Follow TV Tropes


Series / Match Game

Go To
Gene Rayburn and a panel from the first syndicated season.note 

"Get ready to match the stars!"

Match Game began in The '60s on NBC as a simple parlor game: Host Gene Rayburn read questions such as "Name one of Columbus' three ships." Two teams, each consisting of two contestants and a celebrity captain, earned points by matching answers. This first series lasted from 1962 to 1969.

The format everyone remembers debuted on CBS in 1973, again with Rayburn as host. This time, two contestants tried to match answers with six panelists, including regulars Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Richard Dawson. By 1976 or so, the questions — and the stars' answers — featured Double Entendre and Unusual Euphemisms. Beginning in July, Dawson began hosting a quasi-Spin-Off of the show, Family Feud, for ABC; subsequently, he became more and more bored with Match Game until finally leaving in 1978. Concurrently with the CBS series, Rayburn was the host of Match Game PM in syndication until 1981; by that time, the daytime series itself had moved to syndication as well (starting in 1979) and would run until 1982.

Thus far, there have been four revivals of the CBS format: The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour on NBC with Rayburn and Jon Bauman, a 1990-91 run on ABC with Ross Shafer and poor affiliate clearance, a syndicated 1998-99 run with Michael Burger and only five panelists, and a second ABC version in primetime with Alec Baldwin that ran from 2016-21. The latter revival is also notable for being the first iteration of the show to tape in New York City since the 1962-69 edition.

Featured on the penultimate episode of Game$how Marathon in 2006, hosted by Ricki Lake. The focus was on the 1973-82 editions, with an impressively detailed replica of the 1973-78 set.

The British version was called Blankety Blank, hosted by Terry Wogan (1979-83) and Les Dawson (1984-90) during its original run on BBC1. It was resurrected in 1997, hosted by Lily Savage (aka Paul O'Grady) first on BBC1 (1997-99) and then ITV1 (2001-02). It also became Blankety Blanks in Australia when Graham Kennedy hosted a version of it on Network Ten from 1977-1978; prior to that, a straight-up remake of The Match Game had aired in the 1960s. A French-language version for the Canadian market, Atomes Crochus, began production in 2010 on V; an English-language equivalent (titled Match Game, the first foreign remake to use the original title since Australia's The Match Game in the 1960s) began airing on The Comedy Network in 2012 (whose format was modelled upon the Ross Shafer version, Match-Up and all, and with the Video on Trial regulars as the regulars). An Affectionate Parody, The Snatch Game, was introduced in Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race which sees the drag queen contestants impersonate a celebrity of their choosing and is now a popular Once a Season tradition.

Not related to Dream Match Game or Match-Three Game, or the Match Sequence in pinball that awards a free game when the numbers at the end line up, which is also known as a "match game."

"Get ready to match the tropes":

  • Accent On The Wrong Syllable: A Match Game '73 episode had a contestant answering "bosom" to a question but pronouncing it as "booze-um" rather than "buh-zum" or even "ba-zoom".
  • The Ace: Richard Dawson was very good at matching the contestants' answers, or at least choosing the definitive answer among the panelists. He was pretty much the go-to guy for the Head-to-Head Match, and was often chosen for the Audience Match as well. This is because he would take contestants aside prior to the show and tell them that most everyone else would try to give answers that were funny while he was actively working to help them win by trying to give an answer to match theirs.
  • The Announcer: Johnny Olson announced from 1962-82. Gene Wood (who had been a panelist for a week in 1974 and also announced The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour) held these duties on the ABC version. Paul Boland announced the 1998-99 version. Steve French announces the current ABC version. For a brief week in the fall of 1975, CBS announcer Bern Bennett filled in for Johnny Olson on the CBS show.
  • Anticipatory Breath Spray: Part of Gene's standard welcome when there was a first-time female panelist (or occasionally, for laughs, a first-time male panelist).
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: The "Confucius Say" questions where Gene would read the question in an Asian accent and substitute the blank with "brank".
  • Audience Participation:
    • Whenever a question opens with "X was so Y...", the audience is encouraged to shout out.
      Gene: Dumb Dora was so dumb...
      Audience: HOW DUMB WAS SHE?!
    • Sometimes this is pulled off pretty well. But more often than not, the audience lacks coordination or tries to shoehorn their part into the wrong phrasing. Gene always had a snarky comment for anything less than perfection.
      Gene: (reading) My husband is the worst...
      Audience: HOW WORSE IS HE?!
    • The audience would also write answers for the Super Match portions.
