Follow TV Tropes


Series / Three on a Match

Go To
"It's Three on a Match, with your host, Bill Cullen!"

Bob Stewart-produced Game Show hosted by Bill Cullen that ran from 1971-74 on NBC, in which three contestants attempted to answer true/false questions, in turn earning money which they could use to uncover boxes on a board and match them up.

To do so, each contestant secretly bid on how many questions they could answer (from 1-4) in one of three shown categories (the third would often be a grab bag category like "The Mixed Quiz" as opposed to a subject). The contestant with the highest number - or, if two contestants tied for the high number, the contestant with lowest bid - won the right to choose a category and play for $10 times the total number of questions bidded (1-2-3 would be worth $60, for example).

Upon winning at least $90 (or $50 with one of the "Free Box" bonuses), the contestant could spend the money on boxes on the giant 4x3 gameboard, calling out a dollar amount ($20, $30, or $40) and a color (Red, Green, Yellow, or Blue): e.g., "$40 on the Blue". A prize was hidden behind each box, and to win a prize a contestant had to find it in the $20, $30, and $40 columns. Upon doing so, that contestant won the game and played against two new challengers. (A column was "closed" if three of its four boxes were chosen.)


On April 23, 1973, the prizes were removed from the board and replaced with pictures relating to a certain "theme" (movie monsters, actors, animals, etc.). Further, the game was amended to keep three contestants on until one scored three matches (tracked by placards on each podium), which awarded a prize package worth about $5,000. While the trips were lavish enough and other prizes were definitely desirable, they were downplayed as gameplay and Cullen's affable hosting style were emphasized.

Still, despite lasting far longer than any previous show had at the 1:30 PM slot vacated by Let's Make a Deal in December 1968, getting some affiliates to stop pre-empting the slot, and giving away much more with the format update, TOAM consistently ranked a solid third behind ABC's Deal and CBS' As the World Turns in the east (in the Pacific timezone, where it aired at Noon, against ABC's Password and local programming on CBS). Even so, neither its ratings nor its competition are what ultimately did the show in - see Screwed by the Network, under the Trivia tab.


Not to be confused with 1932 movie Three on a Match.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: The Big Match, used during the second format, where the day's contestants would try to match two halves of a $1,000 bill to win just that - $1,000 (plus $1,000 for every three shows it wasn't claimed).
  • Bonus Space:
    • One/Two/Three Free Box(es) - gave bonus picks if the contestant won the pot and went to the board right then. The money was spent first, followed by the free boxes.
    • Double Pot - multiplied the bids by $20 instead of $10, for a possible maximum of $220.
    • Instant Match - if a contestant's very first three picks of a game matched, it ended the game immediately and awarded either that prize and a new car (1971-73) or simply the $5,000 prize package (1973-74).
    • During the second format, any contestant who managed to make seven consecutive matches won a new car and $5,000 cash.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: Five matches during the first format, seven $5,000 prize packages during the second format.
  • Home Game: Milton Bradley made one in 1972.
  • Personnel:
  • Whammy: The occasional "No Match" square, which did nothing but waste the amount spent on that box (or a free pick, depending on the circumstances).

This show provides examples of:

  • Catchphrase:
  • The Cameo: Geoff Edwards appeared on February 11, 1974 to promote Jackpot, and tested Bill with a few Super Jackpot riddles. Jackpot! had only aired for a month at this point, and probably hadn't even debuted yet when this episode was taped.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Larry Blyden guest-hosted the show circa 1973, and was introduced as "the host of What's My Line?" Due to syndication practices of the era, however, some markets were still watching Line hosted by Wally Bruner.
  • Fan Remake: Greg "Greggo" Wicker did an anime-themed version at anime conventions, using a combination of formats (matching pictures, with one match needed to win the game; about three games were played per show). At the end of an early episode, at Ikkicon 2012:
    Greggo: Audience, what didja think of this 45-year-old game show?
    (audience goes nuts)
  • Once an Episode: Bill's knock on the wall behind him after his introduction. During the second format, the Big Match as well.
  • Opening Narration:
    • 1971-73 (first format): "[Contestants], if your first three picks match you win that prize plus a [year and model of car], on Three On A Match!"
    • Another opening had "This is our current champion, (name of contestant). His/her challengers are (name) and (name). They're competing for a (year) car plus these prizes (shown on board). It's Three On A Match!"
    • 1973-74 (second format): "[Contestants], if your first three picks match you win the game instantly and at least $5,000 in cash and prizes! It's Three On A Match!"
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Australia got a lower-stakes version produced by Reg Grundy and hosted by Bob Moore, which aired for a period in 1973.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: