- Awesome Music: Both classic themes. Ken Aldin's "Tuning Up" was used from $10,000 to $50,000; this replaced it and was used until New $100,000. The Pyramid utilized a nice-sounding salsa-type "dance" remix of the 1982 theme, while Strahan's $100,000 Pyramid features a jazzy version that mixes in elements of "Tuning Up".
- Breather Level:
- Any Winner's Circle box in the format "Why you ____" or "What ____ Might Say", because these allowed for more elaborate but still legal clues.
- In the front game, clues that actually encourage gestures over verbal clues ("Things You Can Do With One Hand": point, salute, snap, etc.).
- Broken Base: Fandom opinion is divided over whether Mike Richards' The Pyramid is worth watching. Some feel it's a breath of fresh air compared to Donnymid, while others aren't comfortable with Richards hosting or the removal of the bonuses in the main game. More still aren't comfortable with the less-than-stellar gameplay from celebrities and contestants., or the fact that the "dance" theme was substituted over the 1982 theme in post-production.
- Designated Villain: The judge sometimes gets this treatment whenever an illegal clue leads to a loss in the Winner's Circle.
- Once after getting buzzed, Vicki Lawrence in $100,000 called the judge an asshole and got a hug from Dick Clark.
- Teresa Ganzel once got zapped for saying "Dirty Underwear" for "Nasty Things". Upon finding out that dirty and nasty were synonymous, she gave a Take That! to the judge, resulting her disagreeing with a buzzer.
- However, not every viewer believed that, as this clip shows a nice letter from a viewer in Texas leading to an appearance by the Judge herself.
- Fake Difficulty: Sometimes present in the Winner's Circle. Illegal clue-bait categories have appeared on all versions such as "Things at an Airport" and "Ice Cream Toppings" with the intention of getting the clue giver to say "airplanes" or "whipped cream" respectively. Sometimes in the Clark era, "Things Used by X" would be rewritten as "What X Uses" with the intention of getting the clue giver to misread "Uses" as "Says". Normally, Clark would tell the clue giver to reread the category but it's an automatic buzz in this case since it counts as a description. This would up tricking many clue givers.
- First Installment Wins: Sort of. Although the tapes of the CBS/ABC Daytime shows for the pre-June 1978 period don't exist anymore, there isn't quite a bit of talk about the Hollywood, CA era of the show, and that the New York days seem to generate the most interest, passion and fondest memories.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
- Any moment where Dick Clark had trouble adding up the amounts on the Winner's Circle or transposing the digits on a car's model year became this after his 2004 stroke, to the point where he said the wrong numbers on a New Year's Eve countdown at least once.
- On $20,000, Didi Conn gave the clue "A sad Vegas visitor" for the last subject in the Winner's Circle. The contestant got it and this was initially ruled a $20,000-win. Then, the buzzer sounded repeatedly until the show went to commercial. After the break, Dick explained the judge's ruling that Didi's clue was too generic for the category and the contestant lost the $20,000. What makes this a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment? The name of the subject: "Famous Losers".
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Part of an ABC news report circa 1978 (after the backdrop changed from orange to blue) had the reporter standing next to the Winner's Circle pyramid, showing six subjects. Seemingly to demonstrate what would likely happen to the show with inflation, $20,000 became $70,000, with the 7 in the same font as the other numbers used during the New York era. Funnily enough, the show has never had a $70,000 prize, and the two largest amounts used at the top were $50,000 and $100,000.
- Much later, The Onion made a similar joke about New $25,000 reruns being adjusted for inflation, referring to the show as The $53,715.89 Pyramid. The Onion being The Onion, they included the infamous "Anthing With A Collar" blooper for added satirical effect.
- It's Hard, So It Sucks!:
- Fans of the series give the 2002 revival this treatment. See They Changed It, Now It Sucks! below.
- In general, detractors of the show feel the difficulty in the Winner's Circle isn't helped by the judging which became stricter with each series. Among the most vocal complaint is a smart contestant could wind up paying for a mistake made by the celebrity whenever an unhelpful or illegal clue leads to a loss. Others criticize the illegality of certain clues, such as synonyms even if the parts of speech don't agree ("A showman's wares" was buzzed for "Things That Are Presented") and some that drift into Moon Logic territory (For "Things You Fry", a "French Potato" was buzzed because "there is no such thing as a french potato").
