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Series / Pointless

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The Points Mean Nothing taken to its logical endpoint.

A game show shown on BBC One (with reruns on Challenge TV), hosted by Alexander Armstrong (of The Armstrong and Miller Show), with Richard Osman as assistant. It has been broadcast since 24 August 2009, making it a Long Runner.

The object of the game is to score as few points as possible by giving correct but obscure answers to survey questions that were asked of the public. The most desirable answers are the "pointless" ones - correct, but not given by any of the survey participants. It works like a reverse version of Family Fortunesnote  right down to asking the questions to 100 people: "We gave 100 people 100 seconds to name..." Each pointless answer given during the main game adds to a cash jackpot, and the last team standing has a chance to win it by giving at least one pointless answer in the final round.


An Australian version, hosted by Mark Humphries and Dr. Andrew Rochford, began airing on Network Ten in July 2018.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • All or Nothing:
    • Only the team that reaches the final has a chance to win any money, and they'll either get the whole jackpot or none of it.
    • Softened somewhat by the fact that all teams have two chances to reach the final, but played straight if a team gets there on the first try.
  • Bonus Round:
    • 3 (later 5) categories, pick one, come up with three answers to the question in a minute. Any of them are Pointless, win the jackpot.
    • A new format was added in June 2013. Contestants choose one category from a list of four, and are given 60 seconds to come up with three answers that they think will be pointless in any of three sub-categories. If at least one answer does turn out to be pointless, they win the jackpot.
  • Advertisement:
  • Celebrity Edition: The amusingly named Pointless Celebrities.
  • Confetti Drop: Averted except in one Christmas episode of the French version, where all the contestants from the episode and host Cyril Féraud set off small Confetti and Streamer Cannons at the end of the episode.
  • Consolation Prize: Every team that reaches the final round wins a crystal trophy, whether or not they take home the jackpot. For celebrity episodes, all of the contestants get £250 for their chosen charities, regardless of whether they make it to the final round or not.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first series had five pairs of contestants, while every subsequent series has four; this was to allow each episode to have more time dedicated to Armstrong and Osman's banter. Each series one episode also started with a demonstration of the game mechanics.
    • The head to head round in the first series had the two remaining teams trying to keep their scores going above 100 by being asked multiple questions. In the event that both team's scores surpassed 100, the team with the lowest score would go through. The next series had the more traditional 'X out of X' scoring, but it was best three out of five instead of best two out of three.
  • Losing Horns: ...which roughly sounds like "BZHOOOoooom."
  • Personnel:
  • Retired Game Show Element: The S1 head-to-head structure (one category, pairs answer alternately until one or both go over 100 points) and the S3-5 "choose from a prepared list of answers" questions are dead and buried, as is the rarely-used style of question in which two linked categories were used in the same round, one on each pass.
    • In Series 23 the "choose from a prepared list of answers" variant was revived and repurposed as a new round before the Head-to-Head called the "Jackpot Jumper"; the two teams were given six options, two of which were pointless, two of which were correct but scored points, and two which were wrong.
  • Rules Spiel: Shortened after the first series, which included a demonstration of the answer bar decreasing to varying lengths after different answers, using examples from questions from the previous episode.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: A deciding head-to-head question was types of penguin, with alternating letters missed out of the names given. Both pairs only knew one, "Emperor," which the first pair gave. The second pair randomly guessed "Macaroni" as a joke as it seemed to fit one of the other answers. Not only do Macaroni Penguins exist, the answer was obscure enough to win the second pair the question and the game!
  • Animation Age Ghetto:invoked One suspects Richard's not a fan of it, considering how he often comments how much he enjoys animated films and they are often a good way to get a Pointless answer in film category questions.
  • Aside Glance: Richard, occasionally.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Contestants in the head-to-head who think their opponents have given a wrong answer will sometimes give a different answer to the same question. Unless you're absolutely certain you're right and you don't know any of the other answers, this is an unnecessary risk — best case, they were wrong and get 100 points, so any correct answer would have beaten them. Worst case, they were right and you've thrown away any chance of getting a better score. Once lampshaded on a celebrity edition by Jenny Seagrove.
