above game on the show, entitled "Smash for Cash".
  • Porn Stache: Both Brian Cummings and Dean Goss sported these.
  • Product Displacement: They seem to make a big deal on the Brady version about covering up brand names, sports logos, and the like on contestants' costumes. Strangely enough, some of the "damaged goods" Zonks avert it, possibly due to the products or brands being discontinued — examples include a smashed Mitsubishi TV (the company quit manufacturing consumer TVs in 2012), a pile of defaced Eveready batteries (the company is now known as Energizer) and a wrecked Pontiac Trans Sport minivan (the Pontiac brand was discontinued in 2010 and that particular model [later known as the Montana] had been discontinued by 2006 in the U.S. and 2009 in Canada and Mexico), all with their branding intact.
  • Product Placement: During the Monty Hall era, prizes were sometimes hidden behind what were basically billboards (or literal giant boxes) for a sponsor's product.
  • Pun: Quite a few Zonks have been this, including:
    • Laundered money; giant dollar bills hanging on a clothes line.
    • A lemon Car; it's shaped like a lemon.
    • Key Lime Pie; it has actual keys in it.
    • Literal Slippers
    • Penny Loafers; they're covered in pennies.
    • Meat Loafers
    • Sundae Shoes
    • 2-Lips; flowers shaped like giant lips
    • A trip to "the big apple"; not New York City, but a giant apple.
  • Rearrange the Song: The theme of the 1980-81 version started out with a re-recording of the original theme tune before going into a whole new melody, as did the 1984-86 theme. The theme to every revival since (including the current one) seem to take after the '84 theme.
  • Retired Game Show Element: The 1984-86 version featured a "Door #4" element (using an appropriately labeled curtain in a standalone frame) that would pop up every few days at random and pick an audience member via a number system to make a deal with Monty (see the entry for more info). This neat little mini-game was axed from the show when the 1990 revival premiered. The 1990 version also had a large video screen above Door #2 which could act as an extra Door/Curtain as needed.
    • Subverted on the current version hosted by Wayne Brady; the wheel portion of Door #4 has been resurrected as the "Go for a Spin" game, and the "pick a random trader" portion exists as "Now Serving."
  • Rule of Three: Some deals would have three items offered (either behind a curtain or in a Mystery Box), one at a time. Often the last would be a Zonk.
    • Sometimes they might have "visible clues" in the form of signs (a Monty deal had three signs in front of three curtains, Wayne's variations had three mini-screens as the signs or Twitter tweets) with the "last clue" meaning you'd have to risk everything blind on it with no hint whatsoever (Monty's last sign said "Big Risk," Wayne's last sign had "?????" and the "last Tweet" was instead musician Cat Gray holding up a sign that said "I don't Tweet").
    • One deal on the 1984-86 version gave a woman various choices of three curtains or a pack of gum with money inside. She eventually took the money ($1,500) and passed up three new cars, one behind every curtain.
  • Running Gag: In the Brady version, one of the games that pops up occasionally is a lotto-like scratch off game where the contestant can win something if he or she matches a pair of symbols; two cars gets a car, two Wayne Bradys gets a few thousand dollars, two Tiffanys gets a slightly lesser cash prize, and matching two Jonathans gets the lowest cash prize in an odd amount, like $79.95, to which Jonathan always acts offended that he is considered a low tier prize, or offers his "personal guarantee" along with the money by his name. (The prizes sometimes switch places, though.)
    • On All-New, the same Zonk occasionally turned up multiple times during a single episode.
  • Schmuck Bait: Chock full of it, especially in the Wayne Brady version.
    • Various foreign currencies were good for this. Monty would show a large quantity of some currency to a trader, then offer to give them the equivalent in US dollars or let them trade it for a box/curtain. If the trader didn't know the exchange rates, they could get stung pretty badly (for example, several hundred thousand Italian lira might be worth $300 or so).
  • Shout-Out: When looking at a pixelated image during a deal, Brady asks if it's Doom or Quake.
    • Wayne periodically does a routine as "Dr. Wayne", in which he portrays a psychologist from Texas with a moustache who specializes in relationships and how it pertains to prizes (specifically, for a game where a couple is shown sets of two prizes each, and must match to win them).
    • One Zonk prize that's brought out occasionally is a comic book titled "Mangum P.I.".
  • That Came Out Wrong: After seeing a female contestant dressed as a baby and holding a baby bottle, Monty offered her $100 if she would "show another nipple". He meant the rubber kind.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: This happens a lot in the Brady version. Considering who he is, it's to be expected.
  • Timed Mission: A game called "The Great Escape" gave the contestant 15 seconds to find the key that unlocks a Plexiglas box containing the keys to a car; unlocking the box won the car. The contestant was also given $1,500 cash, and could buy extra time (at $100 a second) before the game began. There were 20 keys on the board, which was a few yards away from the box, and the contestant could try only one key at a time, but was allowed to make as many trips to the board as time allowed.
    • The show later converted the "Car Pong" game (which had been limited to a fixed number of attempts at, well, beer pong for a car) to a timed game.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: The final season of the original run (1976–77) was taped at the Las Vegas Hilton, and most of Brady's first season (2009–10) was taped at the Tropicana.
  • Whammy: In certain games, a Zonk symbol – or depending on the game, Jonathan Mangum's face – acts more like this.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: In one 2021 episode, Brady had the idea of having Cat randomly play a beat that the latest speaker has to sing to. He actually ends up regretting this.
  • Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": Parodied with the recurring game on the Brady version, "Who Wants to Answer Multiple-Choice Questions for Cash and Prizes?", which lampoons the overdramatic music, padding, and insistence on confirming contestants' answers.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: Singing existing songs is strongly discouraged in the Brady version, as that would force the producers to pay a lot of money for their use. As such, making up new ones on the spot in a similar style is the preferred alternative.
  • Younger and Hipper: The reason why Big Deal and the 2003 version failed.
  • Zonk:
    • But even then, a contestant winning a zonk doesn't mean they have necessarily lost. Other times, what appears to be a Zonk is actually a prize worth several thousand dollars, such as a half-scale antique pie wagon that was worth $3,300, said prize's value revealed only after the contestant was approached to go for the Big Deal and agreed. In some cases, a Zonk may conceal a legitimate prize, such as the time "garbage cans for every day of the week" had one of them containing a fur coat worth $5,000, a "Zonk Pirate Ship" that had the model open a treasure chest concealing a trip, or a junked washer and dryer, with dirty, holey blue jeans seeing the model rummage through the pockets to see if her "little boy" (usually the announcer) left something inside … and he always did, often thousands of dollars in cash (or a check for said amount), tickets for a trip or the keys to a new car.
    • On one Brady episode, a contestant from Zimbabwe brought in a Zonk of his own; 2 billion dollars! Too bad it was the result of hyperinflation, and no longer has any value—as he mentioned, the country now uses other currencies, such as the U.S. dollar.