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Series / Sale of the Century

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"Today on America's BIGGEST bargain sale, we're offering a Datsun 300ZX, valued at $26,194 for only $530! Cash and prizes worth over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND dollars for only $750! TWO of the incredible bargains on... SALE OF THE CENTURY!"

Game Show that originally ran on NBC from 1969 to 1973, followed by weekly syndication for the 1973/74 season. The show was created and executive produced by Al Howard two years after the conclusion of another program of his, Supermarket Sweep on American Broadcasting Company. It was originally hosted by Jack Kelly, who was replaced by Joe Garagiola in 1971. The show was directed by Paul Alter. Three solo contestants (from April 1973 to September 1974, two husband-wife teams) accumulated small amounts of money by answering general-knowledge questions. At certain points in the game, the player/couple in the lead could spend part of their score on ridiculously discounted prizes. Unlike most games, Sale allowed all players to take home whatever money and prizes were credited to them, regardless of the outcome.

During the show's run in the United Kingdom (1971-83), Sale was purchased by Australian producer Reg Grundy, who made some tweaks to the format (primarily the addition of the Fame Game, where the host read off clues to the identity of a famous person, place or thing; answering correctly gave the contestant a chance to pick up more prizes, cash for their score or to pocket, and other things), and debuted a version in his native country, beginning transmission on the Nine Network on July 14, 1980. note 

After this became a major success as well, he took it to NBC with Jim Perry as host. This era ran on NBC from 1983 to 1989, with a concurrent syndicated version airing daily from January 1985 to June 1986 (also hosted by Perry). The Australian version, meanwhile, continued until 2001. The United Kingdom has also had two revivals, one from 1989 to 1992 on Sky One (as part of its initial lineup with the launch of its service on the Astra Satellite); and the other from 1997 to 1998 on Challenge TV.

In 2005, Sale was revived in Australia as Temptation, which was fairly faithful to the original and ran until 2009. This version in turn spun off an American version, Temptation: The New Sale of the Century, a low-budget knockoff that was canceled after its low-rated disaster of a first season.

This series provides examples of:

  • All or Nothing: Used in various ways with respect to the bonus round. Defeated champions always kept the cash/prizes they had won in the main game.
    • Shopping era: a defeated champ left without any bonus prizes.
    • Winner's Board (US version): a champ who cleared the board could either quit and keep all the prizes, or risk them and play one more game. Win, and they retired with the prizes and a $50,000 bonus; lose, and they lost everything.
    • Winner's Board (Australian version): After every win, the champ had to decide whether to quit or risk all their bonus prizes on the next game.
  • The Announcer:
    • Bill Wendell announced the 1969-74 version. Jay Stewart announced from 1983 until he was fired from the show in January 1988 due to his heavy drinking. He was replaced by Don Morrow for the remainder of that run.
    • In Australia, the announcer was primarily Pete Smith, who joined the show at the start of its third week and remained for the rest of the run.
    • The first UK series had Peter Marshall as the first announcer (he would later host the Sky version); John Benson soon replaced him. The Sky version had Mitch Johnson early on, then Martin Buchanan; the Challenge version had Robin Houston (also an ex-Thames employee; he was an anchor for Thames' local news broadcasts).
  • Annual Title: Subverted by the Australian version, which briefly renamed itself Sale of the New Century in 2000.
  • The Artifact: In the Australian version, Cash Card was given a retool in 1994 (concurrent with a set change) that saw it switch from using actual playing cards to four different slot machines (albeit with the four suit symbols on the machines), thus rendering the name a Non-Indicative Name.
  • Auction: Done on an Instant Bargain when there was either a tie for the lead or a three-way tie. A Dutch auction was held, with the host slowly lowering the price until one of the tied players buzzed in to take the deal.
  • Big Win Sirens: The stock "NBC sirens" were heard if a major prize or the Lot was won at the end of the show. A "win music" cue was also played for significant wins,note  and would sound again during the closing fee plugs and credits of that show.
  • Bonus Round: The 1980s version had three, all allowing for potential winnings of over $100,000.
    • The first was almost identical to the original, simply called Shopping: the champion could use their accumulated money from the front game to buy one of the progressively fancier prizes available, or try for a larger prize by coming back the next day. Reaching a specific target won all the onstage prizes plus a cash jackpot, referred to as the Lot. Originally, there was no cash jackpot; instead, some extra cash was thrown in, to make the entire prize package worth $95,000. Later, when the jackpot, which started at $50,000 and increased by $1,000 each time it wasn't won, was addednote , it was designated at the second-to-last level as a stand-alone prize. Most contestants who made it that far opted to leave once they got the jackpot. Only Barbara Phillips walked away with the jackpot and all the prizes. The syndicated version used this for its first ten months before being replaced by the Winner's Board; for that run, the cash jackpot was only obtainable on the last level, along with the rest of the prizes, making that version's shopping round much closer to the Australian version.