  • Blatant Lies: According to Alexander, any time a contestant claims they are only on the show for the trophy. This was said in the context of a pair of finalists going for a record-equalling £20,250 jackpot, whose three answers (on the subject of Manic Street Preachers singles) scored 1, 1 and 2 respectively.
  • Born Unlucky: The show on 30th May 2012 had one pair who managed to talk themselves out of a winning answer every time they faced a question on the head-to-head, and they got through to it the day before as well, so four times in all. And then the pair that beat them the second time managed to talk themselves out of two pointless answers in the final.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Richard admonishing Alexander for "spoil[ing] the jeopardy" by giving away that Barbara Cartland was a correct answer before it was revealed.
    Richard: You know, "let's see if it's right, and if so, how many people said it", yeah?
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • The top three answers in the "Papal names" category, in ascending order: Paul, John, and John Paul.
    • Richard's introduction on the 9th January 2015 show was that he liked 'facts, spaghetti and facts about spaghetti'.
  • BRIAN BLESSED: This was actually offered up as an answer by a contestant, who grew up in the US, but was now living in the UK, for a question on Blue Peter presenters, and didn't have a clue.
    Alexander: Oh, if only!
  • Call-Back: Competitor Eric's answer "Sebastien Buemi" narrowly missed out on being Pointless when it turned out one person in the survey had given the same answer, prompting Alexander to quip that "I'm afraid Mrs Buemi was in our 100 people." Eric and Keith went on to enter the final, where they faced a question about Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and missed out on the jackpot — again by a single point. Quoth Keith: "Was that Mrs Chaucer?"
  • The Cameo: Johnny Robinson (from The X Factor) made one in the soap edition of Pointless Celebrities as part of a gag about The Other Darrin.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Richard plays this sort of role in a self-aware and typically deadpan style when asked to explain a simple answer (perhaps taken to its extreme when the round was on "nationalities ending in -ian", and even worse when the round was on "countries that have no repeated letters").
    • In one January 2015 episode, the category "Capital cities in their native languages" came up, prompting one puzzled contestant to remark, "It all looks like it's written in another language". The gaffe did not go unnoticed or unpunished.
      Alexander: To be fair, it is written is several different languages.
  • Catchphrase: Discussed in one episode when the question was about Game Show catchphrases:
    Alexander: We haven't got a catchphrase!
    Richard: You've got a catchphrase!
    Alexander: I say "Very good indeed!" rather awkwardly - a lot.
    Richard: I say "Well done if you got that at home!", that's like a catchphrase isn't it?
    Alexander: "As ever, when we say country, we're looking for a sovereign state recognised by the United Nations."
    Richard: One of my catchphrases... "Let's take a look at the pointless answers - Central African Republic!" That's a catchphrase.
    • They briefly tried out a call-and-response one (which got a Call-Back in another episode when the contestants failed to name the sitcom Bread):
    Richard: Here's a Catchphrase: 'That ain't bread, that's toast!'
    Alexander: "That ain't bread..."
    Richard: "That's toast!"
    • In addition to his Rules Spiel and the ones discussed above, Xander has "Let's see if it's right, and how many people said it"; "I'm afraid you didn't have that pointless [theme of round] knowledge", "he's my pointless friend, he's Richard", and many more.
    • And Richard has "We're looking for any feature film made for cinematic release in which [name of actor] is given an acting credit. No TV films, short films or documentaries - but voice credits do count", and "by country we mean a sovereign state and a member of the U.N in its own right."
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Comes into play when people can only win by getting a very low-scoring, if not pointless answer, so they pick an answer they've never heard of or outright make something up. Winning is spectacular, but it's much more likely you'll end up taking the 100-point penalty for a wrong answer.
    • A wonderful example: with the question being about British MPs named David, Nick or Ed (the first names of the then-leaders of the three political parties), one contestant admitted she had no idea and picked an answer by taking one of the names and a colour. Her answer - Nick Brown - was Pointless.
    • Another contestant guessed that James Brown might have been an actor in The Dirty Dozen. Armstrong made fun of it, joking that the film could've done with a bit more funk... and then the column started going down! Jim Brown note  played a prisoner in the movie, and he was a pointless answer. This contestant had scored 100 with a correct answer in the previous round.
