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Series / Wipeout (2008)

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The epic competition begins now to see who will emerge victorious, and who will wipeout.

"It's that time, America. What goes up must wipeout."
First opening

"Tonight, twenty-four Americans lay it all on the line. Their whole lives have been leading to this one moment of glory."
(insert one of the contestant's funny shouts from the top of the Qualifier)
"...Yeah, let's hope they have a Plan B."
Current opening

Wipeout is an American Game Show on the American Broadcasting Company in which 24 contestants compete in a series of events seemingly designed to humiliate and otherwise annoy them. The last contestant standing wins $50,000. Inspired by crazy Japanese stunt game shows like Takeshi's Castle (although older viewers may also find it not dissimilar to Jeux sans frontières).

A British version, titled Total Wipeout and hosted by Richard Hammond and Amanda Byram, was produced by The BBC and ran for 5 series and one Christmas themed series titled Winter Wipeout. The original American version also aired in the UK under the title Total Wipeout USA.

Not to be confused with the 1988-89 game show of the same name; there was also a UK version that ran for much longer than the US version (which is why the UK version had Total added to the name). Or the futuristic racing game series; seemingly, this Wipeout also has several video games of its own.

Wipeout was silently cancelled after the 2014 season; although there was a casting call for an apparent Spin-Off titled Wipeout Extreme seeking people with interest in "crossfit, parkour, iron competitions, triathlons, [and] Spartan races", the show never entered production. The show currently airs on truTV as part of their late-night lineup; its sister channel TBS later announced that it was reviving the series, and named John Cena as host on September 10, 2020. The rebooted Wipeout debuted on April 1, 2021.

Wipeout provides examples of:

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  • Action Mom: Many of the contestants on the show are mothers, including one who referred to herself with the trope's name, and at least three winners (one of whom while teamed up with her son).
  • All There in the Manual: Averted on air during a Winter Family edition. If one family finishes and the others quit on the penultimate round, the family that finished is guaranteed half the prize money right then and there, and must compete in the Wipeout Zone against the team that quit last for the rest of the cash. Considering its ending, it ended up being irrelevant: the one family that didn't quit won the whole cash anyway.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Some of the obstacles slow down the longer it takes contestants to cross them, making the obstacle easier. Particularly noted for Season 3's Spin Cycle.
    • Justified with the Spin Cycle. It wasn't designed to create funny wipeouts. Its purpose was to disorient the contestant inside it, and it worked.
    • Also apparent with the Coin Flip obstacle, where the rotating coins change direction after the contestant wipes out.
    • The general rule of thumb seems to be that if a contestant must finish the obstacle or the contestant quitting over it would take away from the element of competition (both true in the Wipeout Zone, where most of these features are found), then some form of anti-frustration will be built in. Pure elimination rounds or obstacles where the contestant can keep going even after wiping out… no such protections are afforded (such as the Qualifier Round, for instance).
    • As of the new season, contestants move on to the next obstacle in the Zone following a wipeout, adding in a Tournament of Champions finale episode to make up for the lost wipeouts. Justified in that the Zone is Nintendo Hard now.
  • Animal Reaction Shot: Occasional shots of wildlife near the set are used either in comedy bits or otherwise.
  • "Balls" Gag: The Big Balls and any other obstacle that involved balls were pretty much a license to do these. In fact, a quip from Anderson was the Trope Namer.
  • Brains Versus Brawn: Season 6, episode 6 titled "Brains vs Brawn" pits contestants with "brainy" jobs against professional body builders and other highly athletic types.
  • Bond Gun Barrel: Henson attempted this when a Bond Girl wannabe came on the show. He had trouble keeping the gun focused on her.
    "Is this like a screensaver or can I control it?"
  • Book Ends: Aside from the obstacles and the need to restart, the Qualifer and Wipeout Zone are fairly identical: each player goes one at a time, tries to get past a series of obstacles in order to reach the finish spot, and tries to get the best time amongst them.