    • This was replaced in October 1984 (November 18, 1985 on the syndicated edition) by the Winner's Board, a simple matching game with 20 spaces. Most of the spaces contained matching prizes, but two of the spaces held "WIN" cards which allowed the instant win of a prize revealed in the next pick (the top prizes of a car and $10,000 could only be won this way). Once a champion cleared the board, they could risk these prizes to play one more time; winning that game won an extra $50,000.
      • The Aussie Winner's Board (which replaced Shopping in 1989) had only seven major prizes (six from 1989 to mid-1992), and a 12-space board. The only way to win the car was by uncovering the "WIN" card first. Unlike the American version, the major prizes were always at risk, so champions were given a choice whether or not to continue after matching a prize. Also, the Progressive Jackpot carried over from the Shopping bonus round, often resulting in large cash jackpots. (From mid-1992 {after Rob Kusmierski won the Lot} until the final episode in 2001, an additional prize was added to the board, therefore a winning contestant had to finish with a score of $100 or more to have the chance to reveal the car on the board.)
    • On December 28, 1987, this was changed to the Winner's Big Money Game, a speed round with a series of word puzzles (originally 5 in 25 seconds, later 4 in 20 seconds), played for $5,000 plus $1,000 per show up to $10,000, then a new car (if a champ lost this particular WBMG, they had to retire), then $50,000. This was originally used as a bonus game for Matchmates, a failed pilot produced by Reg Grundy in 1985 (hosted by a young Michael Burger).
    • For the Australian Temptation, it was a money ladder style system for the prizes: nice prizes for the first five nights, all of them (including the car) for night six, all of them plus the cash jackpot for night seven, and night eight doubled the jackpot. To put money in the jackpot (starting at $50,000), they would play a game called Top Ten: answer 10 questions in 60 seconds, and accomplishing this would add $50,000 more to the jackpot. Players would choose one set out of five for the questions. The highest the jackpot could go was $800,000.
  • Bonus Space:
    • Instant Bargain/Gift Shop and Instant Cash/Cashbox/Cash Card/Vault could count for this, but mainly the Fame Game (some spaces added to a contestant's score, while the others contained prizes or a sizable cash award).
    • For a short time, a contestant who bought an Instant Bargain could win back the money he/she had spent on it by correctly answering a "Money Back Question" immediately afterward.
    • A "Sale Surprise" could pop up at any point during an Instant Bargain/Gift Shop, which could be worth cash up to $1,000 or a bonus prize. The contestant didn't find out whether one was in play until after he/she had decided whether to buy the prize or pass.
    • The Fame Game also had one briefly. Shortly after introducing the $5 Money Card, there was a "$5+" card, meaning whoever found it got both the $5 score boost and another pick, receiving whatever prize, cash, or score boost was hidden there. As the "$400 or Pick Again" card was in play at this time, this potentially meant up to three spaces could be uncovered during a single Fame Game playing.
    • Two WIN cards were hidden on the Winner's Board for each of a champ's first eight visits to it. Finding one of these meant that the champ would automatically win the next prize they found. Also served as the first half of a Double Unlock for the two biggest prizes, a car and $10,000 cash, since each of these only appeared once.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Used in two different ways.
    • Starting with the addition of the cash jackpot as a bonus prize, the opening sequence included a shot of a leather briefcase being opened to reveal a pile of $100 bills.
    • Any cash bonus prize or jackpot was represented by a transparent plastic case filled with bundled bills, carried by a Lovely Assistant (and handed to the champ if he/she bought or won it). Before the jackpot was put into the game, this included the bonus awarded to any contestant who bought the Lot (to bring its total value up to $95,000). The case replaced a hanging safe previously used for the purpose, which was similarly made of plastic and filled with money, albeit surrounded by a metal "cage" of sorts.
  • Celebrity Edition: The Aussie version had a few weeks set aside for celebrities playing the game for home viewers or for charity, depending on the format for the week.