    • One contestant was stuck and chose to guess the name of the founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints as Joseph Smith, which is very much correct (and got a low score of 9).
    • One pair, having chosen Japan as their jackpot subject in the hope of getting a geography question, instead found themselves struggling to come up with surnames of Japanese Prime Ministers since 1900. They threw in Yamamoto, admitting that their choice was based purely on the fact that they knew someone named Yamamoto commanded the Japanese navy during WW2, and lampshading that he couldn't possibly have gone on to become Prime Minister since he didn't survive the war. They were correct about that...but an unrelated Yamamoto did have short spells as Prime Minister in 1913-4 and 1923-4, and was a pointless answer, winning the contestants £3000.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alexander and Richard both have their moments.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: On the subject of Billie Piper;
    Richard: More famous as an actor now than a singer.
    Alexander: She's a very good actor, actually.
    Richard: Are you implying she wasn't a very good singer?
    Alexander: ...She's a very good actor.
  • Dissimile: In a round on British Soap Award winners, in which the first five answers all scored 100 points.
    Alexander: This is just like...whatever the opposite of shooting fish in a barrel is...
  • Double-Meaning Title: Besides the usual meaning of "Pointless", the idea is to get answers that are worth literally no points.
  • Dramatic Pause: Used between a contestant giving an answer and the column either starting to scroll down to the number of people who gave that answer, or flashing red with a fail-chord as they've given an incorrect answer.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Every now and again, a team will get two wrong answers in one round, thus "joining the 200 Club". If they manage this on both their appearances they "join the 400 Club" (especially if on both appearances they do so in the first round). The "600 Club" (which would be achieved by a 3rd 100 on the "two pairs get the same score" tiebreaker, on both appearances on the show) would be the theoretical apex of this trope, though no one has yet reached such heights of failure.
    • Best opening round ever. And two of those teams managed to get 100 on the next pass as well.
    • This was then surpassed in March 2012. The category was Robert Redford films, and only three of the 8 contestants had even heard of him. Seven Samurai and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time were among the 4 incorrect suggestions in the first pass, which were followed by two wrong answers in the second and another in the tie break. To make matters worse, two of the surviving three pairs got wrong answers in the first pass in the second round, causing the hosts to need to remind the contestants that they actually were supposed to be aiming for low scores.
    • Zizagged in a series 11 round on winners of the Best Actor/Actress at the British Soap Awards, which was another extremely high scoring round, though more through incredibly bad luck than ignorance. The first five answers all scored 100, as did the 7th, but the 6th and 8th scored four. This made the round the first in the show's history where only two different scores were achieved. Unlike previous cases where the contestants have known nothing of the subject, every answer given was a prominent soap star who just happened not to have won the award. Perhaps deservedly, the round delivered the first ever pointless answer given in a tiebreak.
    • One episode involves a Round 2 question involving, 'Wishing Songs', or songs with the word 'wish' in their names. Every single one of the six contestants got 100 points, even during lockdown, resulting in every pair having 300 points before another question had to be brought out. The high score ended up being 307.
    • On one of the celebrity specials, a contestant gave a correct answer that was worth 100 points - as in, every single survey participant had gotten it right. The music cue and light show that went with it just made the situation even more hilarious.
    • Sometimes a question with an incredibly obvious answer will show up. At least one person in the 100 people surveyed is likely to still fail to get it. Special mention goes to a question where the answer was clearly "Fish" (as in the clue gave the first and last letters and a definition) yet it somehow failed to get anywhere near 80 points.
    • An episode of the Australian series had a question on anagrams of Michael Jackson singles, one of which was "Dab". Only 66 out of 100 were able to figure out "Bad".
    • In the episode 21.08 (aired Feb 06, 2019) two pairs managed to get three answers about playwrights wrong (scoring each pair 300 points) only to then get a completely new tie-breaking question (about James Bond movies) with final scores of 321 to 304
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Whenever a French word or place name comes up in the round, Alexander always enjoys pronouncing it in a fluent but overly enthusiastic manner, sometimes slightly intimidating the contestants who have just said that word in their normal English accent.
  • Genre Blindness:
    • Sometimes affects contestants who are "safe" — someone's scored a higher total than they could possibly get — who will still opt for a high-scoring answer they're confident of rather than taking a risk-free punt and potentially raising the pot.
    • Common in the celebrity shows, where contestants might not be familiar with the programme and make elementary mistakes like picking one-syllable words in the words round or even forgetting they're supposed to score low.
  • Genre Savvy: There are many rounds where it definitely helps to be familiar with the show, and in particular with the sort of answers that tend to score low. Genre Savvy contestants will know which countries, US presidents, and chemical elements generally elude the "hundred people".
  • Gesundheit:
    Richard: This is what I would like to be: I would like to be a Kittitian.note 
    Alexander: Bless you.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • An ornithological picture round had the hosts making all the 'tit' gags they could think of, ending with Richard saying, "Think we got away with that."
    • A midwife claiming that the female reproductive system would be a good subject for her, causing Alexander to pretend to admit that he'd been asking Richard for that for ages - only not phrased in exactly those terms, as Richard quickly pointed out.
    • In a round about famous people named Richard, Osman milked the opportunity to say his own name as often as he could. Alexander's reaction to the 14 Richards the contestants were getting was "That's a whole lot of Dicks..."
    • One contestant, asked to give a word that ends in "zz," offered up "jizz."
  • Hidden Depths: Richard will sometimes ask Alexander if he knows the answers after the contestants have had a go, and Alexander sometimes turns out to have unexpectedly detailed knowledge of some subjects (such as comic book heroes and villains).
    • He does have a degree in English literature, and so can normally cover any related round with ease. In general he's normally better at the rounds than most of the contestants.
  • Humiliation Conga: Alexander gets this when he reveals the word he'd thought of for the round of "Words ending in ...ind" was "befriend". Even one of the contestants inadvertently got in on it.
  • In a World...: The man who does most of the British "In a world..." trailers, Redd Pepper, was a contestant on a "famous voices" edition of Pointless Celebrities and did them a special Pointless-themed example on the spot.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: All involving working the title into phrases. Guaranteed to happen at least once per episode with Alexander always introducing Richard as "my pointless friend..."
  • Informed Attribute: Richard is very tall (6'7"), but as he never gets up from his desk, all the jokes about his height turn into this for the audience. Richard did get up from his desk twice during the 300th episode - once to present Alexander with a gift, the other to show and hand out cake to the audience.
    • To be fair, given that Richard sitting is nearly as tall as the certainly not small Xander standing, it's fair to say it's obvious.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Right from the start, Xander has always referred to the daily prize as "the Coveted Pointless trophy".
    • Richard invariably refers to the actor Brian Cox as "Brian Cox, not that one".
  • Interface Spoiler: In older seasons, the rate at which the reflections on the sides of the points column moved would give away approximately how many points were going to be scored.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Xander will often give a silent display of satisfaction after making a particularly lame pun.
    Alexander: Where are you from?
    Contestant: We're from Halesowen.
    Alexander: Ah, Halesowen. Where the Hale's Ow-angels come from.
    *celebrates with elaborate air-drumming routine*
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    • Done gloriously by Richard in a Pointless Celebrities special which included Tony Blackburn, a past winner of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. As that show is known for making its contestants eat disgusting Australian 'bush tucker' as a challenge, Richard got some out, and said that any time a contestant got a question wrong and scored 100 points... "Xander has to eat some". Alexander's Double Take reaction has to be seen.
    • In a round of "Words ending in ...air", Alexander was about to describe an incorrect (but worthy) answer as being "unfair" before realising and succesfully switching it with "unjust".
  • Line-of-Sight Name:
    • In one round where the contestants had to name authors, one man had no idea and went for "Richard Alexander". (Just for the record, The Other Wiki has a page listing several real Richard Alexanders, none of whom are authors.)
    • One episode was asking for artists who had the 40 best-selling albums in the UK for 2015, and one contestant said Alexander Armstrong. He thought it would be wrong, but was flattered at the thought. To his surprise, the answer turned out to be not only correct, but also pointless.note 
  • Little Known Facts: In the more recent series Richard has taken to mixing some of these into the actual facts about answers he reads out at the end of the round. His deadpan delivery is such that if the joke is subtle enough, sometimes the audience can't tell if they're straight facts or or not.