    • The key difference between the two is that you only have to attempt each obstacle in the Qualifier. If you fail, you simply need to swim or otherwise slowly advance to the next obstacle. In the Zone, if you don't make it to the end of an obstacle, you need to swim back and try again. Only the really tough obstacles can be skipped after wiping out, and with a large time penalty for doing so.
  • Camera Abuse: Happens more often in the most recent season; when players are finishing the second elimination game, there's a camera perfectly positioned at the end of the platform after a long slide, so most contestants that overshoot the platform end up crashing into the camera on the way past.
  • Camp Gay: "Fierce Dragon" Eddie Moton Jr.
  • Carried by the Host: The commentary of and banter between the Johns and Jill/Vanessa is part of what makes the show enjoyable.
    John H.: If I fall down... I want you to commentate on it!
    John A.: I'm touched... and sort of can't wait. [smirk]
  • Catchphrase:
  • Censor Box: Through no fault of the show, this usually has to be deployed (with gag) when a contestant decides that shorts are a good idea to wear (men and women alike). Considering how often it happens, you'd think people would start to realize to wear something more conducive to getting slimed and thrown around without ending up, uh… hanging out there.
    • Also done with Censored for Comedy whenever a particularly frustrated contestant lets loose with the cussing.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The Wipeout Zone ramps up the suspense. It takes place at night, the music is more dramatic, and the Johns are considerably less snarky than they are for the rest of the show. Oh, and there's fire everywhere in the background.
  • Cherry Tapping: Many challenges feature added distractions in the form of water being sprayed at the contestants or various objects being thrown at them. With balance being as much of an issue as it oftentimes is, sometimes just the lightest hit can knock a person into the water. Best exemplified in one episode where a contestant was knocked into the water by a thrown hot dog.
    • On the other hand, some of the newer obstacles are designed specifically with cherry tapping in mind. It's never ever the big obvious hazard that's going to pummel you and the obstacle never ever will work the way it seems to be set up to be. Those are all distractions so they can smack you with something smaller that will throw you in the water.
    • Season 5 Winter Wipeout seems to have "speed and motion" as the general theme, with a lot of obstacles that move or require some element of speed to complete successfully. Which makes the occasional obstacle that doesn't seem like a nice respite… except making you stop is what they want you to do, because it puts you in position long enough for a hidden obstacle to smack you into the water.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander/Large Ham: Frank "Freak of Nature" Beasley. Though often many of the less-successful contestants are equally as hammy.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Half the fun of the show is seeing people get beat up by giant waterproof beanbags and fall into mud. The other half is a dedication to the power of the human spirit… to endure wipeouts that make you think someone should have died on that one (or at least Rage Quit to escape the pain).
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: If the spiked whackers are the first obstacle on the Gauntlet, the first time the contestant gets there, it will always wait until the contestant actually tries to cross before the first wall pops out. Every. Time. Except for the one time when the first wall would intentionally miss the contestant… and then it's the second wall that nails them as soon as they try to cross it.
    • This was lampshaded by contestant "The Wiggler" James Runcorn. "This is gonna hit me, isn't it?" When it knocks him back into the water, he shouted "I Knew It!!"
    • Also done by the Door Knock obstacle, which uses three mystery doors. While the contestants were told to just pick a door and see what happens, nobody told them that all three doors would have a giant pendulum hammer activated right when they open it — however, this has been conquered by, among others, the aforementioned Frank Beasley, who was able to move to the side upon seeing the hammer. The ironic thing is that that obstacle was designed to prevent "ding-dong ditching". Other contestants have survived the Door Knock by absorbing the hit, somehow staying on that tiny beam.
    • In recent seasons, the Qualifier obstacles run on this, including the Smackwall Sweeper, the Fence Flapper, Drivers' Ed (which replaced the Sucker Punch of all things), and the Snowman Surprise. The creator even admitted that the Fence Flapper was near impossible.
  • Covered in Gunge: Or maybe just Covered in Mud.