- Some clues could be buzzed haphazardly. On two different episodes, "Mulberries" was a legal clue for "Things on a Bush" and "Elastic" was used as a clue for "Flexible Things" and both resulted in wins. On different episodes, those same clues were used for the same subjects and they got buzzed.
- It's the Same, Now It Sucks!:
- What a select few thought of The Pyramid after viewing GSN's special "sneak preview" episode (it was intended to be, after all, a direct homage to Dick Clark's version). There's even a fraction of the fanbase that thinks the reason for the show's short run was because it was almost exactly the same.
- There have been similar complaints about the Michael Strahan $100,000 Pyramid as well, though it has been better received by both game show fans and the general TV audience.
- Most Wonderful Sound: The Winner's Circle timer, used in all aired incarnations save Donnymid.
- The Problem with Licensed Games: The $1,000,000 Pyramid for the Nintendo Wii, easily one of the worst game show video games ever created. No Mii support (typical of Ludia's Wii games), the classic 1982-91 logo is a lie since the game otherwise copies pretty much everything from Donnymid (the version most fans hate viciously), zero computer AI (your opponents start off by scoring one point on just about every subject; they get smarter as you progress, but will never pose a challenge), laboriously slow gameplay, hideous camera angles (no shots of the Winner's Circle pyramid while you're playing it), and the $1,000,000 top prize is awarded every time you clear the Winner's Circle thus you have no incentive to play it after clearing the game once... unless you really want to unlock the wardrobe items.
- Replacement Scrappy: John Davidson was criticized by many fans for constantly screwing up, similarly to when he hosted The Hollywood Squares. Seriously, something like this should never happen:John: You need seven to tie and eight to win...Judge: (buzzer)
- At least twice, he had to ask on-air why the stagehands were flashing cue cards at him:
- One involved a team who found the Mystery 7 last. They only needed four points to win, but by long-standing rules would play out the category to try for a trip to Aruba. John apparently didn't know this, because a stagehand flashed a cue card reading "but keep playing" and he had to ask what it meant. (To John's credit, he learned from this mistake—the same thing happened later in the run and he handled it flawlessly.)
- On another Mystery 7, he nearly blurted out the topic (which on a Mystery 7 isn't revealed until afterward, hence the "Mystery") and asked why they were flashing a card that said "don't tell".
- Downplayed with Donny Osmond; while he was no Dick Clark, and was derided for his No Indoor Voice tendencies during Winner's Circle losses, many would say that he was actually halfway decent as a host, and that the blatant changes to the format were a far, far bigger issue than any of his own faults.
- At least twice, he had to ask on-air why the stagehands were flashing cue cards at him:
- Retroactive Recognition: Actor Barry Gordon, best known as Donatello, Razor/Jake Clawson, and the NesQuik Bunny, appeared twice on the show. First on $20,000 (promoted as being from Fish, the short-lived spinoff of Barney Miller focusing on Abe Vigoda's character), then early on in New $25,000 (presumably having been promoted as being from Archie Bunker's Place where he played Archie's Jewish accountant, Mel).
- So Okay, It's Average: What some people thought, and still think, of the 2012 version once it actually got going. It's especially in full force now, considering which version came before it and which came after it.
- Special Effect Failure:
- On at least five occasions, the slides fell out of the Winner's Circle trilons. You have to admire the contestant for not turning around after a large plastic sheet has just slammed into the floor right behind their back!
- On this episode, the computers froze in the middle of a round, causing white bars to appear on the screen.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
- The 1996-97 pilots altered the gameplay (and the set!) very drastically. Would you believe one celebrity for each category?
- Donnymid, to most fans. The kicker? It was done by the same guy who did the 1996-97 pilots. The double kicker? It was the basis for Ludia's $1,000,000 game.
- A hyperactive host (albeit, not unlike Todd Newton, one far more competent than the other "pretty boy" hosts the genre was inundated with at the time).
- Dark set and loud techno theme. Fun fact: even the critics said this about Donnymid's theme selection, bemoaning it as "change for the sake of change".
- Six words in 20 seconds instead of seven in 30. While this may not seem like much, it did actually affect things the older format gave teams an average of 4.28 seconds to get each word; under the Donnymid format, this shrunk to 3.33 seconds per word.
- Gratuitous camera angles, especially in the Winner's Circle.
- One of the worst warm-up guys in the genre, Steve Saunders.
- Taping all the front games first, then all the Winner's Circle rounds.
- If the contestant opted to receive in the Winner's Circle, the celebrity was briefed on the categories and given clues. If the contestant opted to give the clues, both were in the dark.
