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Our category for this round is "Subjective Tropes". (ding ding DING ding)


  • Adaptation Displacement: Sort of — many people believe the show started in the early 1980s with Pat, which is only half right. This displacement is made more obvious in recent years, with the show's constant references to whichever nighttime season it's on, thus disregarding the long run that the daytime version had already built up come 1983.
  • Award Snub:
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    • For most of the 2010's, Wheel was often the only major game show not nominated for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show, sometimes even passed over for shows that were cancelled prior to the ceremony, such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Monopoly Millionaires' Club, and the 2018 reboot of Double Dare. It was suspected that Wheel was not even submitted for the award due to Sony (or former executive producer Harry Friedman) thinking that Jeopardy! had a far better chance of winning if nominated in the same category as Wheel. However, Wheel did win the award in 2011 in a tie with Jeopardy!, but only to tie into Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek both receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award that same year. Wheel returned to the nomination lineup following Friedman's departure.
    • Pat Sajak has been nominated for the Outstanding Game Show Host award every year since 1989, but has not won it since 1998. He was even nominated twice in the category in 2022, once for the syndicated version and once for Celebrity Wheel.
  • Awesome Music:
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    • "Changing Keys", the 1980s theme song and by far the best known among fans, as well as its various re-orchestrations lasting until 2000. It was brought back for Season 39 with a new arrangement.
    • "Nightwalk", the cue used during shopping rounds in The '80s, was pretty cool too. The show themselves must've thought similarly, as even after shopping was retired, it was used as a prize cue until the mid-90s.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Throughout Season 23, shows based in Culver City used Zany Cartoon intros featuring people rushing to their television sets to watch Wheel. Outside of the season premiere, such intros were never referenced on the show and had nothing to do with the gamenote . In Seasons 31 and 32, a revamped version of one of the intros was re-used for America's Game episodes.
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  • Bile Fascination: The Bonus Round has reached the point where the show's hardcore fans fully expect the answer to be a contrived mess filled with obscure consonants to prevent it from being won more often than once a week most of the time. Some fans go so far as making predictions of possible solutions on future episodes; several of them have since come true, mostly thanks to the show reusing words and even entire puzzles in a very short timespan (e.g. WALKING MY BIKE in 2018 and WALK YOUR BIKE in 2020; neither was solved).
  • Broken Base:
    • The Toss-Ups are divisive among fans. Those who support it agree that it bring more fairness to the game and can award fast puzzle solvers without falling victim to bad Wheel spins. Before Toss-Ups, the red contestant would be the only player guaranteed to start two rounds, due to the game having a four-round minimum for most years. However, some Toss-Up supporters think that there are too many in one episode, and that the show should only stick to one or two. The $1,000 Toss-Up in particular is viewed as unnecessary by some fans due to merely deciding who is interviewed first, always being themed to the week (since about the late 2000's) and for being worth the same amount as the show's consolation prize and house minimum (even more so on team episodes, where said amount is $2,000 but the Toss-Up value remains unchanged). Fans on the opposing side think that Toss-Ups should not be done at all, as they take too much time away from the regular rounds, and also divert from the show's namesake in that the Wheel is not involved. This became even more divisive when the third one was split into the Triple Toss-Up in Season 37; some fans praised the addition of even more puzzles and more opportunities to catch up after the Prize Puzzle, while others found it even more time-consuming and gimmicky than the existing format, especially with the puzzles' thematic writing.
    • The removal of returning champions. Some fans think the show should bring them back, as it rewards some of the better puzzle solvers (when they don't fall victim to bad spins and/or an expensive Prize Puzzle trip), adds excitement to the game, and can bring good publicity the show much like they often do on Jeopardy! Other fans think the show should remain "one-and-done", due to the luck factor of the Wheel (and in more recent years, the Prize Puzzle) not guaranteeing that the best puzzle solvers win the game, despite other luck-based game shows such as Press Your Luck having returning champions during their original runs.
    • The rule for Crossword Puzzles which requires only the words on the board to be said, meaning contestants who add the word "and" are ruled incorrect. As these instances have increased, fans have clashed about this rule in relation to the spirit of the game. A growing number of fans, casual viewers and former contestants have stated that this rule unfairly penalizes players because the words have to be solved in list form anyway. Those in support of it feel it's the contestant's job to pay attention, especially considering Pat always gives a warning of "Say everything, don't add anything."
    • There is some division on whether it's fair that the $10,000 Mystery Wedge is considered a prize and cannot be used to buy vowels, despite being cash. Some fans think it should be awarded as spendable cash (which is the case on some international versions), especially since the safe option of $1,000 per consonant is spendable, and Pat never acknowledges that the $10,000 is not spendable until after it is found. Several Mystery Rounds have had contestants find the $10,000 on their first turn, followed by Pat reminding them that they have to spin again since they have "no spendable cash", and immediately losing the prize to a penalty wedge or wrong consonant. This rule also led to at least one round needing to be thrown out due to a contestant accidentally being allowed to buy vowels after finding the prize on her first turn, and another round where a contestant was not allowed to buy a vowel due to a scoring error resulting in her score being displayed as $0 (plus the wedge) when it should have been $1,000 and later losing the wedge. Other fans don't mind the $10,000 being a prize, since for the wedge's first few years, the prize was often a car or gift certificate.
    • Is Wheel being mistreated by the affiliates who air it? And does this extend to Sony as well? Some fans can't help but feel suspicious that Wheel always seems to get the short end of the stick compared to Jeopardy!, especially where pre-emptions are concerned. Those who've gotten sick of such accusations have resorted to branding anyone who mentions preferential treatment as a conspiracy theorist. It has gotten to the point where unofficial fan forum Buy a Vowel Boards disciplines any discussion related to this matter.
    • Celebrity Wheel can lurch into this. Diehards of the syndicated version hate how the puzzles have been extremely dumbed down compared to the regular version, as well as only playing three rounds minimum instead of four. There's also certain episodes where loud, energetic celebrities end up taking over the game, even if they don't win, which can really annoy people (Leslie Jones and Jeff Garlin are the biggest examples). And the lack of round gimmicks, aside from the Million Dollar Wedge and the regular Top Prize amounts, can make the rounds feel the same. Not to mention how absolutely busted the "Win a bunch of money for solving the puzzle" mechanic is, with the Round 3 prize of $20,000 for a successful solve being compared to the Prize Puzzle on the syndicated show. Supporters, however, enjoy how laid back the show is and how the wackier celebs tend to throw Pat off his game, saying the syndicated version has suffered major Seasonal Rot due to rule changes and Pat running on autopilot. They also say that, since people are playing for charity, they're allowed to act up and get wacky, as it's all in good fun.
  • Creator's Pet: The Prize Puzzle. The show has warmed up to it but fans certainly haven't (evidenced by its entry in Scrappy Mechanic below). Introduced in Season 21, Prize Puzzles originally occurred weekly. Two seasons later, they started occurring daily. Since its introduction, many popular elements have been retired ostensibly to make room for it, such as the Jackpot Round, the bonus categories, the Free Spin (replaced by the Free Play wedge which itself was phased out for Season 39) and the ½ Car. It doesn't help that the Prize Puzzle has never been affected by budget cuts.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception:
    • Thinking the Million Dollar Wedge actually awards $1,000,000 if the contestant solves the puzzle with it, or $1,000,000 per consonant. Some of the celebrities on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune have been guilty of this.