  • Covered in Mud: Sometimes there'll be mud instead of water under the obstacles for the contestants to land in. So not only do they suffer an embarrassing fall, but they also have to be coated in mud. Some newer obstacles are covered in foam or slime… though only partially to cover the contestant in foam or slime. The other reason is… well, see Cherry Tapping.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts/My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever/Victory by Endurance: Most obstacles aren't that hard on their own, especially ones like the Sweeeper that only involve having to jump over a rotating bar without falling off the platform. What makes them so grueling is that people will eventually become exhausted after several minutes of tensing themselves and jumping in place. At a certain point, their reaction time is going to delay enough to eventually get hit.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Rico Andino, whose mustache resembles that of a Dastardly Whiplash, got an 'old-timey villain' nickname, and had the qualifier run in grayscale and played like an old-time movie. The black-and-white theme carried over to his contestant portrait.
  • Determinator: "Fierce Dragon" Eddie Moton Jr. refused to allow anything, even being over the time limit, to stop him from finishing the Wipeout Zone.
    • "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" Deborah Blackwell practically defines this trope.
  • Dissimile: "[The Spring Fling] is like getting on a horse in mid-air ten feet above the ground!"
  • Dynamic Difficulty: In the Wipeout Zone, it appears that the longer you spend on an obstacle, the slower it becomes.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first season, the obstacles are much less elaborate and the commentary from the Johns is much more sparse and straightforward than it would become in later seasons.
  • Epic Fail:
    • In one second-season episode, a contestant reached the very first corner of the qualifier, slipped and fell, and promptly yelled "I'm done!" She lasted less than ten seconds.
    • There was also a woman who ran past each obstacle in the Qualifier in one episode. Despite the fact that she was immediately disqualified, she continued running, shrieking in terror the entire time.
    • In a family episode, on the third round, one pair quit, leaving one pair done and another with one done and the other still on the course. Despite being guaranteed a spot, the one still on the course quit, automatically awarding the finished pair half the prize money. They then went to the Wipeout Zone to figure out who got the other half, where she ended up wasting the six minutes she had trying and failing to make it onto the Psychedelic Snowflake.
    • Ariel Tweto became infamous on the show for not seeing a pole that was directly in front of her. After a few seconds of trying, she just ran past the pole and jumped into the water. When asked why she did it, Ariel said she thought the pole was supposed to be yellow.
    • Chris Kinyon's disatrous performance on the Wrecking Ball Dreadmill, only lasting a short twenty-one seconds. Fortunately, he redeemed himself a year later by winning the All Star episode.
    • During a family edition of Wipeout, Marie Juarez took over twenty minutes to complete the Wipeout Zone. Granted while that's bad on it's own, both of the competing family members finished in less than five and ten minutes respectively, meaning that her own father couldn't even compete!
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Several of the obstacles, including the trademark Big Balls (which are giant rubber red balls).
  • Face Plant: It's nearly impossible to get through a single round without at least one contestant falling victim to this.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Where's the pole?
    • Which came after she became the first contestant to successfully cross the Big Balls without wiping out. In her defense, she claims she thought the pole would be yellow.
  • Five-Man Band: You watch enough of the third season of Wipeout, you realize that the then-current on-air crew actually fits this quite well (though the "ranking" may be shuffled around)…
    • The Smart Guy: John Anderson, the sensible third of the show's speaking-role three protagonists. Generally considered serious and uptight, though he's not above making Incredibly Lame Puns when a good wipeout happens.
    • The Lancer: John Henson, the constantly jokey third of the show's speaking-role trio. The color commentator (being a comedian, after all) of the show, who will take any opportunity to deliver a Hurricane of Puns, which makes him and Anderson's interactions with each other basically an extended Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
    • The Heart: Jill Wagner, the interviewer third of the show's speaking-role three characters. You may recognize her from those Mercury car commercials and her role in Blade: The Series. These three are joined by...