  • Blatant Lies: A question once said that McDonald's was charging double for burgers because "____ fell into the meat grinder". Brett, referring to Ronald McDonald, wrote "The clown whose name I can't remember". Charles complains that he has been accused for weeks of copying off Brett. He says his answer will prove he doesn't copy, only to reveal "The clown whose name I can't remember".
  • Blinking Lights of Victory: In the 1970s, the lit prize amount on the Star Wheel would blink, and the lights around the studio would form a chasing pattern.
  • Bonus Round: Super Match.
    • Audience Match (a carryover from NBC): An audience is polled for the best answer to a fill-in. The answers are marked for popularity, with the top three taken and ranked 1-2-3; most popular is worth the most money ($500 originally), the second is worth a little less ($250), and the third is worth the least ($100 originally). For PM, two consecutive Audience Matches were played and the contestant won the money earned from both of them.
    • Head-to-Head Match: The contestant and the celebrity are given one more fill-in. The player must be exact with the match to win a larger cash prize.
      • The contestant originally chose a star to play against in the Head-to-Head Match for 10 times the Audience Match winnings (up to $5,000), with most of them picking Richard Dawson because he was so good at it. In 1978, the Star Wheel was introduced to randomly determine which star would play and whether the stakes would be doubled, allowing for a potential maximum jackpot of $10,000 (daytime) or $20,000 (PM). (In 1975, in an attempt to vary things up, a new rule forbade a contestant from playing two consecutive Head-to-Head Matches with the same celebrity. This rule was discarded after six weeks.) Guess whose name it stopped on when it was used for the very first time? This caused one of the many (joking) walk-outs on the part of the celebrities.
      • The Star Wheel was retained for the 1990-91 version (albeit in a different style: it used a static wheel with the contestant spinning a green arrow), but removed for the 1998 version; all subsequent versions except for both recent Canadian versions have kept it out.
  • Bonus Space: The star spaces on the Star Wheel (two circles on the 1990-91 version), which doubled the stake. Originally five stars in a row, they were changed to three spaced-out stars when the daily syndicated version began in 1979.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Most of the regulars and Gene would occasionally do this-notably Gene, when reading Old Man Periwinkle questions, would often do an old man voice. (Similarly, when he portrayed Dracula.) Averted, however, in the Head-to-Head match where Gene would read the question using a flat delivery in order to avoid suggesting a particular answer; Rayburn would also do a straight delivery of front-game questions at least once, usually after all celebrities have played the question.
  • Butt-Monkey: Brett Somers in the '73 to '79 version, particularly in her Vitriolic Best Buds sniping at Charles Nelson Reilly. Others, such as Jack Klugman, Richard Dawson, Fannie Flagg, or any other sixth-panel celebrity, would also get into it if the question itself was a jab at Brett Somers, often beginning their reveal with "My good friend Brett" before saying something outlandish. And then there's her whole ongoing feud with the judges buzzing incorrect answers, causing Brett to complain, only for the judges to give her another, often harsher buzz.
  • Camp Gay: Charles Nelson Reilly, the Mark Goodson-Bill Todman answer to Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley's Paul Lynde. Reilly wore a caftan on national television.
  • Call-Back: The Canadian reboot seems to film several episodes back-to-back with the same people on the panel, letting the panelists do this on occasion.
  • Cap: With exception to the Ross Shafer version, each Match Game format has a highest possible score:
    • '70s, PM, and 2016: Six points, one per celebrity.
    • The Bert Convy pilots topped out at 24 points per player (six points in each of the first two rounds, twelve points for the third).
    • The Michael Burger 1998 version high a highest possible score of 15 (five points in Round 1, ten for Round 2).
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Get ready to match the stars!"
    • Rayburn typically said "Slide it, Earl!" ("Orrie" later in the run) when asking to reveal the $500 answer in the Super Match.
    • Sometimes when the questions got a little too un-PC, Charles and/or Brett would say "We're gonna get letters..."
    • For Brett, it was "Good Gravy Marie!”(or occasionally, “Criminy Dutch!”)
    • Whenever neither contestant made any matches during the first round, Gene would point to the 0-0 and say "My, we have a real pitcher's duel going on here!"
    • Sometimes Richard would give his answer as "El-_______-O."
    • In the Canadian reboot, Sean Cullen has "What I was going to say was... (ridiculous answer)."
    • In the original, a lot of celebs would say "I was going to say (contestant's answer) but I said (another answer) instead because (reasons)." Sometimes subverted by "I was going to say (contestant's answer) and I did!"