    Leslie Jones: (after solving a puzzle with the wedge) What'd that get me, Pat?
    Pat: Now, you won just $400...
    Leslie: What?! I got a million dollars! (gestures at her wedge)
    Pat: Hang on. I'm not through.
    Leslie: Oh, okay. Just don't be trying to cheat me out of my money, Pat.
    • Likewise, saying that a contestant "lost a million dollars" when the wedge is removed from play due to a Bankrupt or someone else winning the round.
    • Saying "I'd like to buy a(n)..." followed by a consonant.
    • Saying "I'd like to solve the puzzle" right after a spin is not allowed, except if Free Play was landed on. One 2017 contestant tried to do this, but Pat talked her into calling a consonant instead.
    • Calling for letters by asking, "Is there a(n) [letter]?" is extremely discouraged by the show's producers, although this was common in the show's early years. Several Wheel parodies on other TV shows continue to use this phrasing. AI players in some of the video games do this as well.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Jeopardy! While the two shows' hosts have always had nothing but respect for one another aside from a few tongue-in-cheek jabs here and there, it's a different story with the viewers. Although the two shows are not competitors, the general public likes to treat them as such:
    • While the majority of Wheel fans enjoy Jeopardy! as a companion program, a decent portion of Jeopardy! viewers despise Wheel, with many dubbing it "Jeopardy! for idiots" due to being focused on words and puzzles instead of trivia. Jeopardy! fans who live in markets where Wheel airs first like to refer to Wheel (whether innocently or condescendingly) as "the appetizer before the main course", which some Wheel fans find belittling. Wheel fans are also subject to common jokes about Wheel only getting ratings from people who are "too lazy to change the channel after Jeopardy!."
    • Some Jeopardy! fans even go so far as to wish that Wheel would be cancelled altogether and replaced with an additional episode of Jeopardy!, despite the latter's syndication run being a direct result of Wheel's success. It didn't help that Wheel got its start by replacing a cancelled Jeopardy! on NBC's schedule nine years before the two shows became syndication partners. Several Central and Mountain Time Zone markets actually do air two episodes of Jeopardy! back-to-back (although one of the two is always a repeat) in afternoon time slots well before Wheel, which does not air more than once a day in any markets.
    • The rivalry increased in the late 2010's after Jeopardy!'s surge in popularity and increasing ratings thanks to viral contestants such as Austin Rogers and James Holzhauer, the show's addition to Netflix and Hulu (two and a half years before Wheel was added to either), host Alex Trebek's inspirational battle against cancer, and ABC primetime specials (before Wheel had its first) that included a few digs at Wheel.
    • In the rare case that Wheel actually has something over Jeopardy!, the latter's fans will complain, such as Jeopardy! being removed from Netflix in August 2021 despite Wheel remaining (even though Wheel was only added six months prior, while Jeopardy! had been available for just under three years).
    • The shows' hosts have also come into debate, with Sajak generally on the losing end because of his job requiring less effort than Trebek's (and his successors), and also because of his openly conservative political views (while Trebek's stances, though not entirely opposite, were more subdued). The situation with then-new executive producer Mike Richards, who assumed the role of Trebek's permanent successor only to step down after one taping due to a combination of backstage drama and a resurfacing of inappropriate comments, added to the rivalry, with several Jeopardy! fans arguing that Richards' comments were no worse than some of the things Pat Sajak had said, though Sajak remains on Wheel without any problem. Once all the controversy on Jeopardy! blew over, mostly thanks to a perfectly-timed unprecedented streak of "superchamps", Wheel fans found themselves in a Déjà Vu of the late Harry Friedman era; with Bellamie Blackstone tapped as the new executive producer for Season 40, many hope that this Déjà Vu ends.
    • Some Wheel fans argue that the show deserves just as much respect and exposure as Jeopardy!, with the two being sister programs and all. However, many Jeopardy! fans (and even some Wheel fans) believe that Jeopardy! deserves to be the more "dominant" program, whether it's due to being more intellectually stimulating, its notoriety for its returning champions, or Wheel becoming more stagnant throughout the 21st century. Even some fans of both shows are insistent that Jeopardy! does not receive "better treatment" than Wheel, and that its higher prominence is simply a business decision by Sony.
    • Sajak and Trebek were both very aware of the rivalry.
      Jeopardy! Contestant: I've heard stories from past contestants about how they were able to get out of a ticket by mentioning where they got the car, but apparently, I've haven't been able to use that one yet.
      Trebek: So you've been hoping that you could get stopped, get pulled over, and say, "But I won this car on Jeopardy!"... (deep voice, as cop) "Yeah, but I'm a Wheel of Fortune fan, sucker." (normal voice) And you're in deep trouble.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The very first version of "Changing Keys", used for about a year on the daytime show, is typically referred to as the "chirpy version". It was soon remixed into the more well-known arrangement.
    • The Prize Puzzle is often referred to as the Trip Puzzle because with only three known exceptions, the Prize Puzzle has always offered trips. It has also been referred to as such on the show by at least one contestant.
    • The minimum cash prize for appearing on the show, $1,000, has been called "the pity thousand" by fans after a contestant referred to it as "pity money" on one episode.
      • Similarly, the house minimum and first Toss-Up values (also $1,000) are referred to as "the false dignity thousand" if that's all a contestant wins.
    • "Free Vowel" for the Free Play wedge since almost everyone called a vowel whenever it was landed on - though the players only really did so because the contestant coordinators heavily and repeatedly suggested it. note 
    • "Pink Bankrupt Magnet" has been a coined event for a contestant losing the Wild Card to Bankrupt.
    • The categories "What Are You Doing?" and "What Are You Wearing?" have commonly been shortened to their acronyms WAYD? and WAYW?, respectively.
    • If a week has all five Bonus Rounds lost, it is said to be "skunked". This term is borrowed from The Price Is Right fan community, where the same term is used if an episode has all six pricing games completely lost.
    • The white object contestants use to spin the wheel in Season 38 and Season 39 has been called the "Wheel condom" thanks to its unfortunate design. For people who prefer more politically-correct terminology, others picked up on Pat's highly technical term of "the white thing".
    • Fans have taken to calling Jeopardy! "that other game show" thanks to syndication markets giving Wheel the short end of the stick whenever there are pre-emptions.
  • Friendly Fandoms: The Wheel fandom overlaps a lot more with The Price Is Right than any other game show. Both shows are well-known for their lighthearted, anyone-can-play, fun-for-all-ages atmospheres. The fact that both shows have a wheel also may have something to do with it.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The Prize Wedge, the Mystery Prize, and the now-retired $10,000 Wedge. In one 1985-86 episode, the Wheel Prize was a Cadillac worth $31,211!
    • The top-dollar value, especially if the contestant spins it multiple times or has the Wild Card and opts to use it.
    • Winning the Jackpot (1996-2013) could become this if several consonants are called, regardless of whether they are in the puzzle. Even more of a breaker if the top-dollar value is hit.
      • The daytime version's Jackpot wedge also qualifies. It starts at $1,000 and goes up by that amount each day until it's won, so after several days, it really could put the game out of reach. The highest known daytime Jackpot was $22,000.