    • The Big Guy (sort of): Kenny Shackleford, a member of Wipeout's "Black-and-Blue Crew", a group of current and former Marines who test-run the obstacles before the contestants go. Kenny also plays the Referee during the Bruiseball 3rd game and is one of the two people throwing stuff at contestants during either the "Jump over the spinning bar on the rotating platform" 3rd game or the "Go around all 4 stations without falling in the water" 3rd game. He's joined by…
    • Cute Bruiser (again, sort of): Megan Stiner, another member of the "Black-and-Blue Crew", who bears a more than passing resemblance to Playboy model Summer Altice.
  • Flanderization: When you make it to Round 2, one thing said during your interview will be the basis for all of the commentators' jokes about you.
  • Fun with Subtitles:
    • "Due to hard economic times we don't have the money to buy the rights to this song, but let's just say her FOOT... is LOOSE.... :)"
    • The stick figures used to demonstrate each course as well as to telestrate various contestants' wipeouts may also count, as they're all unique.

  • Game Show Host: Two of them: John Anderson and John Henson, although their role is closer to that of a commentator. (Unsurprisingly, Anderson's day job is Sports Center anchor and John Henson was a former Talk Soup host.)
  • Game Show Physical Challenge: Wipeout is a comedic game show where the contestants try to complete various tricky obstacle courses, often failing and spectacularly falling into the water (or worse liquids) below.
  • Genre Blind: Some of the contestants seem this way. "Hey, how come there's mud on one of several wall panels that might pop out and smack me into the mud puddle below? Probably a coincidence."
  • Genre Savvy: Some contestants, like Frank Beasley, are smart enough to see if something is a trap instead of charging straight in.
  • The Ghost: With Vanessa, the hosts often mention her husband Nick.
  • Golden Snitch: Rankings in any given round have no effect on the next round, though you won't see the next round if you don't place high enough. Also, in the Wipeout Zone final round, the Gauntlet (when it appears) is often the match-decider, as it is a series of obstacles, often with a particularly hard one last, and wiping out anywhere on it forces you to start the entire set from the beginning. Appropriately enough, this trope comes up by name when a Harry Potter-themed contestant appears.
  • Groin Attack: Some of the punches on the Sucker Punch are designed to give low-blows, and many other obstacles have the potential to do this too. And in this case, it's not just males who suffer the pain.
    • Jacob "Crunch Time" Mann had it twice in the Qualifier — the first from the aforementioned Sucker Punch, and the second from doing the splits on the Big Balls.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In one episode, two contestants are sharing a platform waiting for a hanging platform to come around. One offers the other the opportunity to jump on the platform... when there's exactly one spot left available for advancement. Henson immediately chimes in with "...and that's probably the stupidest sacrifice he'll ever make."
  • Home Game: There are video game versions on the Kinect, Wii, and DS. Don't get those confused with the sci-fi racing game series of the same name.
  • Hopeless Auditionees: Zig-Zagged. In the first round, everyone is made to look like Hopeless Auditionees, since it is almost impossible to complete without wiping out multiple times. The contestants who make it past the initial rounds make it because they're actually capable of passing the courses in a reasonable time, and are given proper recognition for their accomplishments. The best of those are then put through the second round where skill, balance, and stamina are actually tested. However, at the end of every episode, there is a montage of the most spectacular failures and hilariously bad falls (not in a mocking manner, but because it's genuinely funny).
  • Hurricane of Puns: Trademark of the hosts.
  • Hypocritical Humor: One joke in a recent episode was John asking John Anderson if he's into sports. John replies he's not really a sports guy at all. John Anderson is one of the major anchors on Sports Center.
  • I Have Many Names/Prop Recycling: In some cases, a single obstacle may be used in several different episodes, but with different livery each time:
    • A walking spinner with a $1,000 bonus item was used as "Unclaimed Baggage", the "Sleepytime Spinner", and the "American Revolution."
    • Similarly, in the same season, we had the One Ring Circus, which was re-done in medieval and pirate themes, too, among other things.
    • It goes without saying that the Big Balls have been around since the first season. Aside from minor adjustments to make them safer, they haven't changed at all.