  • Little "No": Alexander tends to do this when a contestant gets a question wrong.
  • Mission Control: Richard sits at a desk with a computer, giving detail on what answers they'll accept, explaining why wrong answers were wrong, etc. The computer is a prop, which was lampshaded when Alexander gave Richard a power cable for it in response to viewer complaints that it isn't plugged in.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Alexander announcing a tie in a 2011 episode in a hammy manner.
    • The dramatic chord that plays when contestants step up to the podium, as well as the manner in which the coveted Pointless trophy is introduced.
    • Similarily, the lights dimming and the set turning red in the Head-to-Head round.
    • Any time Richard makes a point of how many people have been requesting an upcoming round, how much fun it's going to be, how much he's looking forward to it, you can expect something utterly mundane like "types of trouser" or "varieties of lettuce".
    • Alexander's stock line preceding the head-to-head round: "And this is where things get even more exciting!!"
    • In one of the celebrity specials, Alexander announces the head-to-head as "the athletes versus the Chuckle Brothers!"
    • Both Alexander and Richard enjoy announcing that the show has "gone into lockdown" whenever two or more teams of contests face a tiebreaker.
  • Narrating the Obvious: Reasonably often, done by both hosts for a joke.
    • Alexander generally makes a comment as the location of the red line that indicates the score a contestant has to beat in the second pass to guarantee their progress to the next round - if the line is nigh-indistinguishable from either the top or bottom of the score indicator (due to the contestant effectively needing only to get the question right or to get a pointless answer respectively), Alexander will note with knowing understatement that the red line is "quite high/low".
    • Richard gives an explanation as to what a given correct answer means, which sometimes, particularly in the Words category, is incredibly obvious, leading to this. He will however occasionally subvert it by giving a random definition, or one that makes fun of a contestant's ridiculous incorrect answer earlier in a round. Such subversions are guaranteed if an answer is legitimate and non-vulgar, but still inappropriate for extended discussion on a tea-time show - such as when the answer "jizz" was given (for 7 points) as a word ending in "zz".
  • No Fourth Wall: Richard makes a point of acknowledging the viewers playing along with the show. Which is why one of his catchphrases is...
    Richard: Well done if you got that one at home!
  • Orphaned Punchline: Invoked in a 2019 episode in which "miniature schnauzer" was given as an answer in a round about dog breeds. Richard notes that it is the punchline to a joke, "which you can look up". Suffice to say that the joke in question is not really suitable for a teatime show.
  • Overly Long Gag: The hosts painting an exquisitely detailed picture of Sebastian Faulks settling down with a cup of tea to watch Pointless, seeing "Sebastian Faulks novels" come on, pausing the telly and calling his whole family in to watch it... only to see neither team able to think of a single one.
    Richard: Poor old Sebastian Faulks. Sitting at home, nice cup of tea, thinking, "Oh, I like Pointless..."
    Alexander: "Oh, I tell you what, I'll have a little bit of a break from my new - what is it, my seventh novel?"
    Richard: Eleventh novel!
    Alexander: "Eleventh novel - I'll just settle down and watch a little bit of Pointless..."
    Richard: Got the whole family sort of upstairs, doing things, and he says "Everyone! Everyone!" - presses pause - "They're doing me on Pointless! They're doing me on Pointless! They're gonna guess my novels! Wonder what they're going to say? Which of my novels do they like best, I wonder?" The whole family coming down the stairs - "What is it, Dad?"
    Alexander: "You're on Pointless? Quick! Dad's on Pointless!"
    Richard: All fifteen of the Faulks clan now, all sitting on sofas, he's just pressing unpause there, he's on live record - "Everyone, now, absolute quiet, sssh! Dim the lights! Pull the curtains, dim the lights, because there's a reflection on the screen!"
    Alexander: "Quickly! Ring everyone we know!"
    Richard: "There's a reflection on the screen! I can't see Tony! I can't see Tony's face when he's gonna say my novel!" And then... Look what you did!
  • Pants-Free: In the category "types of trouser", a beskirted female contestant complained that she was at a disadvantage, being the only one in the room not wearing trousers. Richard reassures her from behind his desk that he isn't, either.