    • The Prize Puzzle merely requires the player to solve the puzzle to win. The value of the prize is at least $7,000, and like other prizes, counts towards the player's score. In fact, it's become a very Boring, but Practical strategy for players to solve a Prize Puzzle with no money even if there are several letters left on the board because the prize is worth so much that any money earned by spinning at that point is too inconsequential in comparison to risk hitting a Bankrupt/Lose A Turn and giving the round (and, more importantly, the prize) to another player. To date, there have been three instances of contestants (or in one case, a team) managing to win the game with only the Prize Puzzle trip and no actual money, and none of them won the Bonus Round to boot.
      • On the XL weeks in Season 40, winning the Prize Puzzle also comes with a $5,000 bonus, making the game even more dependent on Round 3.
    • The ½ Car (2011-2019). Pick up both tags and win the car (usually in the $15,000 range), and you're almost guaranteed victory. If you win the car in the Prize Puzzle round (Round 3), the other contestants might as well go home.
    • The Big Money Wedge, used only in Season 25 (2007-08), where a player could earn $25,000 from one letter!
    • The Express Wedge, introduced in Season 31, has the potential to break the game wide open. Essentially, if a contestant lands on this space, they can continuously call consonants at $1,000 each or buy vowels without ever having to spin until they either solve the puzzle or call a wrong letter, in which case they go Bankrupt. The kicker? It only shows up in Round 3, which is also home to the more notorious Prize Puzzle. This means that if a skilled or lucky player hits the Express wedge with plenty of consonants left on the board, the no-risk thousands racked up with this space combined with the $7,000+ from the Prize Puzzle can turn this space into a nasty One-Hit Kill against the other two players, where even a $6,000 Final Spin isn't likely to be enough to catch up.
    • The former Free Play wedge. Vowels normally cost $250 and can't be called after spinning the wheel. However, when this space was invented, it created a loophole in the game design. Almost everybody who landed on this space exploited it for free vowels even when it wasn't beneficial to do so.
    • On team episodes, both the Wheel Prizes and Prize Puzzle trips are usually higher in value than on regular episodes, which can especially be a game breaker when considering the fact that all other stakes (except for the house minimum being $2,000 instead of $1,000) remain the same.
    • Starting in Season 31, the weeks sponsored by Collette Vacations generally have more extravagant trips than usual, which often means both Prize Wedge trips and Prize Puzzle trips valued at well over $10,000.
    • On Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, each round has a solve bonus: $5,000 for Round 1, $10,000 for Round 2, and $20,000 for Rounds 3 and onward. On the very first episode, Tony Hawk exploited this by solving Rounds 1 and 2 immediately upon getting a turn, netting $15,000 without spinning the Wheel at all in the first two rounds. Pat will often encourage the celebrities to just solve for the bonus if they know it, rather than spin.
  • Gameplay Derailment: The RSTLNE change in the Bonus Round and the (on-and-off) use of ampersands in Same Name can be seen as examples of this.
  • Growing the Beard: Most fans agree that the removal of the shopping rounds was a good idea, although some still hold nostalgia for it. This was first tried on October 5, 1987 as the Big Month of Cash during the nighttime version. It proved so successful that the nighttime version seamlessly moved into the "play for cash" rules set up by the Big Month Of Cash. As a result, the game became much faster, allowing for more puzzles (and consequently, bigger winnings and an increased "play along" incentive for viewers). Daytime followed suit with a No Budget version on July 17, 1989.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • One episode put up a disclaimer before a TV Title puzzle saying that the episode was taped before the late-night feud with Conan and Jay Leno. The answer? "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN". No doubt many a home viewer solved that puzzle before any letters were revealed.
    • On April Fool's Day 1991, Vanna had a cushion under her dress in the final segment, as a means of tricking Pat and viewers into thinking she was pregnant. This suddenly became much less funny when she had a miscarriage in September 1992.
    • For that matter, the 1992 puzzle "VANNA'S PREGNANT" became this when said miscarriage happened; the puzzle was edited out.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: On the April Fools' Day 1997 episode (where Alex Trebek hosted while Pat and Vanna played for charity), the first round's answer was PAT I'D LIKE TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE. After it was solved, Alex pointed out that they could not use the puzzle on a normal episode because it would be "too confusing". The answer was used in 2003 and again in 2011 (albeit without "PAT" on the former).
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!:
    • On modern-day episodes, the $1,000 Toss-Up (and often other puzzles throughout the game) has something to do with the week's theme 99% of the time. This makes it much easier to figure them out to point of some fans and contestants being able to figure out the puzzle with no letters, or even before the blanks come up. Some themes have more themed puzzles than others; some weeks have only the $1,000 Toss-Up and sometimes one "regular" puzzle themed, while others have nearly every puzzle themed, such as Teacher's Week and Great Outdoors week.
    • In some episodes, the Round 4 puzzle (often the Speed-Up round) is themed towards winning, victory, or finishing. Sometimes, it's obvious that these puzzles are written in hopes that the puzzle becomes meta if the appropriate player solves it - which, to be fair, can become a Moment of Awesome when this does happen (such as one contestant solving COME-FROM-BEHIND VICTORY and actually achieving such a feat with that solve).
    • Some longtime fans have criticized the show for constantly adding newer, often more specific categories: the number of categories has grown from 3 on the 1973 pilot, to 6 when the show began, to 36 (not counting plural forms) today. Something that might originally have been Thing might now be called Living Thing, Food & Drink, Around the House, In the Kitchen or What Are You Wearing?
    • There's also some hatred for Prize Puzzles constantly being themed to beaches or travel in some way.
    • One from the 2012 Facebook version: It is very common for RSTLNE to reveal more than half of a bonus puzzle (such as ALBERT EINSTEIN), which has disappointed some fans who are used to the more difficult ones on TV. As this is a common problem with most of the console adaptations, it most likely stems that the game pulls its bonus puzzles from the entire databank, as opposed to having round-specific puzzles with the appropriate difficulty.
    • As of the 2010's, many puzzles are partially or fully recycled from only a few seasons prior, which makes it much easier for dedicated fans to play along at home, especially when the Bonus Round tends to use certain difficult words such as JUICY and QUICK at least once per season. Since the introduction of a category choice in 2017, many bonus puzzles now reuse words from just one season prior (such as YOUNG JACKRABBIT in 2018, SWIFT JACKRABBIT in 2019, and PAIR OF JACKRABBITS in 2020).
    • This trope also partially explains the Fandom Rivalry with Jeopardy!, as some of the latter show's fans have this perspective of Wheel.
    • Although forgivable since it was for children, the Bonus Round puzzles on Wheel 2000 could be as easy as EINSTEIN.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: While the show is known among the game show community for implementing changes most every year, fans are not happy with certain aspects of the show that have remained the same for the past several years:
    • On the nighttime show, vowels have always been priced at $250. Meanwhile, the lowest value on the Wheel evolved from $100 (or $25 on daytime) to $500, allowing at least two vowel purchases from just one consonant on virtually any spin.
    • While fans have had several different proposals for making the Prize Puzzle less of a Game-Breaker (such as moving it to Round 1, offering less expensive trips, or having the trip not count towards score), the placement and mechanics have remained the same since 2011 (even with the addition of the Express Wedge in its round in 2013), with the trips becoming more expensive on average as seasons progress.
    • The yearly revelation that the Bonus Round minimum increases to match the season number times $1,000, while expected by now, is usually met with criticism due to the necessity of having harder bonus puzzles and less expensive cars to offset the effect on the budget, as well as the non-minimum cash prizes becoming rarer.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Whenever someone brings up old news on a game show forum, the standard response is something along the lines of "[Chuck] Woolery left Wheel." On occasion, the original poster has no idea what they're talking about ("Chuck Woolery on Wheel? Since when?").
    • Many of the game's catch phrases, such as "I'd like to solve the puzzle", "I'd like to buy a vowel", and "C'mon, big money!" have entered common parlance.
    • The ceramic Dalmatian, a longtime fixture of the shopping rounds. Even though they stopped shopping in the late 1980s, references to the Dalmatian still crop up regularly. Vanna herself has one, named "Sheldon", and it was hidden somewhere on-set throughout all of Season 30.
    • It is fairly common for internet users to Photoshop fake, often vulgar puzzles on a screenshot of the board from an actual episode. There are several viral examples of this, and many assume that they are real.
    • Something of a common fandom joke is hypothetically having "R.L. STINE" as a bonus puzzle, since his name so closely resembles the order of RSTLNE and happens to have all those letters only once and only one missing. People who think a bonus round had too many of the given letters will also sometimes make comments such as "now that's just approaching R.L. STINE territory."
    • Pat's cringe-worthy attempt at a Scooby-Doo impression after a contestant solved SHAGGY & SCOOBY-DOO on a 2009 episode.
    • A contestant mis-solving the puzzle I WALK THE LINE BY JOHNNY CASH as I HAVE THE WINE BY JOHNNY CASH in a 2013 episode. A year later, Jeopardy! referenced this with two side-by-side categories: "I Have the Wine" and "By Johnny Cash".
    • In 2018, a viral Twitter account named @wofanswers began posting stills of partially-revealed puzzles and captioning them with humorous, often NSFW answers. Most of these answers do not properly fit in all the blanks, which the account holder is well aware of, and will often lampshade it (such as filling all the blanks with vowels when the "No More Vowels" graphic is on screen).
    • A clip from a 2016 episode of Vanna revealing ten T's as Pat repeats, "There's a T, and there's a T..." has become a popular reaction video on Twitter. At first, the joke was that Pat's speech could be interpreted as "There's a tea".note  It is also used in the basketball community to make fun of referees who are eager to call a technical foul, often colloquially referred to as a "T", and signaled by making a T with the hands.
    • In 2020, a 2016 clip of the bonus puzzle BACK IT UP being solved became the basis for several TikTok videos. With __C_ IT _P revealed, the user will confidently shout a fitting, but vulgar answer, then express their bemusement when the actual solution is revealed.
    • The 80's Song Lyrics puzzle NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN from a September 2017 episode became the basis of a meme in 2021. A still of the blank puzzle is captioned: "Friend: You can't possibly guess a Wheel of Fortune puzzle with no letters. / Me:". Some variants replace Vanna's head with that of Rick Astley, the song's artist.
    • On Twitter, some people will replace buzzwords, certain names, or entire phrases with asterisks to avoid having the tweet get reported or seen by other users or bots who search for the words or names and provoke an argument. Many have compared deciphering these kinds of tweets to solving Wheel puzzles.
    • Pat's exaggeratedly wide-eyed expression while imitating a contestant's reaction to an opponent's quick solve on the February 26, 2020 episode.
    • Pat's Double Entendre to a contestant in a March 2021 episode: "She wants a D and she's gonna get one."
    • "A GROUP OF PILL-PUSHERS?" note 
      • A popular edit of this clip has the puzzle altered to "BITC___ I_ THE FUTURE". The contestant's incorrect guess is redubbed to "BITCHES IN THE FUTURE?". Pat's reaction is unaltered, then the puzzle is correctly solved (again, with the contestant's voice dubbed over) as "Bitcoin IS THE FUTURE".note 
    • Rapper Yung Joc became a celebrity overnight after a contestant failed to solve the December 20, 2021 Bonus Round puzzle YOUNG JOCK.
  • Misblamed:
    • Rolf Benirschke is generally blamed for causing the decline of the daytime version. However, its ratings actually held steady during his six-month tenure and NBC announced its cancellation due to the network and Merv Griffin Enterprises being unable to renew their leasing agreement. By this time, The Price Is Right had picked up more viewers while Wheel remained at second place. After the Channel Hop to CBS, the show never attracted the viewer base it formerly had and was off the air a little more than two years later.
    • Pat's comments about GSN in 2003 were often blamed as the reason GSN took reruns off their schedule.
    • Whenever there's a questionable judgment call, Pat usually takes the brunt of it on social media despite these decisions being beyond his control.
    • After Mike Richards' firing, it was long-believed that Michael Davies succeeded him as executive producer on both Jeopardy! and Wheel, and was initially stated as such by Variety. A Deadline article revealed that this was never the case; Davies only succeeded Richards on Jeopardy!. Steve Schwartz became the new showrunner after Richards departed, though he was still credited as the supervising producer, with no executive producer listed.
  • More Popular Replacement:
    • Probably no one except for diehard game show fans or people who were alive during her tenure could name Susan Stafford as the original hostess. Vanna White, on the other hand, went from being a nobody to being a key factor in the show's runaway success in The '80s, and arguably the most famous Lovely Assistant in television history.
    • After a rocky couple of months, Mike Richards showed lots of promise the season after he replaced the wildly unpopular Harry Friedman as executive producer. Among Richards' contributions were a noticeable increase in writing quality with more modern puzzles, a primetime version with celebrities playing for charity and a week-long promotion where a house was offered in the Bonus Round. His brief tenure also saw the return of "Changing Keys" after a 21-year absence and the ousting of Free Play in favor of $950 (which had never been a playable value) on celebrity episodes and $850 (last used in 1979) on the syndicated version. Unfortunately, Richards would later get himself fired from both this and Jeopardy! after various controversies.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The "WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!" chant that has opened the syndicated version since its inception, as well as the daytime version from August 1983 to its 1991 end.
    • The chimes that play as the puzzle is revealed. This was the original version used until Goen's first daytime episode (July 17, 1989), when this version took its place.
    • Also, the chimes used after categories like "Who Is It?" or "Slogan", signaling the puzzle had a bonus answer. This particular sound was recycled from the earlier High Rollers.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The animated introduction used on the Halloween 2010 episodes. It features zombie versions of Pat and Vanna's avatars from the Wii game, filmed in scratchy black-and-white like an old horror movie. Afterward, the trademark "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" chant is distorted, so it sounds deep, low, and scary.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: Since the game is relatively simple, most of the video game adaptations are solid outings, in particular the 2010-12 THQ-published game that, for the first time, featured Pat Sajak in addition to Vanna, along with Developer's Foresight to have a separate databank for Toss-Up and the bonus round.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • $2,000, the top value in daytime from 1979-89, was previously used for a head-to-head round on the hour-long episodes in 1975-76.
    • The hour-long format of the show is best known today through Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, but the show had run for an hour from November 1975-January 1976, with the game's format not too dissimilar from Celebrity Wheel. The only differences were that each of the two halves were played by different trios, with the two winners of each half playing in one last "head-to-head" round, which was referred to as a Bonus Round, but was not the kind of Bonus Round played on the show today.
      • Celebrity Wheel's gameplay format is also very similar to Jeopardy!: Greatest of All Time, which aired on ABC one year prior to Wheel's primetime debut. Both primetime game shows play two full games with the same contestants, reset the scores before the second game, and total up everyone's scores from both games at the end.
    • While the prize wedges are most commonly associated with the nighttime show (and daytime from 1989-91), they actually date back to the aforementioned head-to-head round.
    • Nickname was long thought to have only been used from 1988-89 until brief footage surfaced from May 31, 1979 and proved it was this Trope. It is also confirmed to have lasted until 1998.
    • Many shows will tie in most or all of the puzzles to that week's theme. However, some Woolery episodes also had a common theme to all the puzzles.
    • The Prize Puzzle, a fixture of the show since 2003, previously had a test run for the first few weeks of the 1997-98 season. At the time, it was played only on Fridays (during the "Friday Finals"), and the puzzles directly described the trip instead of being an otherwise fairly-normal answer relevant to the prize.
      • Could be argued that it has been around since the first Bonus Round on Shopper's Bazaar. The solution to the arguable Ur-Example, ISLE OF CAPRI, indicated the destination of the trip the contestant could win.
    • The "Headline" category is very similar in concept to the short-lived game show Headline Chasers, which Merv Griffin Enterprises co-produced.
    • The Million Dollar Wedge was first used on a short-lived revival of the show's Australian version, a few months before it was added to the American Wheel. In Australia, it was even harder to claim, since it was only available in Round 1.
    • The ½ Car tags are a borrowed element from Whammy, which aired on Sony-owned GSN. On that show, contestants had to land on one square labeled "GEM" in the first round, then another labeled "CAR" in the second, without hitting a Whammy in between. Later on, the squares were changed to two halves of a car key.
    • When Season 39 premiered, promos announced the show's "first-ever tournament". This would have been far from the first ever; the actual first tournament took place in January 1976 on the daytime show. It also isn't the first time for the syndicated show; the "Friday Finals" format, used on several special weeks before becoming a regular feature from 1996-98, with one final instance in January 1999, was considered a tournament itself.
    • Some viewers took to social media to complain about the "new" theme music in 2021, not realizing that it was a remake of the theme the show used from 1983-2000. Furthermore, the previous theme had only been in use since 2017.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy:
    • The second episode of Season 31 had the first instance of a contestant playing the then-new Express feature, filling in the entire puzzle by himself from his first turn of the round. He also solved every puzzle after that, including the Bonus Round, finishing with over $71,000 total, including a car. However, the public was instead fuming over a botched solve attempt from another contestant in Round 1, where he lost the Million Dollar Wedge and the majority of media outlets reported that he lost $1,000,000. This caused the show to receive backlash on social media for "being cheap", "too strict", or "strictly cheap".
    • On April 27, 2021, the show gave away a $375,000 luxury house in the Bonus Round for the first time. This was also noted as the biggest non-million win to date. Although there was considerable media coverage soon afterwards, this was quickly forgotten due to a contestant on the next day's Jeopardy! episode being accused of making a racist hand gesture at the beginning of the episode. Even the Wheel stories tried to take away from the win by focusing more on Vanna being "injured" by a clump of confetti hitting her in the head, a fact that Pat playfully pointed out on the show.
  • Parody Displacement: "I'm a Wheel Watcher" is probably better-known to the public than is its source, "I'm a Girl Watcher" by The O'Kaysions.
  • Periphery Demographic: Although the show is known for its popularity with elders, it is also fairly popular with young children, especially as a tool for learning the alphabet. Many contestants on Celebrity Wheel have recounted fond memories of watching the show as kids, often with their parents. It is also popular among the autism community, and in more recent years, has a solid LGBTQ+ following.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:
    • For the few video game adaptations that fall into this, the common denominator tends to be slow gameplay (usually caused by a slow walking animation for Vanna that bogs down the game's pace), a lack of either host, a short game where only three rounds tops are played, or a repetitive databank of puzzles. About half of the GameTek ports qualify.
    • The more recent games of the post-GameTek era quickly become outdated, if not already outdated by the time the game launches, due to subsequent seasons of the show adding, changing, or removing gameplay elements. The 2017 Ubisoft game was released two months into Season 35, but was modeled after Season 34, with no category choice for the Bonus Round and the minimum prize being $34,000. It was ported to the Nintendo Switch during Season 36, and the rules were still not updated.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • After announcer Jack Clark died in July 1988, disc jockey M.G. Kelly took over the announcer's booth until original daytime announcer Charlie O'Donnell returned on February 20, 1989. Despite his affinity for off-the-cuff ad-libs, many fans felt that Kelly's delivery was way too subdued. (Furthermore, Pat has confirmed that M.G. often struggled with prize copy, leading to multiple retakes and, subsequently, his dismissal.)
    • Likewise with all the other guest announcers after Charlie's death; the fanbase was almost unanimously in favor of Jim Thornton, as he was the only one who showed any enthusiasm (yes, even over Rich Fields). Jim got the nod.
    • Harry Friedman, who replaced Nancy Jones as producer in 1995, reportedly because the show's production under Jones's watch was seen as "tired and dated" by Sony executives. While Friedman did a great job on Jeopardy!, he has virtually no love from Wheel’s fan base due to many of the changes he made to keep it fresh and cheap starting in Season 14, the most notorious change being the removal of returning champions, despite keeping them on Jeopardy! and eventually abolishing the limit. The announcement that he would retire after Season 37 was applauded by fans, and it was announced a few weeks later that former The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal showrunner Mike Richards would replace him starting in Season 38. Richards himself was well-liked for his contributions... only to be ousted from the show weeks into Season 39 after various controversies. Despite assumptions and initial reports that Jeopardy! showrunner Michael Davies would lead Wheel as well, supervising producer Steve Schwartz handled the rest of the season instead. With Bellamie Blackstone taking over for Season 40, many fans hope she brings Wheel back to its former glory.
    • The Aussie version wasn't immune to this, either. Tony Barber, best known for his role as host of Sale of the Century, was this when he replaced John Burgess in July 1996 due to the Seven Network's abrupt sacking of the latter as well as the numerous changes to the show (mentioned below) that occurred around the same time.
    • Another Aussie scrappy was Steve Oemcke, who replaced Rob Elliot in 2004 after the latter was fired abruptly. This host change began Wheel's terminal decline, which not even Larry Emdur (who replaced Oemcke at the beginning of 2006) could reverse.
    • Among gameplay elements, the most loathed replacement on the American version was the Free Play wedge which superseded the Free Spin token. Prior to its replacement, the Free Spin had been associated with the show since the very beginning on the Shopper's Bazaar pilot. The Free Play took the Extra Turn associated with the Free Spin but added the option to call a free vowel which was what almost everybody did when it was hit. Free Play was ousted from the first run of Celebrity episodes in 2021, and it was removed from the syndicated version in Season 39.
    • The Million Dollar Wedge has also gotten this from fans who liked the $10,000 wedge.
    • Crossword Puzzles with "blank" clues can be considered this for the former "Fill in the Blank" category, which functioned similarly but did not orient words vertically and awarded a bonus for identifying the common term rather than giving it at the outset.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Chuck Woolery was one-half of the One-Hit Wonder psychedelic rock duo The Avant-Garde ("Naturally Stoned"), and was a Country Music singer while hosting Wheel. Later, of course, he'd be famous for hosting Love Connection, Scrabble, Greed, and Lingo.
    • Pat Sajak was a disc jockey, and later a weatherman at KNBC in Los Angeles. He had hosted a few unsold game show pilots prior to taking over Wheel, one of which was a "Simon"-like game for Ralph Edwards called Press Your Luck (no relation to the game with the Whammy) and the 1980 Goodson-Todman pilot Puzzlers (which contained prototypes for elements of Blockbusters, Bumper Stumpers and Catchphrase {Steve Ryan created that pilot, Blockbusters and the puzzles for Catch Phrase}). Additionally, Pat had two brief scenes in the film Airplane II: The Sequel as a newscaster.
    • Rolf Benirschke was a retired place kicker for the San Diego Chargers, and had hosted at least a runthrough for another Griffin pilot called Winfall (at least one pilot was taped with Clint Holmes hosting, and CBS nearly picked it up until NBC canned Wheel and they chose that instead).
    • Bob Goen was the host of Blackout and a few other short-lived game shows; he would later become an Entertainment Tonight host.
    • David Sidoni was occasionally seen on Roundhouse, and later hosted a short-lived game show adaptation of Mad Libs.
    • Susan Stafford had very few onscreen roles except a guest appearance on a week of The Hollywood Squares in 2002. However, she was known at the time for her radio show and her marriage to Dick Ebersol, then the producer of Saturday Night Live and NBC's vice president of late-night programming, having met him through then NBC president and CEO Herbert Schlosser; later, Stafford worked as vice president of public relations at Jack Barry-Dan Enright Productions, in addition to becoming Dan Enright's companion for many years later on and even replacing Barry's name in the company with her own in 1991. She left Wheel voluntarily to do charity work in 1982, but briefly returned as a substitute in June 1986.
    • Post-Stafford substitutes included Summer Bartholomew (who had previously substituted in 1977 and '79 when Susan was unavailable) and Vicki McCarty. Bartholomew was a former Miss USA who would later co-host Sale of the Century, while McCarty is known as a Playboy playmate.
    • Pretty much the only notability Vanna White had before taking over was as a contestant on The Price Is Right (June 20, 1980). She also did some low-level acting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the TV movie Goddess of Love on NBC, Double Dragon (1994) and Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult.
    • Tamika Ray, who did the voice and mo-cap for "Cyber Lucy" on Wheel 2000, was the female co-host of Extra for several years.
    • Charlie O'Donnell was originally a DJ. He announced American Bandstand for many years, worked as a newscaster for Los Angeles TV station KCOP, and was the announcer on several Barry-Enright games (The Joker's Wild, Tic-Tac-Dough, Bullseye, Hot Potato) and in the late 1980s, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game.
    • Jack Clark announced on Password, The $25,000 Pyramid, Split Second (1972), and Eye Guess. He was also the host of The Cross Wits (which, like Pat Sajak's unsold Press Your Luck pilot, was a Ralph Edwards production).
    • Leonard Stone appeared as a contestant on Wheel and briefly talked about his experience with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory nearly three decades prior.
    • Voice actor Bob Bergen was a contestant during a 1980 Teen Week. He would later host Jep!, the sister show to Wheel 2000.
    • Alicia Witt was a contestant during a 1990 Teen Week, and played on a Celebrity Edition in 1997.'
    • Brian Palermo was a member of the production staff, and later a prize coordinator and special projects coordinator, before he landed a role as the English voice of Akihiro Kurata.
    • Rolling Stone journalist Ben Fong-Torres competed in 1993. One of his opponents was a then-unkown John Ducey, later a sitcom actor.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The Prize Puzzle. Many fans dislike it mainly for two reasons:
      • As mentioned above, the prize that the contestant wins for merely solving the puzzle often decides who wins the game.
      • The fact that the prize is (barring a scant few exceptions) always a trip generally leads to many puzzles having some kind of positive adjective and/or other inflation thrown into the puzzle just to make it seem longer, such as "EXCEPTIONAL WILDLIFE PRESERVES" or "MILES AND MILES OF PRISTINE COASTLINE". Sometimes, puzzles are even reused after a few years with just one or two words (often the adjectives) switched with something else. Since the addition of the Express Wedge, many puzzles are simply a positive adjective followed by a vacation-related noun, many of which are very arbitrary (e.g. CAPTIVATING SEAPORTS). The Prize Puzzle is also responsible for many "Phrase" puzzles being random grammatically-correct sentences about positivity or traveling, such as "WE WOULD LOVE TO GO WHALE-WATCHING".
    • The Crossword Puzzles, introduced during the final week of Season 33. It is disliked by fans most commonly for the following reasons:
      • The puzzles have a lower number of consonants than most other puzzles, especially with otherwise-multiple consonants being intersected and counted as one instance, often resulting in lower payouts.
      • There is usually at least one word in the puzzle that's trickier than the others due to having more obscure letters that can't be uncovered from the other words, and sometimes this word only barely fits the given clue. In a January 2017 episode, a puzzle with the clue "It's All Greek to Me" came down to _ETA for the last word. The contestant solved it as FETA, only to be buzzed despite the fitting word. The next contestant revealed the word as Greek letter BETA for the house minimum.
      • The fact that it almost-always appears three times per week meant less appearances of the show's more popular "word play" categories Before & After and Same Name. After many seasons of appearing in almost every episode, Before & After went over a month without being used at all in Season 35.
      • Some fans view it as a cheap Replacement Scrappy for Same Name or the former "Fill in the Blank" bonus category whenever the clue is something like "Sweet _____" or "_____ Machine". A January 2018 episode had an awkward situation where BLANK was actually one of the words under the clue "_____ Check". It doesn't help that many of these puzzles have a word that does not really fit the "blank" that well, such as OVEN for "Kitchen _____" on a November 2020 episode. The contestant who solved it called them out on this afterward.
    • The Million Dollar Wedge is hated by some fans, either for the $1,000,000 being way too hard to win, replacing the standard $100,000 top prize, or because of how some casual viewers of the show think the wedge is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. When somebody makes a bad blunder after picking up the wedge, social media will usually blow up about how the contestant "lost $1 million", as if the grand prize were at stake right then and there.
    • Starting in Season 32, many fans have hated the Rhyme Time category because it often results in a series of randomly-grouped words that just happen to rhyme, even if they are in no way related (e.g. BEES FLEAS & MANATEES, BABOONS AND RACCOONS). As of Season 34, even Pat has begun making fun of this. On Celebrity Wheel, Rhyme Times are almost-always sentences that involve a celebrity's name, such as "IN THE GARAGE WITH NICKI MINAJ", which are just as poorly received by fans.
    • If one has the Million Dollar Wedge, having Round 4 and beyond go without a Speed-Up since Bankrupt is still in play. It more or less hinges on the staff hoping Bankrupt would be hit, thus denying someone the opportunity to take the wedge to the Bonus Round. This is particularly obvious when Bankrupt does get hit and then the Final Spin bells sound immediately afterwards, especially if it's only one or two turns into Round 4.
    • In the Speed-Up round, if the puzzle gets to the point where the last remaining consonant is called, the players were not told that only vowels remain until the next player's turn. At least twice, contestants have given answers with unchosen consonants, only to be met with the "only vowels left" beeps after they get buzzed. One of these instances even affected who went to the Bonus Round. Thankfully, the staff got the hint; starting in Season 38, the beeps now sound immediately if a contestant calls the last available consonant in the Speed-Up.
    • Many fans dislike the "What Are You Wearing?" category introduced in Season 35, as even in the main game, it's usually a random pairing of a color and a type of clothing or accessory (such as BROWN CORDUROY or BRIGHT RED NAIL POLISH). It also seems to confirm the show's contemporary bias toward female contestants, as most of the puzzles are something that would usually be worn by a woman.
    • The placement of letters in Toss-Up puzzles is seemingly random, but there are moments where letters appear in words that are already obvious to the contestants and the home audience. It becomes grating when everybody has to wait for help on the other words before deciding whether or not to ring in. One example is FINE WINE from September 19, 2008: the W in WINE was the last letter to be revealed, and the puzzle went unsolved. WKRP in Cincinnati from May 28, 2018 also went unsolved, thanks to the K being the last letter to show. Yet another case was VIKING HELMET on January 17, 2022 where the V was the last missing letter.
    • On Wheel 2000, the house minimum for a round was 500 points, but only if the player solved for 200 or less. Solving for 250-450 banked that amount.
    • On all Australian and New Zealand versions, the biggest gameplay change was the removal of the show's well-known rule that the dollar amount spun is multiplied by the number of times the chosen consonant appears in the puzzle. In these versions, the amount was only awarded once regardless of how often it appears, making the game far less exciting when someone called a high multiple. The only exception was a red letter that awarded double the spin's value when revealed.
    • On Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, the Triple Toss-Up is played after Round 2 instead of Round 3, removing the regular show's guarantee of every player getting to start at least one round. This can result in one player never even getting a turn for the entire game, especially in the first half, since that game strictly has three full rounds with no Final Spin. This happened with Cheryl Burke on the Season 2 premiere, who did not even get to touch the Wheel until Round 2 of the second game.
    • Also on Celebrity Wheel is the bonus for solving a puzzle. A successful solve in Round 1 gets $5,000 added to whatever was won, which bumps up to $10,000 in Round 2 and $20,000 for Rounds 3 and above. There have been numerous games where the $20,000 bonus was an automatic game winner, similar to the Prize Puzzle, and some of the more level-headed celebs have forgone spinning in favor of solving right then and there.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Chuck/Susan. Although both were actively in other relationships at the time, their on-screen chemistry and a few of his weirder comments toward her both brought up this Trope.
    • Pat/Vanna. Again, they were in other relationships, but this came up far more often than it did during the Chuck/Susan heyday. Most notable are the infamous kiss on Pat's last daytime show (preceded by his "come here, baby") and his comment to Bob Goen on the first CBS show ("be good to Vanna"). This was later referenced in-show, in a 1997 bit that had Vanna outright addressing - and denying - that the two were married, while she sewed up an outfit and Pat read a newspaper.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • From 1989-96, the nighttime version had a three-day champion rule. Early on, the contestant's cumulative total would be shown on their backdrop, which could hold five digits. One particularly lucky contestant early in Season 7 got north of $100,000 before her third Bonus Round, so Pat taped a "$1" to her backdrop. On an episode from later in the same season, they just put the contestant's total on a chyron instead.
    • The puzzle boards... hoo boy.
      • With the trilon board, the "ding" would not always sound at the exact time a trilon lights up. Other times, the buzzer would sound instead.
      • Both Susan and Vanna have turned a letter too far, causing the plastic sheet with the letter in it to slide partially off the trilon. note 
      • In an early Season 2 episode, the first F in the puzzle FRANKFURTERS AND SAUERKRAUT lit up when it wasn't supposed to, and the crew couldn't shut it off, so Pat told everyone multiple times to disregard the lit letter. To Vanna's credit, she didn't turn it around until a contestant called F.
      • For some weeks (on both daytime and nighttime) in 1989, some of the O's in puzzles were quite odd-looking; they were rounder and clearly didn't match the rest of the letters. These were actually zeroes. While numbers were never used on the trilon board on the show proper, they were sometimes used for promotional pictures.
      • Played straight on the Season 14 premiere; when the I would not light up in the Round 1 puzzle TEMPTING OFFER, Pat told Vanna to turn it anyway. About 2 seconds after she turned the trilon, it lit up.
      • On a San Francisco episode in late 1996, the board's lights went out entirely when a contestant called B. Vanna waited a few seconds and then turned the B's anyway. When the contestant solved, the board remained off and did not do its usual flashing.
      • Played with on the first episode of the electronic board. Vanna uses the bonus puzzle to demonstrate how the new board works. Pat then tries in vain to light up a letter, even going so far as to hit the board. Vanna then leans in and touches the monitor, and it lights up. (The monitors have to be touched on the right-hand border to activate, although knowing Pat he was probably touching the wrong side on purpose.)
      • Incidentally, Vanna has had a few problems with letters randomly refusing to light up on the electronic board, including an episode only three months after its introduction where she hit the monitor with her fist before it finally cooperated.
      • When a Toss-Up or round begins, the blanks are revealed from top to bottom and left to right, in that order. Sometimes, one or more of the blanks would not appear until about a half second later.
      • In the Bonus Round of a 2013 episode, Vanna was prepared for the puzzle to appear on two rows. It ended up appearing entirely on one row, making it wider. Vanna quickly backed up to the edge of the board as she gestured.
    • Until the mid-1990s, the show made frequent use of an applause machine, which led to obviously-canned "ooh"s whenever a prize was shown, "aww"s whenever someone hit Bankrupt or Lose A Turn, or exaggerated gasps if someone came close to the top dollar value. In some rounds, it was painfully obvious that the same tracks were being recycled (such as the "aww" track on the clip at That One Level below). And on at least one occasion, they used the "children's" track on the applause machine by mistake. A different applause machine (the same one used during the last few years of The Hollywood Squares) is used today, mainly because the Culver City audiences can't be arsed to show any sort of enthusiasm no matter how much the seal trainers try. They since use said machine sparingly, leading to some lackluster audience responses...but at least it's natural.
      • On current episodes (that aren't taped on location), it's usually obvious that any "aww"s heard after a regular puzzle is solved incorrectly or an unsolved bonus puzzle is revealed are added in post-production. Sometimes, Pat's jokes are followed by obviously-dubbed laugh tracks as well.
    • On a March 2014 episode, a contestant landed on a ½ Car tag, but the Bankrupt slide whistle began to sound by mistake.
  • Squick: On November 2, 2001, a contestant had the puzzle __STARD-FILLED _H___LATE E_LAIR. He decided to solve and said MUSTARD-FILLED CHOCOLATE ECLAIR. Pat paused while ruling him incorrect to drive the point across.note 
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • The 1974 pilots used Maynard Ferguson's "Give It One" for the theme. When the show made it to air, it used an Alan Thicke composition called "Big Wheels", which had a rather similar melody, production, and chord pattern.
      • A Thicke commercial outro cue used from 1979-83 sounded very close to The Guess Who's "Temptation Eyes".
    • The French-Canadian version, La Roue Chanceuse, used one of "Changing Keys".
    • The new theme, introduced in 2017, sounds very similar to "Wild Wild West" by The Escape Club.
    • The toss-up music from 2021 sounds similar to "Corridors of Time" from Chrono Trigger.
  • That One Level:
    • A Round 3 puzzle of SQUEAKING BY from October 1986. It remains the only known time where every single consonant was called. It was re-used over 20 years later, this time in the Bonus Round.
