A German game and/or reality show, where a single contestant must compete against someone else in a series of challenges. If the contestant wins the match, they win a cash jackpot. If the challenger wins, it is carried over to the next episode. However, there's a few things about this show that really made it special:
- A. They only do it 6 nights per-year.
- B. It's live, and often takes all night to finish.
- C. Its top prize has gotten to 3.5 million (and at our current exchange rate, that's about US$4.6 million!)
- D. Originally, the challenger was always famous German entertainment personality Stefan Raab.
To start, viewers first vote on which one of the five potential contestants will actually get to play. The challenges vary widely: it might be trivia, it might be driving, it might be a mind puzzle, it might even be sports! Each match can go up to 15 rounds, with each round worth one point more than the last (but then again, the first round is only worth 1 point; you can probably infer what each round is worth, points-wise), the first to reach 61 points wins. If Raab wins, 500,000 is added to a Progressive Jackpot for next time.
There have been some international versions, but they are largely scaled down (i.e. not live, not five hours long, lower stakes, and using various celebrities as opponents): the Australian and British versions were known as "Beat the Star".
The celebrity version of the format was also used in Germany as Schlag den Star; this version was intended as a lower-stakes Spin-Off aired over the summer months when Schlag den Raab was on hiatus. Following the series finale of the Raab version in 2015 as part of his retirement from TV, Schlag den Star was upgraded into a live show to serve as its replacement. In 2017, Steffen Henssler was named as the full-time successor to Raab, but he left in 2018, with ProSieben making Schlag den Star the permanent replacement. At first, Schlag den Star pitted different German celebrities against members of the public. It was also taped, unlike its parent show, which was live, and fitted into a two-hour time slot. Nowadays, the show is done live, and pits German celebrities against one another, with the winner of each show getting 100,000.
One constant element of the live shows is having multiple musical guests per show (except for a couple of episodes in 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic). Some big names have performed on the show, such as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Bryan Adams.
This series provides examples of:
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Half a million Euros was the minimum prize.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Raab teamed up with German band the Heavytones to create the show's theme, which has been retained long after his retirement from television.
- Down to the Last Play: The 1-2-3...-15 scoring system is biased to create this. If played, Game 15 is generally of a showdown-y nature (eg: penalty shootout, 15-ball pool, putt-off).
- Grand Finale: The series finale aired in December 2015, with a slightly different format. Instead of Raab playing against 1 person, Raab played against 15, with each win awarding 100,000 from the final 1.5 million jackpot. The rest was given to the winner of a final game played against the winners.
- Golden Snitch: It takes a minimum of 11 rounds to win. Since that adds up to 66 points (and winning the first 10 games would only get you to 55 points), anything beyond Round 10 can easily be considered a Golden Snitch. Though, Raab has delivered 66-0 shutouts before.
- Long-Runners: Can apply to the fact that the Schlag den... franchise has been around since 2006, and the fact that the live shows literally take all night to finish.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The show has featured many mundane activities as head to head games, including screwing in lightbulbs, pricing cans of food with a price gun, and hammering nails into wood.
- Progressive Jackpot: Increases by 500,000 every time it isn't won. The biggest jackpot in the show's history was 3.5 million euros.
- Though, this isn't by far the biggest prize ever given away on a European game show: in 2001, someone on Miljoenenjacht (a game show run in conjunction with the Netherlands' postcode lottery) managed to win 10,000,000 (which is about 4.53 million). Of course, these winnings were taxable, and this victory pre-dated both the official introduction of the Euro, and the show's current endgame (better known as Deal or No Deal).
- As Germany does not tax game show winnings, the 3.5m is the highest prize after tax.
- Serious Business: For any actual sport played on the show, an accredited official of that sport is brought in to enforce the rules. They also dress like they would for a match in their sport (for example, a football referee dresses as they would for a Bundesliga match: a shirt and shorts that are the same color).
- Solemn Ending Theme: The show has used Whitney Houston's power ballad "One Moment in Time" - written for the 1988 Summer Olympics - as its closing song ever since it premiered.
- Spin-Off: In Germany, a lower-stakes version was also produced known as Schlag den Star, which is closer to the international versions (though, Raab was available as a Lifeline too.) The spin-off became the main program when Raab retired.
- The Determinator: Raab really does not want to lose, even if it is "just a silly game" - this is what the show runs on. And despite him being in his late 40s for most of the show's run, he swept the floor with competitors half his age and even managed to win all games twice.