    • A Day in the Limelight: On the 40 Years of Television special in 1996, Pete Smith competed and ultimately advanced to the finals. Gary Coleman (yes, THAT Gary Coleman) subbed as announcer for the final episode of the event — he was pretty good! Also, during the Temptation era, Ed Philips and Livinia Nixon once played the game as part of a special "Battle of the Network Shows" week. Filling in for them as host and hostess? Tony Barber and Alyce "Sparky" Platt.
    • The original version in the 1970s with Joe Garagiola, during the couples' format, featured at lest one towards the end of the daytime edition in 1973. It was a Mother's Day week edition that aired during the week of May 7, 1973, with two female celebrities helping out two female contestants win cash and prizes. Celebrities during that week were Nanette Fabray and Anita Gillette.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Lovely Assistant: "Normally priced at $xx, today/tonight, it's yours for only $xx on $ale of the Century."
    • Host (when one of the female models was wearing a bikini or sexy outfit, or the male models was bare-chested): "We are selling the (Instant Bargain item)."
    • Host: "Going once... Going twice... No Sale!"
    • On 1985-1989 episodes with the randomizer for the Fame Game board:
    Contestant: "$__ Money!"
    Host: "No, lands on #_, and (s)he gets..."
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In the Reg Grundy versions since its debut in Australia in 1980, the front of the hosts' podium had different colored square-lights (green, yellow and red), flashing on a black board. They would form a shape to indicate the type of answer given. A green check mark indicated a correct answer, a yellow question mark indicated that more information should be given on a particular answer, and a red X indicated that the answer was incorrect. These were also used on the US version; a frequent mid-show bumper would have an out-of-focus close up of these lights with the show's logo displayed towards the top of the screen.
    • For the Winner's Big Money Game, the contestant would be given a choice of three envelopes to pick from: red, yellow or blue.
  • Confetti Drop: Confetti and balloons were released at the end of the show any time a contestant hit the Lot or decided to leave the show with a sizable prize during the Shopping era; used also for big wins at the Winner's Board or Winner's Big Money Game, and at the end of the 1989 Grand Finale.
  • Consolation Prize: Contestants were given their final score in cash on most versions, along with anything won from Fame Games, Instant Bargains, etc.
    • During the Winner's Board era of the NBC run, any contestant who played for $50,000 and lost forfeited all Winner's Board prizes. No contestant who ever went for the top prize lost, although one (future game show host Mark DeCarlo, the first player to win in this format) won the $50,000 only after an opponent answered the tiebreaker question incorrectly.
    • The Australian version famously gave all contestants the show's pin and board game:
    Pete Smith: [The runners-up] both receive the push-button $ale of the Century game from Crown and Andrews plus our champagne-colored diamond-set stickpin from Bruce and Walsh Jewelers and $ale of the Century. note 
  • Cut Short: The last NBC episode in 1973 had the day's winning couple electing to come back the following Monday; during the credits, announcer Bill Wendell stated that this was in fact the last episode and the producers gave the couple the prize they were working for (a trip to Acapulco, according to one recollection) anyway.
  • Different in Every Episode: The Fame Game board consisting of celebrities on the Aussie version. Averted with the U.S. version early on, in which the same board was used for the whole taping day.
  • Double Unlock: On the Aussie version from mid-1992 (after Rob Kusmierski won the Lot) to 2001, the rules involving winning the car were changed. In order to win the car, a player had to do the following.
    1. Win the game with $100 or...
    2. Play Cash Card and pick the suit which had the "CAR" symbol and then win the game. (This rule was added in 1994.)
    3. Then, after winning the game, they had to find the "WIN" card on the Winner's Board, then find the CAR. (If the board was cleared and the car hadn't been won, it was made the major prize on the next show, followed by the jackpot.)
    • During the Winner's Board, in order to win the big-ticket prizes (such as the CAR, or the $10,000 in the American version), the champion must first find the "WIN" card, then pick the CAR/$10,000.
  • Double the Dollars: One of the spaces on Temptation's Fame Game board was "Turbo", which increased the money offered by the next three questions to $10; if you got it wrong you would lose $10, making it a double-edged sword.
  • Downer Ending:
    • On the U.S. Syndicated edition, Michael Friedman only had $101 left to buy everything at the end of the show, but on his 9th and last game (April 1, 1985), he lost to Alice Conkwright.
    • Hell, pretty much any champion that plays for a big prize (whether it's the car, the cash jackpot, all the prizes on stage, or the Lot {all the prizes on stage AND the cash jackpot}) and loses counts as this.
    • Champions who lose the Winner's Big Money Game when playing for a car or $50K (even though they had already won quite a bit up to that point), since they retire undefeated automatically if they lose.
    • Ed and Livinia losing on their own show at the very last second in the Battle of the Network Shows against "What's Good For You".
  • Dumb Blonde: Sally Julian. She had a squeaky voice, and would often be very inarticulate, constantly stuttering, and relying on cue cards. This led to her dismissal, and replacement by more competent co-hosts Lee Menning and, later, Summer Bartholomew.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • On early episodes of the original 1969–74 version, an "Open House" round was played, usually about halfway through a particular episode. Five prizes were presented to the contestants and each could buy as many of them as he or she wanted. Unlike Instant Bargains, multiple contestants could buy the same item. This was later replaced with an "Audience Sale" round in which three members of the studio audience guessed the "sale price" of an item. The one that bid closest without going over won the item. The three contestants could increase their score by correctly guessing which, if any, audience member would win.
    • At least one early episode of the weekly '73-'74 Syndicated version, according to one account, had a different endgame. Originally, each prize had a sale price, and Garagiola asked questions worth $100 each, which was added to the couple's score from the game. When the amount reached the sale price of a prize, the couple could buy the prize or keep playing for a more expensive prize. All the others had something else called "The Game of Champions". The three prizes had sale amounts ($150, $300, and $600). The winning couple chose a prize and had to answer three questions (worth $50, $100, or $200 each, depending on the prize) in order to win.
    • On the Australian version:
      • Ron Neate announced the first two weeks before Pete Smith took over for the remaining 21 years.
      • The prize budget was much lower at first; there was no jackpot, and in the first weeks, the shopping prizes were rather mundane (e.g. a $4,000 dining room as a higher level prize). The Fame Game prizes were even less valuable (such that they didn't even announce their values on the air like they eventually ended up doing). By the end of 1980, the budget started getting better, increasing by the introduction of the jackpot to the standard of prizes the show used for the rest of the run.
      • Originally, the $25 was placed on the Fame Game board for the first Fame Game question; this led to the later questions being pointless if someone found the money after the first question. By mid-1983, $10 and $15 were added into the mix, as was the Wild Card.
      • The Speed Round was nowhere to be found; the game ended with three regular questions instead (and the first episode ended with only one question). Fast Money, as Tony called the 60 seconds, was added by the end of 1983.
    • 1983-1989 U.S. version:
      • In the beginning, the show more or less resembled its Australian counterpart with Tony Barber, right down to the beige set, rainbow buzzers, celebrity Fame Game faces, and Shopping endgame. Perry had the contestants test their buzzers on the air, just prior to beginning the game (later, these were tested off air). Instant Bargains were straightforward in presentation and had Perry haggling with the contestants. From January through May 1983, the Shopping Round was different, with lower target prices (which changed from week to week, with the car hovering anywhere from $301 to $390), the luxury car at the end was a Mercedes Benz (always worth at least $35,000 and introduced with a trumpet fanfare leading into the show's main theme) and there was no cash jackpot; the total amount of all the prizes was $95,000, and whatever the cumulative amount of the six prizes was, the balance was made up of usually $5,000 to $9,000. Plus, there was the "three final questions" following the final Fame Game, and all too often it was simply anti-climactic, with the questions only establishing whether the winner would have enough to buy the next highest-priced item or earn cash toward that prize. Finally, a different victory musical cue, based on the main theme, was played whenever a contestant won all the prizes including the car.
      • Within a year, changes were made, slightly differentiating the U.S. and Australian versions. The cash jackpot was added in late May 1983, the luxury cars were scaled down to Cadillacs, a different "win" cue was used for car/cash jackpot/"the lot" winners, the set was given a gold/orange makeover and the celebrity faces were replaced with a conventional 1–9 numbering system. This would be changed in mid-to-late-1985 to the contestant stopping a randomized flashing light by buzzing in. In late 1984, under pressure from NBC to have a traditional endgame and conserve budget, the Shopping endgame was replaced with the Winner's Board, which was later replaced by the Winner's Big Money Game. (The syndicated version, which debuted in January 1985, used the traditional shopping format for about the first year.) In contrast, the Australian version had the original set until 1985, and the Shopping endgame until 1988, with the Winner's Board taking over from 1989 to the end of the run in 2001. Oddly enough, while the Aussie $ale updated its set for the first time in 1986, the American version kept its 1984 gold set all the way up to its cancellation in 1989.
      • The syndicated version: The very earliest episodes used a different pricing structure to obtain major prizes. Under this format, $720 was needed for all six major prizes alone and $830 for the lot and the cash jackpot; when it was realized this might take too long for contestants to achieve, the target scores were reduced to $640 for just the shopping prizes (never taken) and $750 for all the prizes plus the cash jackpot. Also, the announcer began the opening spiel with "Tonight on America's biggest bargain sale … ," rather than "Today … ."