    • Gene, introducing a question: "<Subject> was so <adjective>..." is expected to be met with the audience, contestants, and panelists interjecting "HOW <ADJECTIVE> WAS HE/SHE?" before Gene finishes the question. If the audience's timing was off, Gene would sometimes give the audience another shot, and at other times he would say something indicative of the audience's half-hearted effort, dismiss the audience's half-hearted response and continue to read the question.
    • When a new celebrity was introduced on the panel, Gene would say "We have a new kid on the block", followed by (if it was a woman) spraying his mouth with breath freshener to prepare for a kiss.
    • "Now, wait a minute...", said by Gene when the audience booed any answer that he thought was reasonable.
    • "But first, we gotta do a little business with America", whenever Gene throws to commercial.note 
    • "No help audience. We appreciate your help, but your answers may be rotten", Gene during the Head-to-Head Match.
    • "Get your own show." Usually said by Gene to a contestant hollering in the audience.
    • Gene, when introducing a new contestant: “Please welcome *name*, applause applause applause.”
    • On the 1990 version, Vicki Lawrence was fond of saying “There’s a veritable plethora of answers!”
  • Censored for Comedy: From which the majority of the humor is derived.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Patti Deutsch is probably the best example among the panelists. Her answers generally had some sort of warped internal logic to them, but they were still far removed from anything either the contestants or the other regular panelists might offer. In some cases her answers may have been more entertaining for their bizarreness, but it did undermine the goal of giving an answer which the six panelists would match if one panelist had a penchant for extremely unlikely answers.
      • To her credit, she usually gave the oddball answers only in the first round, usually constructed with questions which had more than one obvious fill to the blank..
      • Even better, sometimes Patti would be the only one to match a particularly crazy response from the contestant.
      • Sometimes her answer was crazy only in an Expospeak Gag manner, such as when she matched the contestant's response "nose" by writing down "nasal extremity." Hey, a match is a match is a match.
    • McLean Stevenson was this whenever he was on, as his antics were much more outlandish than most of the other regular panelists and he seemed to have trouble keeping still. This includes once doing the show half naked and in a later episode pretending to make out with Gene Rayburn.
    • Soap star Jacklyn Zeman filled this role on the 1990 version.
    • Emma Hunter fills this role on the 2012 Canadian reboot.
    • And then there's Joyce Bulifant. (Junk...yard...)
    • Caroline Rhea, among others, is this in the 2016 revival.
    • Generally speaking, the person in the sixth spot is the most likely to have a weird answer. In addition to Deutsch and Bulifant, the iconic 1973-82 run also featured Fannie Flagg. Notable aversions to this rule included Marcia Wallace and Betty White.
  • Confetti Drop: Unlike most game shows, it doesn't apply to "big winner" scenarios, but instead to the New Year's Eve episodes when the number at the end of the sign signifying the current year was changed. A boatload of balloons, confetti and streamers would fall on the stage and on the audience (for the first year this was done, there weren't any balloons used; for the change from '74 to '75, a giant balloon was also used).
  • Couch Gag: When the stars were introduced one by one in the opening sequence, they frequently held up cards on which they'd written or drawn something silly, or made a goofy face or gesture for the camera.
  • Could Say It, But...: Occasionally during the 1973-82 era, a contestant would say something like "I'd like to say hello to my children, Alice and Bob" only to be told by Gene, "Oh, no, we don't allow that here." Of course, if it really was forbidden, that line would have been edited out.
  • Creative Closing Credits: In the 1973-82 era (with the exception of the first few episodes), on a full credit roll (usually on Fridays), the credits roll sideways from right to left, instead of vertically.
  • Crossover:
    • The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour.
    • A few times Gene Rayburn would host Bert Convy's Tattletales and Bert, while not actually hosting officially, would read a Match Game question or two so Gene could play.
    • The main cast from The Carol Burnett Show (including MG regular Vicki Lawrence) made a special appearance and played a round where Gene threatened to replace Brett with Vicki permanently.
    • Match Game and The Price Is Right shared the same announcer (Johnny Olson) and much of the same production staff; also, Bob Barker was a semi-regular, leading to several in-jokes. One of the best was a Super Match with "Come On _____" and the contestant did not call on Barker first.
      Bob Barker: Gene, where did you find this girl?
      • And the same studio (Studio 33, now the Bob Barker Studio)! The fact that both shows used turntables extensively is not a coincidence. Same turntables.
      • Models Janice Pennington, Anitra Ford, and Holly Hallstrom all appeared on the panel as well. Holly a few times, including after the show left CBS.