    • Many of the props that appear in a season of Wipeout will reappear on the next year's season of Total Wipeout, the UK variant.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Henson's specialty, with Anderson calling him out on the lamest of ones.
    • Jill gets one in (crossing over with a Take That!) when talking to a contestant that's into building things and tools. "You know what my favorite tool is? David Hasselhoff."
  • Innocent Innuendo: Occasionally or at least, they try to make it seem that way. One particular example comes from "Blind Date 2012" where a Buddhist contestant and their blind date kept talking about opening/showing the third eye. While he was being genuine about it, the fact that it's a blind date themed episode instigated plenty of Reaction Shots from Vanessa.
  • Jumping the Shark: Parodied In-Universe as a Visual Pun for a Sweeper variant… which literally involves jumping over a shark.
  • The Load: Saved for team-based episodes, there will often be teams where one member is easily stronger than the other, and the other is the obvious weak-link. In fact, there have been instances where those teams lost due to that weak-link failing to qualify in the second or third round while the other member made it first.
  • Lovely Assistant: Jill Wagner, who ironically plays more of a host role than either of the Johns. She replaces her replacement, Vanessa Lachey, for the 2013 season.
  • Mercy Mode: In the final round of Wipeout, if a contestant is struggling or wipes out at the same obstacle several times, the obstacle is gradually made easier, such as a spinner spinning slower, so that the contestant can get past the roadblock. However, this can work against them if the contestant has to ride the obstacle to the other side, since they will lose more time if the machine is going slow. However, if the contestant reaches mercy mode to begin with, they most likely had already wasted enough time to begin with.
  • Mood Whiplash: Crosses over with Shoo Out the Clowns, the final round, even down to the theme song they use, is many times more professional and serious than the overall mood of the first three rounds.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The Shapeshifter is something like this. How the hosts describe the obstacle, it sounds like you have to jump through one of the shapes onto the final platform (via trampoline, swingset, zipline, slide, or the like)...except that, if you imagine that the Shapeshifter itself wasn't there, that jump is way too far for a human to reach. A grand total of three contestants have crossed it so far...two of them by landing in one of the shapes and riding it around until they could jump out, and the third by pushing against the contraption once through the hole to give himself the extra force needed to get through.
    • There are those moments of disbelief. In September 2010, Rico "Rolling Thunder" Curtis actually horizontally dived through the hole and landed on the platform with a tummy slide.
  • The Nicknamer: Just about any contestant who makes it past qualification will get some sort of wacky nickname from the hosts. It's a way of making the contestants memorable, and to set up jokes based on the nicknames.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: John referred to Frank Beasly as a Heavy Metal Ninja.
  • Nintendo Hard: Some of the obstacles are very difficult to pass, especially in the Qualifier, since contestants don't have to repeat them. Probably the best example is the Sucker Punch with spray paint.
    • It's probably not a coincidence that Forrest's record-setting run mentioned above was done on one of the few episodes that did not include the Sucker Punch, and even if it had, it would have been the Season 2 Sucker Punch, the version that people have been able to get through.
    • The real winner of the Nintendo Hard award has to go to the Fling Set and all its variations. In the nine episodes it has appeared in, it has been crossed a grand total of zero times.
    • Taken to another level in the fifth episode of Winter Wipeout. The six-person qualifier introduced in this episode includes the Crankshaft (now with moving platform) and a vertically-rotating platform… as the first two obstacles.
    • A Wipeout Zone obstacle called the Spinner featured in early episodes and was basically a cone with a flat top that rotated quickly. It was extremely hard to stay on, let alone dismount, and the obstacle only became realistically difficult when it slowed down after several failed attempts. Sadly, it got shipped over for the show’s international versions.
    • While not difficult in and of itself, several Wipeout Zones that included foam in the water have visibly drained the energy of contestants compared to the non-foam ones.
    • Inverted with a new 2nd round (of 4) challenge in the first episode of spring 2011. Jill lampshades the lack of difficulty by complaining that no one's wiped out several minutes in.