    • A Round 1 puzzle of DESE DEM AND DOSE GUYS from October 1989. Adding to that is when the puzzle was revealed entirely; the contestant mispronounced the first word as "desi" twice, after which Pat clearly indicated he wanted to move on by accepting the solve anyway.
      • To top that off, Round 2 was also revealed entirely before it was solved (although correctly this time), causing the opening segment to last for almost 13 minutes.
    • October 1, 1992: The answer was a particularly devious puzzle of TWO STATES STARTING WITH V, and only the V was missing. It took eight turns to reveal said V, and one of the contestants who called a wrong letter looked royally pissed when one of his opponents finally filled it in.
    • Similarly to the above, BEVELED GLASS JAW on October 26, 1995 saw eight consecutive lost turns with only the J and W missing.
    • Megaword, which lasted for a mere six-and-a-half months (September 1994-April 1995), and for good reason. In one particularly excruciating example (March 15, 1995), it took ten spins just to get a letter on the board, the Wheel changed hands more than twenty times (including three Bankrupts), and every consonant except J was called before the puzzle OXIDIZED was finally solved. Pat has even gone on record saying that Megaword was a bad idea.
    • Up until the mid-1990s or so, it wasn't rare for Round 1 and/or the last round to be a short answer with few common consonants, often leading to very long stretches of wrong letters. Particularly painful examples include GIMME A BUZZ in 1989 and OZ DOG in 1993, both of which saw thirteen wrong letters called in total (in the former's case, the first thirteen were all in a row).
    • Sometimes the Bonus Round can be this, especially when they use a tricky answer that would be nearly impossible to figure out unless you're crazy enough to try calling something like Z. (Not that someone doesn't occasionally thwart it by, say, picking Z-J-W-I and solving JIGSAW PUZZLE.)
      • Phrase, Thing(s), Living Thing(s), and What Are You Doing? are particularly the most dreaded categories in the Bonus Round, because they're the most at risk to be about anything. The first three usually have an adjective that includes few if any of the consonants more likely to be called, and the latter's Complacent Gaming Syndrome has contestants wasting their picks on the given G and/or I. Expect fans to groan when three of these are offered as choices to a winning contestant.
    • Any puzzle where one word has no letters in common with any of the others. On October 3, 2002, they actually used two such puzzles (BOW STERN RUDDER & MAST and ZIP CODE OF CONDUCT).
    • The Crossword Puzzles are often guilty of having one word that has no letters in common with the others, which often results in that word being the last one to be figured out. Because of this, rounds with Crossword puzzles are often solved for the house minimum due to the Wheel changing hands after the bulk of the work is done.
  • That One Rule:
    • Puzzles always have to be solved exactly as they appear on the board. If a contestant is ruled wrong in any way (such as the one who mispronounced REGIS PHILBIN & KELLY RIPA in 2010 despite the entire answer being filled in), or drops a letter due to their dialect (e.g., one who left the G out of SEVEN SWANS A-SWIMMING in 2012), the news media (and sometimes the contestants themselves) will have a media blitz. Likewise with Crossword rounds, where the hard and fast rule is "say everything, don't add anything"; multiple contestants have slipped "and" between the last two words and therefore gotten ruled incorrect, thus leading to heated discussions about whether or not adding "and" goes against the nature of the game.
    • When solving a Toss-Up, Speed-Up, or Bonus Round puzzle, hesitating for too long between words is generally ruled as an invalid solve, although the show has been inconsistent on these rulings. The first known case of this happened in 1985 when a contestant's solve of THE LOVE BOAT was interrupted by the buzzer. The judges ruled that he took too long of a pause between the second and third words (about a second in length), and he had to begin saying the answer in its entirety before time expired. On October 22, 2013, a contestant paused for about three quarters of a second before saying the last word of the bonus puzzle IT'S OUT OF THE WAY, and it was also ruled a loss. Later episodes have had contestants pause for as long as two and a half seconds before saying the last word and it was immediately ruled a win, while other instances have had Pat prompt them to repeat the whole puzzle all at once before giving them the win. This rule reared its ugly head on December 21, 2021 where a contestant lost a car when pausing for nearly five seconds between the last two words of CHOOSING THE RIGHT WORD, and did not repeat the whole answer afterwards in the fraction of a second still left on the clock, causing so much outcry that Audi themselves decided to give her the car she lost.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • When the show moved to CBS in July 1989, adopting the "play for cash" format the nighttime show had used since October 1987, the budget was slashed significantly: $50 and $75 spaces littered the Rounds 1-2 layout (sporting diamonds after the premiere episode), the highest amount was $1,250, and the bonus round featured such prizes as subcompact cars and $5,000 cash. To compensate, the show lowered the cost of a vowel to $200 when the run began, and in Spring 1990 lowered it further to a paltry $100. To the show's credit, $50 and $75 were gone within the first two months, and bigger prizes became available as the Goen era progressed. (Along with phone-in contests.)
    • There isn't much love for the theme music package introduced during the first week of 2017. Many fans of the show think that the new theme sounds like it belongs on a Telemundo show, that the other cues lack the "punch" of the previous ones, and that the Speed-Up music sounds like something from a porno. Even worse, these music cues were retroactively dubbed into Saturday reruns.
      • And yet, when they brought back the classic "Changing Keys" theme in a modernized form in 2021, social media got flooded with complaints from viewers who hated the "new" theme and wanted them to reinstate the "old" one. This was in contrast to the largely positive reaction from longtime fans. Guess you can't please everyone.
    • Many longtime fans dislike the increased amount of product placement, which results in long Enforced Plugs in every episode. The Eggland's Best Mystery Round and the T-Mobile Triple Toss-Up are the two biggest examples of this. In recent years, even the Bonus Round has a sponsor.
    • Aussie Wheel on July 15, 1996. Not only did Tony Barber replace John Burgess, AND the show moved from Adelaide, South Australia (which had been the show's home since its debut in 1981) to Sydney, New South Wales, but there were several changes to the show as well, including...
      • A new theme song (which was thankfully scrapped after five weeks).
      • The retirement of shopping, and scores essentially became just points, although solving a puzzle awarded a prize.
      • A toss-up question (not a Toss-Up puzzle) determined control of the Wheel at the start of the game.
      • Landing on BANKRUPT completely set your score back to zero, even if you solved a puzzle in a prior round. At least this change only affected score and not prizes that were won.
      • The "Golden Wheel" was replaced with the five envelopes format from the American version, which also lasted only five weeks.
      • Season 31 introduced the Express Wedge. This wedge rewards the player who lands on it with $1,000 per consonant, much to the despair of other players. It also requires the player to solve the puzzle without incorrectly guessing a letter; otherwise, they go bankrupt.
  • This Is Your Premise on Drugs: Hangman meets roulette, on steroids. Maybe a touch of LSD, as colorful as the set got in the late 1980s or so.
  • Values Dissonance: Fur coats were offered as prizes until 1990 when PETA insisted that they stop. Wheel doesn't have the same level of Old Shame about it that The Price Is Right does, largely because no hosts on Wheel have been as involved with animal rights.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: In addition to the infamous Rolf Benirschke as mentioned above, Chuck Woolery was a debatable example at the time, as he was a struggling Country Music singer with minimal TV experience. However, he proved to be a great host right out of the gate, and has since become a genre veteran with several well-known shows to his credit such as Scrabble, Love Connection, the late-1990s version of The Dating Game, Greed, and Lingo.

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