      • On the 1983-89 version, the Fame Game was originally picking one of the cards, for anywhere from $5 to $25, and some other prizes and bonus spaces. On October 14, 1985 on the syndicated edition (daytime edition date unknown as of this writing), a randomizer was installed on the board, and the $5 card was removed. Also, the money cards were revealed prior to the contestants' stopping the randomizer.
    • Temptation:
      • The first series was a bit different — the Temptation Vault had a max value of $5,000 (and was offered in round 1), the Burglar merely took $5 away from an opponent's score and didn't add onto the score of whoever picked it, Turbo applied to all three contestants, the Wild Card was still $1,000 and the bonus round was different. Specifically, the jackpot had a money ladder going up to $100,000, and if you passed or gave a wrong answer it would reset. Also, instead of staying for eight nights to double the jackpot, they'd win on night seven the prizes, the jackpot (which didn't double; here it had a max of $600,000) and $500,000 in gold bullion. No, they actually had that as part of the Lot!
  • End-of-Series Awareness:
    • By January 1989, the staff clearly realized the series was on its last legs; after one contestant plug that month, Jim Perry added "we'd love to have you down quick!"
    • When the final week rolled around, the studio's prize areas (for both Instant Bargains and what was then the Big Money Winner's Game) were clearly disassembled, as though the producers were beginning to take things apart. Perry announced on the Monday show that this was indeed their final week, references to the cancellation were sprinkled throughout the week, and several Instant Bargains reflected that theme. On the next-to-last episode, a special Garage Sale Instant Bargain was held with more than $8,000 in previously unwon merchandise up for offer (the contestant bought it); and on the finale, after the contestant played the Instant Cash game but failed to find the correct box containing $1,000, Perry simply commented that the cash would forever be unclaimed.
  • Episode Code Number: There were two different kinds on both 1980s daytime and syndicated editions with Jim Perry. On the daytime show, a conventional numbering system was used. On the syndicated show, each episode was labeled with an "S" for "Syndication" at the start of the number.
  • Extra Turn: In the second 1980s version of the Fame Game, two of the cards were "$400/Mystery Money or Pick Again", changed to "or Try Again" when contestants chose a number with their buzzers. The syndicated version had "Trip or Pick Again". If a contestant was trailing in score and needed a Money Card to catch up, they'd take that extra turn.
    • Briefly in the NBC daytime version, from October 1984 through early 1985, the Fame Game added a "$5+" card, which meant the contestant added $5 to his score, then immediately got to pick another Fame Game number and added either additional money to his score (i.e., two Money Cards in one round), or either the cash or prize behind the second square. It is presumed that the "(Cash/Trip) or Pick Again" squares were also in play during this time and the contestants could take that option if presented.
    • The Aussie version added the "Wild Card" to the final Fame Game in 1986, with the option of taking either $1,000 ($2,000 on Temptation) or picking another celebrity.
  • Fake Food: On one early Jim Perry episode, Jay Stewart was wearing a hat decorated with fruit and cream. Jim walked up and dipped his finger in the cream... only to discover that it was shaving cream.
  • Garage Sale: A special "Instant Bargain" offered on occasion. This was simply a grouping of Instant Bargain prizes not purchased on previous episodes, with the twist being that if the player being offered the "Garage Sale" prize package declined, his/her opponents were given an opportunity to buy, with Perry conducting a Dutch auction, lowering the price to as low as $1 if needed, until someone either bought the items or all three players declined. The "Garage Sale," played roughly once every few weeks, was the only time a player not in the lead had the opportunity to participate in an Instant Bargain, and Perry often would comment that it allowed players who might not win or otherwise have such an opportunity to come away with some prize winnings. Additionally, while a number of the "Garage Sale" groupings often had the show's more offbeat offerings (such as the infamous fish-shaped soup terrine), there were always more desirable prizes included as well, such as a color TV or a trip, to entice a purchase.
  • Game Show Host:
    • Jack Kelly from 1969 to 1971, followed by Joe Garagiola. Jim Perry of Card Sharks fame hosted in the 1980s. According to newspaper articles from back in the day, Kelly left to focus on his acting career, and due to getting exhausted of commuting from Los Angeles to New York City. However, according to Randy West, creator Al Howard was not happy with putting up with Kelly due to too many disagreements with him, and wanted wriggle out from under that emcee commitment as soon as possible.