      • She actually had missed the one wipeout that occurred.
    • And lampshaded by the Johns when a contestant wipes out… while climbing a ladder to an obstacle platform.
  • Nominal Importance: Each episode, there are a few contestants who make it past the qualifier without getting a nickname. Guess what their chances are of surviving Round 2. Lampshaded a few times:
    John Henson: Who's it gonna be? Smelly's Boyfriend, or the contestant we've never met before... It's Smelly's Boyfriend!
    • Also:
      "So who's that [that just got knocked out of a round]?"
      "Don't know, don't care."
      "Who-who is that?"
      "I told you I don't care!"
      (even later)
      "And who was that fellow?"
      "What is it with you and names, John?"
    • And:
      "Is that the guy in purple?"
      "Yeah, but if he did better, we'd have given him a better name."
    • As of the later 2012 episodes, this seems to be averted as practically everyone that gets past the qualifier gets a nickname. Whether this is due to the show trying to create more suspense to the eventual winners or whether contestants are simply acting out to get screen time, who can say. Though it does give the show a lot more opportunity to make gags.
  • One-Liner: Vanessa distinguishes herself from Jill with a bit more spontaneous one liners and overly expressive reactions; particularly evident during the Qualifer Round.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, as both of the hosts are named John.
    • But no contestant gets the same nickname as another. Unless, of course, they're twins.
  • Painting the Medium: One of the contestants on the UK version was a self-admitted gamer, who was nicknamed “Game Over” and given three lives instead of a timer, with him losing one every time he fell off an obstacle. He didn’t make it past the first round.
  • Platform Hell: Most of the show could qualify as this, but the Qualifier courses in Seasons 3 and 4 began a trend of having at least one obstacle which is guaranteed to cause a wipeout or two (i.e. the Fence Flapper, the airbag on Drivers' Ed, etc.)
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: A mild example. The humor comes mostly from slapstick and all the contestants know perfectly well that they're in for some pratfalls, so while the laughs are on them, it's quite good-natured.
  • The Pratfall: Basically the whole point.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the very first episode of the UK version, a contestant can be heard cursing as he falls off the Sweeper. The editors and producers apparently didn't hear it, as it is completely uncensored.
    • Similarly, in the series 2 finale, somebody reacts to another contestant getting whacked hard by the Sweeper with the same word, and the censors forgot to mute it.
  • Product Placement: Two episodes in Season 4 contained promotions for the Home Game for Xbox 360/Kinect. The more prominent example came in "Does This Avatar Make Me Look Fat?": there was the Nintendo Hard "Wipeout Video Game Spinner" obstacle (a very fast turntable, with 4 rectanglar blocks with Xbox 360 avatars of the hosts and Jill on them, and a bunch of danglers), and Activision also sponsored a $25,000 bonus for the top time in that day's qualifier.
    • Don't forget the Qualifier that featured Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs at the end!
    • The Canadian version added sponsors to some obstacles. Motrin sponsored The Sweeper (causing the obstacle to be renamed “The Motrin Spinner”) and SpongeTowels sponsored the Wipeout Zone (including a blatantly modified “spinner” that resembles their signature paper towels). While not technically “product placement”, Carstar sponsored a short segment where the hosts would show the best fail (in their opinion) during The Qualifier.
  • Puzzle Boss: The Crankshaft and The Arms and Dangerous are hard to complete just by rushing it through. Contestants must find their pattern to get across.
    • In spite of first impressions, a similar principle is true for most of the Qualifier's obstacles. Very few contestants have managed to deduce that "dash like a maniac" is a subpar strategy, though.
      • Admittedly, the rules eventually did forbid unusual strategies, like hanging on to a sweeper and riding it around. Intentionally pushing contestants off an obstacle is also forbidden, and intentionally failing in a way that minimizes time loss (doing a running leap into the mud) warrants a time penalty.
    • The Spin Cycle, which contestants can get stuck in for a long time trying to figure out how to get out of (usually involving riding the cycle around the top, instead of trying to run against it along the bottom).