    • This has turned into a bit of a Running Gag with the number of times he's mentioned it. Fortunately he has turned out to be wearing them on the rare occasions a shot is taken from far enough to one side to see.
  • Phrase Catcher: Alexander often responds to Richard's information spiels with a cordial, "Thank you very much indeed, Richard."
  • Progressive Jackpot: £1000 is added to the jackpot every episode if it isn't won. £250 is added for every Pointless answer
  • Pungeon Master: Richard.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Richard and Alexander delivered one to both couples in the head-to-head after they failed to remember any Sebastian Faulks novels, asking them to imagine what he'd think if he was watching - see Overly Long Gag.
    • Richard will sometimes give shorter ones to the anonymous 100 people in the surveys, in particular when more of them know something obscure about a frivolous subject like celebrities or reality TV than know something obvious about an important subject such as who's in David Cameron's cabinet.
  • Retool:
    • The show was revamped for HD broadcast in 2012, with a new set, a slightly changed colour scheme and some modifications to the question scheme: the first head-to-head question is now always a picture roundnote , the second is usually a "Clues to Facts about X" round, and the winning pair have a choice of five rather than three categories for the final.
    • A later revamp significantly cut down the "let's meet the contestants" bit at the beginning, scattering the introductions through the first round instead.
    • As of episode 501, the final round consists of four subjects rather than five, but there are three separate categories within it. Contestants still have 60 seconds to come up with three answers, any of which must be pointless in order to collect the jackpot, but they can give their answers in one or more categories as they see fit. However, they must specify which category they are trying for with each answer. Fundamentally, this format-change allows the show to include questions for which there might be only or two pointless answers (so as to avoid forcing contestants to give an incorrect answer, such questions were unusable before this).
  • Rule of Three: In full effect - three pages of pointless answers will be shown at the end of a round (assuming there are that many) along with the three highest scorers, the head-to-head is a best-of-three competition, and three answers must be given in the final round. Originally, there were three categories to choose from, but a further revamp added three questions to the categories.
  • Running Gag:
    • Richard Osman supposedly being related to The Osmonds.
    • The Central African Republic as an obscure answer for any question involving "Name a country that is X", invariably being Pointless. In a recent episode it actually scored 2 points and Richard joked that it was because they had been raising awareness for the country on Pointless for so long (the same thing happened in a series 8 episode with another oft-times pointless country, Vanuatu. Richard joked that he'd been given a month's holiday by the country's tourist board, which he enjoyed much more than that of CAR, which was in the middle of a civil war at the time). Such is its infamy on the show, that on the 300th episode Richard gave Alexander a framed picture of the country as a present.
    • Richard offering the opinion that Armstrong's comedy partner Ben Miller is the more talented of the pair, and that Mitchell and Webb are more talented than either of them, to which Armstrong, being the affable chap he is, will invariably meekly agree.
      • Reached new levels on 2 March 2013 Comic Relief special of Pointless Celebrities as Ben Miller himself appeared as a contestant.
    • After the contestants have been introduced and talked about their interests to Alexander, Richard claiming that the upcoming rounds are themed around one or more of the interests they have mentioned.
    • Richard claiming a particular round is exhilarating, intense, or much-requested - only for it to inevitably be something like "types of trouser" or "varieties of lettuce".
    • The show's catchphrases generally had become this by series 7, including the "That ain't bread! That's toast!" forced attempt at one. The definition of "country" (and by "country," we mean any sovereign state that's a member of the UN) has become a veritable Overused Running Gag, with Richard visibly sighing when Alexander points out that he forgot to say it.
    • Whenever a contestant mentions being interested in baking, Alexander and Richard will immediately assume that they've brought a cake and talk about how much they're looking forward to eating it. Actually happened in an episode in series 8 - the contestants were knocked out after the second round, and the promised cake was brought to them by one of the production staff at the end of the round.
    • In later series, Alexander and Richard deriding younger contestants for using "it's before my time" as an excuse for not knowing answers on a given subject (such as mid-20th century film or music), frequently pointing out reasons why this isn't acceptable (such as the music still being on sale). Richard told a 93-year-old contestant that he would have no excuse for saying this.
    • If a contestant says they're a civil servant, or is otherwise vague about their job, it will be suggested the contestant is actually a spy, which Xander and Richard think is the coolest job in the world.
    • Xander's mimes, particularly of eating.
    • Chances are an obvious answer (such as a picture of Big Ben in a round about cities) will not score 100 points. Richard will question what the people who got it wrong were thinking.
    • Richard having Xander pick a word that fits a Words category, and Richard then holding up a card showing the word that Xander just picked.
    • If there's a question about parts of the body in the Australian version, Andrew will take the opportunity to show the people at home where the body parts in question are by using Mark as his reluctant assistant.
    • Since his inauguration as President of the United States, in any round where Donald Trump is a possible answer contestants will only reluctantly give him if they don't know any other possible answer, and will otherwise avoid even saying his name if possible.
  • Schmuck Bait: Some of the wrong answers in the now-discontinued multiple choice rounds. Arguably, the very rare 100-point answers as well, since it should be obvious they're obvious (so to speak).
  • The Scottish Trope:
    • Discussed and spoofed in one episode, in which Richard said that he couldn't understand the big deal about Macbeth. He proceeded to say it repeatedly, against the warnings of Alexander about all the heavy machinery above their heads, whereupon the studio lights were briefly cut.
    • A 2013 episode has a round where the answers are all Shakespeare plays, including Macbeth. Richard and Alexander discuss whether a TV studio is sufficiently un-theatre-like for it to be safe to say, and Alexander glances nervously at the studio lights, but nothing happens — except that Richard announces that his computer (by now well-known to be a non-functional prop) has mysteriously started working.
  • Shout-Out: While eating a cake brought in by one of the contestants in an episode of series 8, both hosts delivered compliments in the style of The Great British Bake Off, quoting catchphrases of the hosts of that show as they did so.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Alexander has taken to introducing Richard in this way, similar to the Stig from Top Gear, emphasising his credentials in obscure knowledge.
    Alexander: He is our lantern in the twilit world of the half-known and the barely-remembered - he's my Pointless friend, he's Richard.
    Richard: Did you say "toilet world"?
  • Small Reference Pools: The format depends on the Small Reference Pools of its "hundred people"; the winners are the contestants who most successfully defy the trope. Frequently discussed, as Richard and/or Xander express surprise at how high an obscure answer, or how low a stupendously obvious one, scores.
  • Swapped Roles: Xander and Richard swapped roles for the 1000th episode.
  • Take That!:
    • Regarding the pointless astronomical phenomenon of "protostars":
    Richard: They're huge gas balls that haven't yet become a fully fledged star.
    Alexander: Like some of the people on Britain's Got Talent, you mean?
    • Richard actually apologised to the contestants when the category was "Rolf Harris top 40 singles"note .
    • Alexander once introduced Richard as "the only man who spends more time thinking about pointless things than the cast of The Only Way Is Essex".
    • The 16/08/17 episode had a words round where the contestant gave the answer "Chase". Richard then gave the definition as "underperforming in the ratings". The rest of the round had him making fun of The Chase.
  • Tempting Fate: So many times, Alexander will point out how close the Pointless Final answer is getting to zero...only for it to then stop.
  • Title Drop: They have a lot of fun with it. "You've won our Pointless trophy", "Let's see if you can win our Pointless jackpot", "You won't be surprised to hear there are a lot of Pointless Madonna movies/Cliff Richard songs/[insert category here]", etc.
  • Unobtainium: Once invoked as an answer to "Elements whose name begins with their chemical symbol". In the jackpot round... as the contestants' most confident answer. Ooops.
  • Verbal Tic: "Lovely low score", "Great contestants", "Wow!" (Alexander Armstrong).
  • Witty Banter: Like Countdown, the presence of a co-host gives the presenter someone to riff off, keeping up the energy of the Filler segments. Unlike Countdown (or most shows utilising Witty Banter, for that matter) the people involved are genuinely witty.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: Richard calling Alexander "Xander".
  • Yes-Man: Alexander himself was once one of the possible answers in a round (the round in question being actors to appear in Doctor Who Christmas specials). One of the contestants gave him as an answer, prefacing it with mentions of what a wonderful actor this person was and how much they admired him.


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