- The Winner's Circle itself had some bad writing and plenty of Moon Logic Puzzles. This wasn't helped by anal judging which required the category names to be said verbatim for credit to be given.
- Because there were no returning champions in this version, in order to qualify for the tournament, a player had to conquer the Winner's Circle twice on the same day, which given the before mentioned problems was harder than before. The same thing was required to win the top prize in the tournament, meaning any tournament winner had to conquer the Winner's Circle four times in 2 days. On top of that, the top prize was still $100,000 dollars in an era where million dollar game shows were big.
- Following the stuck-to-what-worked 2009 pilots which convinced fans the show could work in the here-and-now, Michael Davies' changes for the 2010 pilots were (according to him) "designed to bring the show into the 21st Century".
- The set had no chairs, which meant that everybody stood up. While Davies referred to this as "bringing the show to its feet", contestant applications looked for people who "love to play charades".
- The Winner's Circle pyramid, the show's centerpiece (used in every version and pilot), was ousted for the first time in the franchise's history in favor of graphics on the screen. The center screen was used for both game boards, while the two surrounding it were used to display the words in the front game. The other four were just... there, and it didn't help that the Winner's "Circle" itself was actually pyramid-shaped.
- The main game was played pretty much the same, except the third and fourth categories of every game were the bonus ones and all categories were pre-selected by the producers rather than being chosen by the teams. Each hour-long episode was structured like a tournament, with the first two winners playing the third game for a shot at $25,000.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: Say what you will about the rest of Donnymid, but the way the monitors for the Winner's Circle flipped up was pretty cool looking.
- The Winner's Circle lighting effect from New $25,000/$100,000 also deserve mention. When this round begins, the lights dim around the stage. The main effect causes the prominent blue pyramids around the set to disappear, thus creating the appearance of dozens of smaller orange pyramids hovering about.
- What an Idiot!: Every game show has them, and word-association games with illegal clues are more prone.
- At least twice, a team managed to claim none of the boxes in the Winner's Circle. One of those instances, seen here, was one of the few times that the contestant chose to give clues.
- At least one team on Donnymid managed to get zero words in one category in the main game.
- Those Donnymid judges, who usually required the contestant to say the Winner's Circle subject verbatim, with uttering the "essence" considered unacceptable (breaking all precedent). Among others:
- Category: Characters In The Wizard of Oz
Unacceptable Guess: Things In The Wizard of Oz
- Category: Things Mick Jagger Would Say
Unacceptable Guesses: Mick Jagger / I Am Mick Jagger
- Category: Tools
Unacceptable Guess: Things In A Toolbox
- Category: Things On A Cave Wall
Unacceptable Guess: Things In A Cave
- Category: Things A Babysitter Says
Unacceptable Guesses: Babysitter / Things A Babysitter Does note
- Category: Characters In The Wizard of Oz
- ABC $100,000, July 24, 2016.
Category: Things You Hit
Clues: A Person, Your Wife
- WTH, Casting Agency?:
- Connie Francis' run as a celebrity guest on $10,000. Her career had just been sidelined after she was traumatized by a rape in 1974, and Clark, a friend of hers, thought that putting her on Pyramid would help ease her back into the limelight. Unfortunately, she was paired against Nipsey Russell, already an ace at Pyramid, and she became one of the first celebs to go 0 for 10 in a week. What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History placed this at #85.
- John Davidson in 1991. Yes, Dick was busy with The Challengers and Bill Cullen had sadly died a few months before taping began in 1990, but they couldn't get anyone better than Davidson?
- The many weeks where Henry Polic II (a friend of Stewart) filled-in as announcer. Stewart's earlier Double Talk (a revival of his own Shoot For The Stars) proved that Polic wasn't that great a host; Pyramid proved that he wasn't that great an announcer, either.
- Those who don't speak English as their primary language are naturally going to have a difficult time playing an English-language game where the object is to describe words and phrases as quickly and concisely as possible. Despite this, Donnymid brought in Russian-born Lenny Krayzelburg as part of a special "Olympic Week". During his two episodes, he proceeded to lose all four games against the other celeb (Picabo Street), and at least once did so poorly in the maingame that it ended after the fifth category. Considering that, the fact that players change partners for Game 2, and the many ways Donnymid screwed contestants out of qualifying for the Tournament, it seems the only reason the poor guy was there in the first place was so nobody playing that week could qualify.
YMMV / Pyramid