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: An astoundingly large number of the contestants are horribly out of shape, and an even more astoundingly large number of contestants have no idea how to get past the obstacles, especially in the Qualifier (which is Nintendo Hard enough without taking contestant incompetence into account!) Though, this makes the ones who can figure out a way past the tougher obstacles and then pull it off especially impressive (such as the girl who got through the Big Balls by leaping onto each one belly-first and clinging on for dear life until she was stable before getting up and leaping to the next one).
    • Lampshaded by the Johns in a recent episode. "No matter how many times contestants watch the show, they all start the day thinking they'll do great!"
    • At least one person who was out-of-shape later said on Reddit or Tumblr that they were Genre Savvy enough to know they couldn't win, but they just wanted to complete the qualifier to say "I completed the qualifier". A few people try their absolute hardest just to complete it, not even caring about their time.
  • Recycled In Space: Many of the obstacles from season to season, usually by adding paint spraying (the Sucker Punch), foam (too many obstacles to name, but especially the Spin Cycle in the Wipeout Zone), and/or water cannons (the Overdrive and Double Cross). Then there's those obstacles whose upgrades just seem silly, like when the Sweeper Bar from the first episode got largely superficial changes as the first season progressed (like "foam rubber teeth" to become the Sweeper Toothbrush (which Henson called the Spikes of Doom in an awesome voice), or adding a MOBILE MADE OF CROWS). However, the silliness of the "upgrades" is probably intentional, given the nature of the show.
    • Other obstacles get moved from phase to phase in addition to modifiers. Crankshaft, always good for a wipeout or three, started off in the Wipeout Zone, got moved to a third phase qualifier with moving platform, and then by 2011, is now a second phase qualifier where the Crankshaft has a more unique shape (crooked instead of straight) and has been put on an axle arm that spins.
  • Running Gag:
    • People missing the floating platform at the start of the Qualifier, with one of the Johns usually reminding us that it's not technically an obstacle.
    • The hosts tend to stick to one running gag per contestant and run with it for the whole show.
  • Second-Person Attack: They use what's called the Smash Cam. This is intended to show how the contestant fell from their own point of view (or at least the point of view of their lifejacket).
  • Second Place Is for Losers: "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" Deborah Blackwell. She finished second in both a season 3 episode, and again in the second All-Stars episode.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The commentary for the final challenge is noticeably more dramatic and less snarky than in any other round.
  • Shout-Out: Common procedure by the Johns. What isn't tends to be puns, jokes, or references based off the contestant.
    • When a contestant that happens to be a geologist wins the game, Henson says "If you smell what the rock star is cooking?", a reference to WWE wrestler, the Rock.
    • A mention is made for an air traffic controller about Oceania airplanes, i.e. the stock airline used in pretty much every movie made. In the same episode, when the contestant splashes down onto another in Double Cross, one of the Johns wonders where Captain Sully is, the airline pilot who did a waterlanding.
    • In something of a Double Subversion, one girl, a professed Anime fan, referred to herself as Mikachu. At first, the hosts seem confused as to what the name refers to, which makes one think they're unaware of (or trying to avoid) the reference… and then in the third round, one of the Johns randomly throws out a Jigglypuff reference.
    • The first episode of spring 2011 has a blink-and-you-miss-it Shout-Out to Bert and Ernie.
    • In "John Henson, Zombie Hunter", John puts out the classic "I'm here to kick butt and chew bubblegum and I'm all out of bubblegum."
    • In the "Boss and Employee" episode, when the employee of the "Robot Duo" wipes out on the Big Balls, Henson mentions he's playing a game of Robot Chicken.
    • One video-game obsessed contestant's wipeout earned a mention of the Konami Code.
    • A Winter Wipeout episode has the Johns paying tribute to the "Crazy Obstacle Inventor Guy" in the style of Budweiser's "Real Men of Genius" ads.
    • The show itself got a few Shout Outs in an episode of Raising Hope.