      • Bob was also known to make jokes referring to the "other" show, including offering refrigerators to the entire audience.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Johnny Olson once sat on the panel for one episode due to Gary Burghoff (who himself was filling in for Charles Nelson Reilly) forgetting to set his clock forward for Daylight Saving Time. Another time, Mark Goodson himself subbed as a panelist- Charles was late for the taping (according to Gene, he was "getting his hair nailed on").
  • Delayed Reaction: On the "School Riot" episode, Debralee Scott's answer of "Finishing School" was initially accepted but given the buzzer half a second later. Neither the celebrities nor Gene noticed this until Richard Dawson's answer, also "Finishing School", got rejected.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: This happened on a 1978 episode in which Gene portrays Old Man Periwinkle:
    Gene: Old Man Periwinkle said... (goes into Mr. Periwinkle mode) "Hear about the wild party at the home? Old Lady Perkins got so drunk, she gave away her (blank)." (pauses, then continues on as Periwinkle) Wait a minute. I don't see so good 'cause I'm 102 years old. Stop the music. I put the blank in the wrong place. "Old Lady Perkins got so drunk, she gave her (blank) away." (pauses as he looks upward) Eh, it's the same thing.
  • Dirty Old Man: Gene would often act this way toward the female panelists—either as himself or Old Man Periwinkle.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Charles Nelson Reilly.
  • Dodgy Toupee: You could almost never tell, but Charles had one. He removed it at least twice on the show.
  • Double the Dollars:
    • The 1990 version's Match-Up rounds awarded $50 per match in the first round and $100 for the second.
    • During the Star Wheel era, whenever the wheel pointed/stopped in a designated area the potential jackpot would double (ergo, on PM, a jackpot of $10,000 would instead be worth $20,000).
  • Downer Ending: The Super Match on August 21, 2019 was “Hit the ____”. The contestant says, “Hit the road, Jack” but panelist Ellie Kemper said “Hit the road”. Due to the “exact match” rule, the contestant is not given credit and misses out on $25,000.
    • A similar incident happened in the 1979 syndicated version. The young lady who won the game eventually got to play the Head-to-Head match with Robert Pine, whom the Star Wheel landed on. The question was "Really (blank)", to which the contestant said, "Really big show". Pine simply had 'Big' as his answer, and she lost out due to the exact words rule.
    • Averted, however, on the Carolyn Haisner episode (see the Awesome folder). The question was “Snug as a ___________.” Carolyn said “Snug as a bug in a rug,” while Brett Somers wrote “Snug as a bug.” It was accepted, and Carolyn won.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The 1962-69 run can be seen as this for the franchise as a whole, as every latter-day edition of the series has been based off the 1973-1982 format, which, save for a few scant elements, was almost entirely different.
    • Early '73 episodes can seem quite weird, since the questions were far more straight and generic (no "Dumb Dora" or "boobs"-type questions), and the overall mood less silly since the panel had not yet had time to gel. Also, neither Charles nor Brett were on the panel for the first several weeks (and neither were in their usual spots when they debuted, and occasionally afterwards as well). By early 1974, the show had begun to hit its stride.
    • The first season of PM (1975-76) used two rounds per game just like the daytime version. All episodes afterward used three rounds per game, because two rounds led to lots and lots and lots of filler.
    • The ticket plugs were basic with the ticket information superimposed on a background of rotating lights. They were changed to the more familiar mixed-faces beginning in the summer of 1975.
    • The orange box rotated more slowly during the first few shows' openings.
    • For Week 2 of '73, all the celebrities rotated chairs on each episode.
    • Brett Somers would switch between the upper middle and lower left until finally settling in the former permanently in Week 14.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: In one game, Pat Morita writes an answer in Japanese and Gene demands the judges deem it a match or not. They respond by simultaneously dinging and buzzing it.
  • Freudian Slip: One frequently-seen outtake has Gene remarking about an attractive female contestant, "Doesn't she have pretty nipples... er, pretty dimples?"
  • Fun T-Shirt: Fannie, usually with an animal on it (or emphasizing her boobs).
  • Game Show Host:
    • Gene Rayburn hosted from 1962-82.
    • Bert Convy filmed pilots for what became the 1990-91 revival, but was ultimately replaced by motivational speaker Ross Shafer due to Convy being diagnosed with a brain tumor (Convy died after this version ended in 1991).
    • Michael Burger hosted the 1998-99 version.
    • Alec Baldwin hosted the 2016-21 version.
    • The 2012 revival on The Comedy Network is hosted by comedian Darrin Rose, who doubles as announcer (one less salary to pay - the show also only has two regulars instead of three).
  • Game Show Winnings Cap:
    • During the CBS run during from '73 to '79, contestants were retired after winning at least $25,000. As a result, the most a contestant could accumulate was either $30,550 (before the Star Wheel was implemented) or $35,550.note 
    • The syndicated Rayburn versions' highest possible payout was $11,000 (on pre-Star Wheel PM only) or $21,000.
    • Averted in ABC's 1990 run. Total winnings were based on the champion's front-game score plus whatever was won during the Super Match, with possible earnings of over $50,000.
    • The 1998 syndicated run capped out at $5,000.
    • ABC's 2016 revival has a $25,000 top prize, and no returning champions.
  • Gender-Blender Name:
    • One of the two female contestants on the first aired episode of Match Game '73 was named Stanley.
    • Three episodes later, Stanley faced off against another female contestant named Gary.
    • Of course, Brett Somers.
  • Genius Ditz: Despite their sniping, snarking and general craziness, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and frequent sixth-panelist Betty White were often able to match contestants and give ranking answers on the Audience Match portion.
  • Golden Snitch: In syndication (the 1979-82 show specifically), the $100 prize for winning the game was done away with, meaning a contestant could win both games, strike out completely in the Super Match both times and go home with nothing but the consolation prizes they give to the loser.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: From Match Game '74...the Super Match was "_____ Angels". Kaye Stevens was chosen first, and she said 'Hell's Angels'. The contestant went with that one, but before the answers were revealed, Richard Dawson said that they should say HECK'S Angels instead of Hell's, and all through the revealing of the answers, Gene said 'Heck's Angels'.
  • Halloween Episode: The 1990 revival had host Ross Shafer (Dracula), the celebrities (including Charles Nelson Reilly as Superman[!] and Vicki Lawrence as a sexy Little Red Riding Hood note ) and the contestants in costume.
    Charles: [having been the only person not picked for a Match-Up] No one ever picks Superman anymore!
  • Hotter and Sexier: Questions on the 1998-99 version tended to be more overtly sexual than on prior versions, with the added bonus of Bill Clinton jokes. A good number of episodes had at least one answer that was beeped out, with the panelist's card censored (although that happened at least once on the 1990-91 version and at least four times in the 1973-82 run).
    • As one example of how bad that version got: A contestant trailed in Round 2 by nine points after his opponent had finished her question, meaning that he needed to match all five panelists (at two points per match) to win the game. The question was read, the stars wrote down their answers, and the contestant gave an answer - one that was promptly censored so viewers could neither hear nor lip-read what was said...and one that all five stars also wrote. The contestant had achieved an amazing come-from-behind victory with an answer that nobody watching at home would ever see.
    • The 2016 version is arguably just as overtly sexual, if not even more so, than the 1998-99 version; however, thanks to more relaxed standards audiences are (mostly) a lot more accepting this time around.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Downplayed. One episode had Carol Burnett and some of her show's cast members randomly wandering onto the set, and decided to play a round and sat on the floor.
  • Large Ham: Many celebrity panelists, to be sure, but Gene's hamminess would occasionally eclipse them all.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": The real reason for some of Fannie Flagg's odd misspellings (for example, spelling the word receipt as "recpiet"). In fact, it was those misspellings that caught the attention of a teacher who informed Flagg about the condition, which she had never heard of before.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Whether a contestant won or lost the Head-to-Head Match depended on whether s/he got a question with only one (or, at most, two) viable answers or one with many.
    • Of course, the front game also falls into this for the same reason.
    • The Match-Up rounds from 1990 qualify as well, albeit downplayed due to each one having a guaranteed 50-50 chance of scoring.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: The main concept behind this show is a simple fill-in-the-blank game.
  • Manly Gay: "Chuck", Charles' "tough guy" alter ego. Whenever Gene happened to call Charles "Chuck", he would slip into stereotypically "macho" mannerisms and voice with a "Yo, Gene!"
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: At the beginning of an episode where only one contestant was seated, Charles occupied the empty spot and claimed to be "Art Fennenbach", a 24-year-old student (to which Brett comments "You wish!") ...who has been married three times with four sons and two daughters.
  • Must Make Amends: After what happened on the "School Riot" episode, the contestant who played that question was invited back to play another game.
  • Mythology Gag: An April 1976 show had Bill Cullen and Janice Pennington on the panel. Gene points to Bill and says, "This is the face you see on The Price Is Right?" Bill responds, "Not if you've watched lately!"
  • New Year Has Come: The CBS version updated the sign every New Year's episode (Match Game '73Match Game '74), accompanied with party favors for the panel, balloons and streamers, and the singing of "Auld Lang Syne".
    • The 1990 version only had one, and the only thing done to mark the occasion was a neon sign saying "Happy New Year".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhnteepahhhhhhhhhhhhstooooo", said by Gene Rayburn and Richard Dawson to get themselves to imitate Boris Karloff for the "Mad Doctor/Dr. Frankenstein said..." questions.
    • Dawson had many other impersonations up his sleeve, ranging from W. C. Fields to Paul Lynde.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Sometimes done by the panelists, who pretend that they screwed up with their guess, when they actually had the matching answer all along.
    • Richard Dawson in the '73 to '79 run was really bad about this to the point of being a Running Gag; if the contestant was right in the Head-to-Head match, he more often than not started off by saying he put the wrong answer, then would come up with some weird logic as to how that connected to his actual, matching answer.
    • Sometimes, Charles Nelson Reilly would say “I hope this is a match” before revealing the correct answer.
  • Off the Rails: The show was really designed around this (like this segment), but the School Riot is a rare actual example.
  • One-Steve Limit: Frequently averted:
    • In addition to Richard Dawson, there were several occasional panelists named Richard, making two Richards on the panel. In one case, they had to spell out "Richard Paul" on the star wheel, which usually had only first names.
    • There was a contestant named Betty White.
    • Two contestants named Sandy. Gene decides to call the defending champion "Sandra".
    • Guest panelist Patty Duke made a joking side comment in one episode about frequently getting the similarly named Patti Deutsch's fan mail.
  • Opening Narration:
    • "Get ready to match the stars!" [lists off all six stars, whose faces appear framed in a rotating orange box] "As we play the star-studded, big money Match Game!(7X/PM)!”
    • The 1990 version was largely identical, except the celebs' faces were cut into thirds that "slid" on-screen one at a time (like a horizontally-oriented slot machine), creating mix-and-match faces in the transition; also, "star-studded, big money" became "all-new, star-studded".
    • 1962-1969: "From New York City, it's time to play... [logo appears] ...The Match Game. This portion of The Match Game brought to you today by... [lists sponsor and plugs their product] And now here's your host, Gene Rayburn!"
      • When the Telephone Match was implemented, the show opened with a shot of an audience member seated in a witness stand. Johnny Olson would intone: Here in our studio audience waiting for a call from today's home viewer is (name of contestant, home city) on The Match Game (shot of phone on Gene Rayburn's podium).
    • 1983-84: It's time for the Match Game... Hollywood Squares...Hour! With (name of six celebrities as they enter the stage). And the Stars of The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, Gene Rayburn...and Jon Bauman!
    • 1998-1999: [undercranked footage of audience getting in their seats with stock "running" sound effect] "Wanna have the most fun you've ever had watching a game show?" [stock crowd reply of "YEAH!"] "All you need is a set…" [set pieces fall into place] "…Wonderful stars, like [lists off five stars]… two contestants, like [names of contestants]… and the guy that makes it all happen, our host, Michael Burger! All here on Match Game! [slow-motion zoom onto sign]" Somewhere along the way, this was changed to a "door opening" graphic over the first sentence, and the next part changing to "Well, come on in! We've got five wonderful stars like…"
    • 2016: Largely identical to the 1973-82 opening (even with an orange rotating box, albeit a CGI one), but "star-studded, big money" became just "star-studded".
  • Only Sane Man: The host tends to act as this, though Rayburn and Baldwin have both more leaned towards "leader of the loonies" than towards "long-suffering wacko guard" (as Shafer and especially Burger were).
  • Pop Culture Osmosis: Match Game is the Trope Codifier for personality-driven Double Entendre game shows.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: John Phillip Sousa's "Stars & Stripes Forever" would occasionally be played.
  • Rearrange the Song: The 1990 revival used a mellower re-orchestration of the 1970s theme.
  • Recycled In Space: One question from the 2016 Alec Baldwin version asks about the fictional sitcom-based Broadway show "Will & Grace in Space" and its big musical number "We Found _____ On Uranus".
  • Recycled Soundtrack:
    • The Bert Convy pilot re-used the Cover Up Think Music from The Price Is Right during the Head-to-Head Match. About 17 years later, Price returned the favor and used Match Game think music during Cover Up as a gag on an April Fools' Day episode (as well as playing the show's theme over the credits instead of its own).
    • The 70s versions sometimes borrowed unused Think Music cues from TattleTales.
  • Retraux: The 1990 run's set design was seemingly influenced by '50s malt shops and jukeboxes (given the red neon, chrome paneling and rounded edges), while every version after 1998 has (naturally) been modeled after the 70s run; the Game$how Marathon and 2008 pilot sets were direct copies (though the GSM one was shrunken down a bit), while the Comedy Network and current ABC version both use modernized takes on the basic design and layout (with the Canadian version using an orange and white look, and the ABC version using purple with wood and orange accents).
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Nipsey Russell regularly provided some hilarious poems.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Whenever a panelist complained that they didn't know how to spell their answer, Gene was quick to assure them that spelling did not matter and they would know what the panelist was talking about. This did not stop them from being made fun of for spelling errors.
    • On one episode, the top answer to the Super Match "There's a ____" was "Fly in my suop." Brett Somers was quick to point this out.
    • Another time, it was "Power Huose."
    • Another had "House of Horrers."
    • And yet another had "Wodden Raft."
    • Vintage game show-based TV network Buzzr had an entire week devoted to this called the "Match Game Misspelling Bee"; find the misspelled word in the show from a particular time spot, post it on their Facebook, be entered to win a prize.
  • Running Gag:
    • Brett and Charles riffing each other's hair.
    • Fannie and Brett's catfights.
    • Many questions had recurring characters, such as Old Man Periwinkle, Dumb Dora (how dumb was she?), Weird Willie, Ugly Edna (later Ugly Alfreida), et al.
    • Fannie misspelling her answers.
    • Whenever a male panelist on the upper row (usually Charles) gave a tasteless answer, Brett would snatch the answer card and tear it to pieces, sometimes even out of spite when the panelist's partially decent answer matched the contestant's.
    • The ticket plugs (which were mainly featured on the 1979-1982 daily syndicated version in which every episode had one after the second commercial break) featured a headshot of a funny face by either superimposing a celebrity's/contestant's face or mouth on another celebrity's/contestant's head or by just combining the two faces together. These type of ticket plugs made their debut in the summer of 1975. Examples included:
      • Bart Braverman's face superimposed on Eva Gabor's head.
      • David Doyle and Debralee Scott's faces were halved.
      • Robert Walden's face superimposed on Elaine Joyce's head (it was featured in the infamous "Cuckoo, Friend, and Ollie" episode).
      • Robert Pine's face superimposed on Jamie Lee Curtis' head.
      • Kirstie Alley's challenger's face superimposed on her head.
      • Various female celebrities "donning" mustaches (by way of superimposing a male contestant's mustache on her face).
      • Dick Martin "wearing" red lipstick (by way of superimposing a female contestant's mouth on his face).
      • One ticket plug even featured numerous faces of Gene Rayburn superimposed all over his body!
      • This ticket plug style later served as the inspiration for the 1990 version's opening featuring the celebrities' faces split into thirds and sliding in different formations.
    • Betty White (sitting in the sixth position) would often roll up Gene's pantlegs (supposedly without his knowledge) as he talked to the upper-level celebs. One time after she did the deed, Gene mentioned that one time she did it previously someone in the audience got a picture of him in said condition, which eventually got printed in both the New York Daily News and TV Guide.
    • Any strange or otherwise off-the-walls answer being a "rotten answer."
    • Charles and Brett's regular mock headbutting with each other. And related to that, Charles giving Brett the "Pathetic Answer Award".
    • One week, Richard Dawson had one with his answer card gag in the opening. He kept using stars' names in humorous questions. "Why did Gene Ray Burn?" "Why is Betty White?" "Why did Ira Skutch?" (Skutch was one of the producers and a judge) among others.
    • The Canadian reboot got one when a contestant gave the incredibly dumb answer "Hard" to the question "Scotch _____". Since that episode, the host started incorporating "scotch hard" into his Signing-Off Catchphrase.
    • If someone (usually Gene) was particularly over the top with their performance, someone on the panel (usually Charles) would say that it's a shame Patty Duke isn't there to see that fine acting (because of her award-winning performance in The Miracle Worker).
    • Most recurring panelists were targets. Examples include Betty White's love of animals and Fannie Flagg's ample bosoms.
    • In the 2016 revival, when a panelist gives a bizarre answer or otherwise does something unusual, Alec will pick up their drink and sniff it.
    • Brett remarking how she's "not too crazy" about the last X number of questions that week.
    • How Gene and Brett were supposedly having a (not-so-)secret affair in a motel in Encinonote , California.
  • Ruritania: Nerdocrumbisia, the fake country used in questions where the intended response related to being run-down and/or sleazy.
  • Self-Deprecation: Charles and Brett would sometimes diss the Think Music played while the celebrities wrote down their answers.
    • Richard called one of the newer think music pieces "The Battle Hymn of South Korea".
  • Serious Business: Since the constestants were now playing for real money, the Final Match had a completely different approach from the main game. This round would use short phrases that did not lend themselves to humor, Gene would read the clue with zero trace of emotion, and unanticipated joke answers by a panelist were extremely discouraged. Richard Dawson was quoted as saying that any panelist (in the uncommon instances where the panelist wasn't Richard himself) who cost a contestant a cash prize by providing a joke answer would never be invited back.
  • Short-Runners:
    • Despite a potential Channel Hop from ABC to CBS, it never came to pass, rendering the 1990 Shafer version a one-season wonder.
    • The 1998 Burger version, however, wasn't even considered for a second season.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sister show Tattletales got a lot of them, be it Bert Convy showing up as a surprise as the next contestant is revealed, Convy and Rayburn talking about the show, or Johnny Olson's end tag "Stay tuned for Tattletales, next over most of these CBS stations!"
    • On the introduction of the Star Wheel, Dawson joked that if the player landed on the star markings on the wedges, "Chuck Woolery comes out and punches you in the mouth."
    • From a 1975 episode: "Johnny Olson's wife said, 'Last night it was really hard to get to sleep. All night long, Johnny kept shouting, '____!'" The contestant said "Come on down", which two of the panelists matched. Johnny even demonstrated the line (and had Gary Burghoff lip-sync it).
    • The 2016 version has occasionally referenced the famous Saturday Night Live "Schweddy Balls" sketch, given that it is hosted by Pete Schweddy himself.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Fannie Flagg, who occasionally came across as a bit of a ditz (albeit no more so than the other regular panelists), would later enjoy some success as a novelist, having written the critically acclaimed best-seller Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Panelists frequently smoked (and drank!) on the air.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: The ABC version uses slide whistles whenever someone utters an obscenity. This also happened on extremely rare occasions where an answer had to be censored in the 70s versions.
    • The 1990 version used a “cuckoo” sound effect(additionally, the celebrity’s mouth would be blurred so that you couldn’t lip-read their answer).
  • Southern Belle: Fannie Flagg.
  • Speed Round: Match-Up!, played at the end of each round during the Shafer version. The first playing was $50 per question in 30 seconds; the second was $100 per question for 45 seconds. The Canadian version utilizes this as well, but only at the end of the second round; the first season had each match worth $50, but was doubled during the second season.
  • Spin-Off: Somewhat; the Super-Match was the inspiration for Family Feud. The questions used on Feud were patterned after the original Match Game questions ("Besides the White House, name something in Washington D.C.") In addition, Richard Dawson was selected to host the new show based largely on his Match Game popularity.
  • Split Screen: Used during the Match-Up segments; the contestant took up the upper-left of the screen, the chosen celebrity in a circle on the upper-right, and the Match-Up computer took up the bottom half.
  • Talk Like a Pirate:
    • For some reason, Paul Boland always growled "Nell Carrrrterrrrr" in a pirate-like voice.
    • Also this.
  • Take That!:
    Gene Rayburn: The bank teller said, "I think there's something wrong with this dollar bill. Instead of a picture of George Washington, it has a picture of George..."
    Contestant: Wallace.
    • The first panelist was Scoey Mitchell, who gave the contestant a Death Glare before revealing that his answer matched... well, sort of.
      Scoey: Had the old boy let me go to school, I'd have learned how to spell his name. (holds up card with "Walass" written on it)
    • Howard Cosell, Anita Bryant, Euell Gibbons, and disgraced ex-OMB director Bert Lance were frequent targets of ridicule on the 70s versions.
    • Saddam Hussein and Roseanne Barr were often mocked during the 1990 run.
    • Bill Clinton was (maybe too) frequently the butt of many in the 1998 series.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: A variant: When Jack Narz popped up (quite literally) to plug Now You See It, a brief excerpt of the theme to NYSI, Quincy Jones' "Chump Change" played.
  • Think Music: A variant; music plays while the stars write down their answers on the cards.
  • Those Two Guys: Brett and Charles.
  • Trash the Set: Whenever the doors were "glued shut", this happens.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: If Gene had to say "three", he nearly always rolled the R in it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly really loved sniping at each other over any of their other potential targets.

Stay tuned for Tattletales, next, over most of these CBS stations!