    • Nicholas Parsons hosted all of the original British version. The Sky version was hosted by Peter Marshall (formerly a continuity announcer for Thames Television); Keith Chegwin presided over the Challenge TV version.
    • The Australian version was originally helmed by Tony Barber (14 July 1980-19 April 1991), followed by Glenn Ridge (22 April 1991-November 2001) and Ed Phillips (Temptation).
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: Averted by the 1980s version, as it had the possibility to give out jackpots in excess of $100,000.
  • Golden Snitch:
    • Early in the 1980s run, the last Fame Game of the day was followed by only three more questions. This gave the last Fame Game the potential to put the game out of reach if someone was either in the lead or less than $10 behind and hit the $25 Money Card.
    • Also, in the early days (early years in Australia) of the Fame Game, there was only one Money Card (worth $25), and if it was uncovered in the first or second round it basically made subsequent Fame Games worthless, as there were only small prizes left available.
    • Subverted in later seasons; one Money Card was added to the board on each Fame Game—first $10, then $15, and finally $25. Also, from 1989 to mid-1992 in the Australian version, a fourth Fame Game round was added, with a $20 Money Card {played third, followed by the $25 Fame Game round}.
  • Home Participation Sweepstakes:
    • The U.S. version ran a Dollar Bill Contest for two weeks in the fall of 1984. At the end of each game, viewers tried to match the first six digits in the serial number of any $1 bills they had on hand against the players' final scores, read left to right. All viewers with winning bills could mail them in to receive either $25 or equal shares of a $30,000 jackpot, whichever was greater.
    • Another U.S. contest invited viewers to send in postcards. Jim drew one before each Fame Game, and that viewer won whatever cash or prize the player got from the board (or $1,000 cash if they hit a Money Card).
    • Yet another contest ran for two weeks in 1985, involving Sale and two other NBC game shows, Scrabble and Super Password. The Sale portion gave one clue per day to the identity of a famous person; viewers had to write that person's name on a postcard and send it in. One $50,000 grand prize winner and fifteen $1,000 runner-up winners were chosen from all the cards that had the correct answer to any of the three shows' contests.
    • The Aussie version had two such examples—a "Home Viewer" which appeared in the middle box of the Fame Game board from 1987 to 2001, and those that were chosen as partners for the celebrity versions.
  • Jump Cut: Happened in every episode with the Winner's Big Money Game. After Jim and the winning contestant reached the podiums, they would stop tape, and equip the contestant with a body mic. After resuming tape, Jim would then show him/her the three colored envelopes.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: Subverted with "Mystery Money or Pick/Try Again". If someone picked the latter option, the value of the Mystery Money was not revealed.
  • Lovely Assistant:
    • Barbara Lyon from 1969 to 1971, then Kit Dougherty. There was also one named Madelyn Sanders, but it is not clear exactly when she was on the original show.
    • Perry's era had three: Sally Julian (January 3 to March 11, 1983), Lee Menning (March 14, 1983-December 28, 1984), and Summer Bartholomew (December 31, 1984-March 24, 1989); Lou Mulford and announcer Jay Stewart filled in on occasion.
    • In Australia, the assistants were Victoria Nichols (14 July 1980-22 October 1982), Delvene "Delly" Delaney (25 October 1982-November 1985), and Alyce "Sparky" Platt (28 January 1986-19 April 1991) for Tony Barber. Jo Bailey (22 April 1991-late 1993), Nicky Buckley (7 February 1994-November 1999), and Karina Brown (21 February 2000-November 2001) were the assistants for Glenn Ridge. Generally subverted, though, in that half the models showcasing the Instant Bargains were male.
    • The Australian Temptation was also true to its predecessor with Livinia Nixon as the assistant, but about half the Gift Shop prizes were modeled by Scott McGregor.
  • Lucky Charms Title:
    • Everywhere except the United Kingdom, the title was spelled with a dollar sign, making it $ale of the Century.
    • The original 1969-73 logo not only used the dollar sign but also a cent sign, making it $ale of the ¢entury.
  • Moment Killer: Playfully by Perry during the 1983-1989 U.S. run, during Instant Bargains and shopping-round prizes, when a model was wearing a sexy outfit or in swimwear: "We are selling the (prize)."
  • Mystery Box: The "Mystery Money" option on the Fame Game board. It ran from a low of $1.75 to a high of $1,500.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: During the original U.S. run, Sale had a rule in which any contestant falling to zero or below at any time was immediately eliminated from the game; the remaining contestants continued to play until the standard end of the game. Very rarely did two contestants get eliminated in this fashion – most likely, never all three, as the game would simply have progressed to the bonus round early.
  • Opening Narration:
    • For the American versions:
      • 1969-74: "Today on the Sale of the Century, the total retail value of our prizes is more than $XX,XXX. These three players/two couples will have an opportunity to buy these prizes. (Players names, hometown, and occupation), (and welcome back our returning champion(s)) (champion(s)) who told us (s)he/they would like to buy (prizes)) And now here is the star of the Sale of the Century, Jack Kelly/Joe Garagiola!"
      • The announcer introduced the returning champion and their winnings, a constant throughout the run. During the Shopping era, the announcer always advised the audience to stay tuned, as the contestant was playing for a big-ticket item ("Stand by to see [contestant name] play for a cash jackpot worth $83,000!").
    • During the Shopping era, the announcer would say "Today/Tonight, on America's biggest bargain sale, we're offering [name of luxury car and retail value] for [amount], a cash jackpot of [amount] for [amount]. Two of the incredible bargains on Sale of the Century!"
      • For the syndicated Shopping episodes, the opening narration was a combination of this and the daytime Winner's Board intro. When the daytime show had the Shopping format with cash jackpot, only its current amount was mentioned, set to a shot of big bills being poured into a wide glass canister.
      • (During the Winners Board and Winners Big Money Game eras) "So far, (champion) has won cash and prizes totaling... (total)! Today, one of our contestants could win (prize #1), (prize #2), (prize #3), or a trip to (location)! And continue a journey towards a fortune in cash and prizes, including this (car) and $50,000 in cash! In total, over $100,000 on ... Sale of the Century!"
    • From the British version, "From Norwich... It's the Quiz of the Week..."; the Sky One and Challenge versions were nigh-identical to the 1980's American spiel.
    • The Australian opening was also virtually identical to the 1980s American one: "Tonight, on Australia's biggest bargain sale, we're offering (name of luxury car and retail value) for (amount), (secondary prize and retail value) for (amount). Two of the incredible bargains on Sale of the Century!"
      • When the Cash Jackpot debuted on 16 August 1982, the second prize was replaced with "cash to the total of (amount) for (amount)." Soon afterwards, the car's "sale price" was valued at $515, with the Cash Jackpot replaced by "all the prizes plus a cash jackpot of (amount) for $700."
      • When the Winner's Board came to Australia in 1989, the opening changed to the the announcer naming two of the major prizes available, followed by the car (and its value), and the cash jackpot of (amount). "All on the World's Richest Quiz...Sale of the Century!"
      • When the New Century came around, the intro was changed to "Tonight, on the World's Richest Quiz, we're offering..." and the ending to "All on Australia's Premier Quiz...Sale of the (New) Century!"
  • Pilot: Both the 1969-74 and the 1983-89 versions had one, with the former having Bill Wendell actually hosting and the announcer's booth occupied by Wayne Howell.
  • Progressive Jackpot:
    • For the Shopping era of the 1980s NBC version (and first 10 months of the syndicated run), the top prize was a jackpot which began at $50,000 and increased by $1,000 per show until claimed. The jackpot (which could be won separately or together with the other big-ticket prizes) often topped $75,000, and the highest it ever got was $109,000.
      • From 16 August 1982 until the end of its run, the Aussie jackpot started at $50,000 and increased by $2,000 per show until claimed. The jackpot (which was a part of the Lot) often topped the six-figure mark, with the highest being $508,000.
    • Starting in March 1986 on the NBC version and continuing to the end of the run, the third Instant Bargain was replaced with Instant Cash, which allowed the contestant in the lead a 1-in-3 shot at a jackpot of $1,000 plus $1,000 for each show it was not won; the catch was that the contestant had to spend the entire amount of their lead to guess which box held the cash. If the contestant played and guessed wrongly (the two other boxes/wallets had $100 as a consolation), they were shown the correct box. It was seldom played because players who led by more than a few dollars were more interested in winning the game, resulting in the game topping $20,000 at least twice.
      • The Australian version's Instant Cash was initially known as the Cash Box, which was the same as the American version except the jackpot started at $2,000 and increased by $1,000 each day until wonnote . This was replaced with the Cash Card in 1989note , which started the jackpot at $5,000 and increased by $1,000 each day until won. Unlike Cash Box, the Cash Card cost a flat $15, and for the first few years the second-place player was given a chance to play by selecting one of the three remaining cards if the leader initially refused (with the jackpot taken out of play). The jackpot and second-place option were dropped in mid-1992 (after Rob Kusmierski won the Lot), with the Cash Card now worth a flat $5,000 (sometimes $10,000; at the discretion of the host); around the same time, the Joker was replaced by "Take $5" (letting you take $5 off an opponent's score). In 1994, the cards were replaced with slot machines, and the "Take $5" option was replaced by the "CAR" symbol, allowing the player a chance to win the car (though the "Take $5" option would occasionally be reused for celebrity specials and the like).
    • For the Australian Temptation, the jackpot started at $50,000 and went up every time they cleared a rapid-fire quiz; if they stayed for eight nights, the amount was doubled (with an $800,000 max).
  • Retired Game Show Element: Both the American and Australian versions had their fair share of changes:
    • The American version briefly offered anyone who bought an Instant Bargain a chance to immediately win back the money they'd just spent by answering a "Money Back Question" unopposed. This feature was dropped after a week.
    • The Progressive Jackpot was eliminated in favor of a flat $50,000 bonus when shopping was retired from the American versions (daytime and syndicated).
    • The Australian version, upon switching to the Winner's Board, also added a fourth Fame Game to the proceedings (with $20 being added to the board in the added round). When champions began needing $100 or more to play for the car, the $20 and the fourth Fame Game disappeared completely.
    • As mentioned above, the Cash Box in Australia, which was retooled into Cash Card in 1989.
    • The fourth contestant added as part of the Australian New Century format was dropped when the show reverted to the original title in 2001 (but the low scorer was still eliminated before the game-ending Fast Money).
  • Rearrange the Song: The 1980s American theme was composed in 1982 by Ray Ellis and his son Marc, mostly based on Jack Grimsley's original 1980 recording for the Australian version. Both Ray & Marc have composed music for other American Reg Grundy games as well, including Scrabble. To go with the debut of the Winner's Big Money Game, Ray & Marc composed an updated version of the main theme along with a brand-new music package.
    • The original Jack Grimsley arrangement was itself updated three times during the Australian run: 1986, 1989, and 2000.
    • The main theme on the 1980s version was titled "Mercedes". Symbolic, because many of the cars that were given away on the show were, in fact, a Mercedes-Benz. A Mercedes-Benz was even the very first car offered on both Australian and American Reg Grundy versions.
  • Shout-Out: The dollar amounts on the Fame Game board during the 1980s were called "Money Cards" by Perry.
  • Speed Round: Whoever was in the lead after 60 seconds at $5 per question won the game. (This was instituted sometime in March 1984, replacing what was often an anticlimactic final series of three questions at $5 per correct answer.)note 
  • Undesirable Prize:
    • During the 1980s shopping run, several prominent contestants were known to refuse even the most desirable Instant Bargains, particularly when a large end-game prize was at stake. One of the most well-known examples was Alice Conkwright, who during her six-day championship run refused every Instant Bargain; during the third Instant Bargain on her final show (where she was playing for a $136,275 Lot), Perry unsuccessfully swayed her to buy by offering her $2,000, usual SOP for this circumstance.
    • As mentioned above, Instant Cash. Unless the lead was very small (or in some cases, when two contestants were tied for the lead, in which case Perry would conduct a Dutch auction), the contestants invariably would decline to take the gamble.
    • Everything on the UK version, mainly because the broadcasting rules of the time placed a strict limit on prize value (the second incarnation being on the still-emerging Sky Channel didn't help matters either, giving it a reduced budget overall). The Benny Hill Show note  parodied this at least twice, one of which felt eerily like the American Temptation.
    • In Australia, the Cash Card game from 1989 to mid-1992 featured a "Joker" as one of the hidden items, which was a booby prize.
  • Whammy: On Temptation, the Fame Game had a "Burglar" space, which allowed the contestant who picked it to deduct cash from an opponent's score. Another one was the "Lock-Out" space, which locked an opponent out of the next three questions.
  • Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": The series went to an updated look in the New Century overhaul, with a larger, darker set, more dramatic music, and a fourth contestant who would be eliminated from play before the first Fast Money round. Not only that, they also held "Millionaire Challenges" which was basically desperation on the part of the Nine Network (where Sale was faltering in comparison to the actual Australian adaptation of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?). Downplayed with Temptation— the set was brighter-colored, though dramatic music was still used, and a money ladder was used in the bonus game to establish the jackpot.
  • Zonk: The former option to "Mystery Money or Pick/Try Again" on the Fame Game board ran the risk of being this. Its lowest confirmed value was $1.75.