  • Slapstick: Doesn't matter if you're male or female. This show and these challenges will rough you up and set it all to silly sound effects.
  • Slippery Skid: The whole show runs on this.
  • Soft Water: When contestants are launched into the Wipeout Zone, air bubbles are pumped into their expected landing spot to cushion their landing. Every other time, though, this trope is thoroughly averted, with some contestants having to quit after landing too hard in the water.
  • Spectacular Spinning: The Spin Cycle, the Dizzy Dummy, the various other spinners that have appeared in every season so far…
    • Also, depending on how the obstacles smack them around, the contestants can go into some pretty crazy spins themselves.
    • The Spinner from early seasons: a cone that rotates quickly.
    • Those metal bases on the Big Balls seem almost impossible to reach, yet…
      • There was actually an early episode where a contestant managed to get stuck in the frame holding up a Big Ball. After that, they gave the frame a cover to prevent it from happening again.
    • Justified since the spinning is intended to hinder the contestants.
    • In the Spring 2011 Wipeout Zone, every obstacle spins (two vertically, one horizontally and requiring timing). Contrast this to previous zones where it was usually just one or two and usually just hazards rather than the obstacle itself. Unfortunately for the viewers, this new course seems to be quite a bit easier, since the contestants take 4 to 7 minutes to complete the course, which is several minutes faster than even the fastest times of previous courses.
  • The Stinger: After the credits, there's usually a funny scene with Jill and a contestant, usually a non-nicknamed one. Occasionally goes into Brick Joke territory. Other times, it's simply a Noodle Incident or Jill veering into Cloudcuckoolander territory.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: John Henson and John Anderson; in later seasons, they interact more with each other as a comedy antic duo while keeping Rapid-Fire Comedy commentary.
  • Sublime Rhyme:
    • "Enter on green, exit on red. Don't let the sweeper arms go over your head." (Overdrive)
    • Another overdrive one is "Enter on red, exit on green, don't let the sweeper bar nail you in-between".
    • "If you hesitate, we motivate." (Motivator)
  • Super Bowl Special: In 2009, a football-themed episode known as the Wipeout Bowl aired on the night of the Super Bowl, with a segment at 8:00 p.m. (intending to go against the halftime show), followed by a full episode later in the night.
  • Take That!:
    • After the first Shark Jump obstacle, John notes that someone should do a whole week's worth of shark-related shows. Other John dismisses the idea as something that will never work.
    • There was also a Twilight fan on, the two Johns comment that real vampires don't sparkle. Or even exist. But don't tell them that, they have good hearing.
  • That Came Out Wrong: "Which makes us a couple of Johns out looking for a good time."
  • Theme Pairing: The episode "Winners and Losers" features an In-Universe platonic version. It presented some winner/loser pairs with a similar theme that had been given to them in previous episodes.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Occasionally said verbatim when a contestant is about to attempt an obstacle.
  • Those Two Guys: John Henson and John Anderson.
  • Title Drop: The show's opening monologue closes with the line "One will become a champion, but all will wipeout."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Well, more like "too dumb to make it to the next round," but some contestants do some stupid things, like fixing their hair and/or inspecting their fingernails during the qualifier.
  • Too Many Halves: One contestant nicknamed himself Chanimal. He described himself as half man, half Chan, half animal. He further compounds the math mistake by saying 200 percent Chanimal.
  • Trans Pacific Equivalent: The show is similar enough to Takeshi's Castle that the Tokyo Broadcasting System is suing ABC over copyright infringement.
    • Of course, the Johns don't seem worried about this, as Henson tosses out a "Let's get it on!" plus hand gesture combo as seen on the MXC version of the show.
    • The BBC shows a UK version, hosted by Richard Hammond of Top Gear and later The Grand Tour fame.

"This is your announcer saying good night — and big balls."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Wipeout 2009


Where's the pole?

Ariel Tweto failed to see the huge pole in front of her. And that was after she passed the Big Balls.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / FailedASpotCheck

Media sources: