Top 10 Most Popular Game Shows in TV History

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Game shows are as American as homemade apple pie.   They are a testament of time, in the televised broadcasting world, where the first such shows appeared in the thirties.  With the overall components that are compiled to make a game show function, the finished product is always great to watch.  Everything from the hosts, contestants, props, and prizes, these shows have something for all.  Game shows have evolved during the times – they have deeper competition ideas and higher prize money to obtain.  Since the nineties, GSN, a game show channel, has had a number of personally created game shows, such as Catch 21 and Bingo America, and have also aired some classic game shows like Family Feud and The $100,000 Pyramid.  Here is a top ten list of the best game shows that have come across our screens over the years.  (**and, a rogue editor’s corresponding videos of the worst moments in game show history)

10.  Wheel…of…FORTUNE!

The number ten spot goes to the game show known around the globe as Wheel of Fortune.  It is a game show that shows a phrase to the contestants, which they then have to guess the letters to until they can solve the puzzle.  It is hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White.

Best Moment?

The best moment of the series came in 2008, when Michelle Lowenstein was the first player to win the top prize of one million dollars.  All the requirements of winning the highest prize had to be matched in order to win the million.  This included winning the million dollar spot during the normal round of the game, spinning the bonus wheel and picking the correct envelope, and correctly solving the final puzzle.  She did all of these things.

And FAIL:

9.  Is That Your Final Answer?  Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?

Who Wants to be a Millionaire is a completely solid concept of a game show, and deserves a spot among the top ten greatest game shows.  Contestants would play a fast fingered question to try and earn a spot in the hot seat. This contestant would then try to answer trivia questions one at a time, until reaching the million dollar question. The show is famous for the tagline, “Is that your final answer?”  Who Wants to be a Millionaire also has three lifelines that the contestant can use at any time during the game. They are, ask the audience, phone a friend, and fifty-fifty (where two of the four choices to a question was eliminated).

Best Moment?

The game show was a major part of the plot in the Academy Award winning film, Slumdog Millionaire.  The crown jewel of moments in the game show was when the first million dollar winner had all his lifelines still in tack, and wanted to call his parents, to let them know he just won the million dollars, as he knew the answer to the final question.

and…some bloopers:

8.  The Secret Password Is…

Password makes the list at number eight. It was a show where players had to guess a word that was known as the secret password, after hearing only a single clue about that word.  Correct answers would result in a cash prize.

Best Moment?

The moment of moments in the show was when Betty White and Allen Ludden showed the audience they were together when doing their sendoff on one of the episodes. ED note: This actually happened on Match Game. But here are some nice Password Betty White clips:

7.  Let’s Make a Deal!

Decision-making at its finest, Let’s Make a Deal is a game show that was first hosted by Monty Hall, and is now hosted by Wayne Brady.  Contestants would have to decide which deal to take – the deal behind door number one, door number two, and door number three.  The prize could be cash or a car, or a booby prize.  The Big Deal is the final prize portion of the game.

Best Moment?

In the old days Monty Hall would shout out the names of random items.  If an audience member happened to have that item with them (red lipstick, a wooden nickle, etc.) Monty would give them some cold hard cash.

And a blooper or two:

6.  Match Game

Match Game comes in at number six, on the list. This game had a fill in the blank format where the contestants had to match the answers that the celebrity panelists would write down.  The winning player would then try to match a single panelist to win a cash prize.  The show was mainly hosted by Gene Rayburn.  A familiar running tagline from the show was the audience asking Gene, “How dumb was he?” after he would begin a questions of relevant context.

Best moment?

The show’s funniest moment was when Gene Rayburn and Richard Dawson made a bet of a dollar on the number one answer to a question, and Richard Dawson won.

Dawson has a not-so-good moment:

Deal or No Deal?

The concept of merely picking numbers and then walking away with a whole lot of money is the main reason why this game show, hosted by Howie Mandel, made the list.  The rules are simple.  Pick an initial case.  Pick more cases.  Listen to bank offers, and then press a button.  The contestant would be accompanied by a group of friends and family who would discuss an offer throughout the game.

Best Moment?

The greatest moment was when the first contestant won the top prize of one million dollars.

Bad moment:

4.  Two Families Enter.  One Family Stays.  Family Fued

Family Feud is a game show that puts two families up against one another.  They are asked a survey question and are expected to give the most popular answers.  Whichever family wins the main three rounds of the game gets to stay to play the Fast Money portion, where there is a chance of winning $20,000.00.  “Survey Says?”

Best Moment?

A great episode was when the superstars and divas of the WWE came for a week to battle it out.

Not so good:

3.  Come on Down!  The Price is Right

This classic game show has contestants guessing the price of an item to win prizes.  It was created in the fifties but became a classic hit in the seventies with lovable host Bob Barker.  Some of the popular games played on the show are Cliff Hangers, Clock Game, and Plinko.  Two contestants would make their way to play the Showcase Showdown, where they could win the ultimate prize package.  Today, the show is hosted by Drew Carey.

Best Moment?

One of the greatest moments of The Price is Right, according to most, is when a female had a certain wardrobe malfunction while running from the studio audience to Contestant’s Row.

Like we need a “bad moment” after that?

2.  Pyramid

At first it was the $10,000 Pyramid.   Eventually it was the $100,000 Pyramid.  In its heyday it was hosted by Dick Clark.  The concept was like playing a vocal version of charades, or like playing a game of Catchphrase, but with celebrities.  Two contestants would be paired up with two guest celebrities.  The celebrities would try to win the game for their respective contestant and make their way to the Winner’s Circle round, where they tried to help their contestant win the grand prize.

Best Moment?

The show had some great moments, but two were the very best.  In the first great moment, the two teams had completed their sets of words in the same amount of time, resulting in a tie breaker round.  That lead to a second tie breaker round.  That had never happened before!  In the second great moment, albeit unfortunate, was when a contestant thought he he had won, but after the commercial break was informed that he hadn’t.  Dick Clark even broke out a dictionary to prove it.

And a not so good Pyramid Moment:

1.  This.  Is.  Jeopardy!

Jeopardy is a trivia game show, established in the sixties. Currently, it is hosted by Alex Trebek. The game is played by three contestants, with the return of a previous winner, and a group of categories of answers that are given for their respective questions made by the contestants. The show has won their share of daytime Emmys, with eleven. The show is a pop culture icon, appearing in a number of films. Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day, knew the answers to the episode they were watching, because he was living the same day over and over. In White Men Can’t Jump, Rosie Perez’s character wanted to appear on the show, and eventually did. Joe Pesci and Danny Glover’s characters in Gone Fishin’ tried to answer the questions, only to get them wrong. And the most memorable movie to equate Jeopardy with itself was in the film, Men in Black, when Will Smith’s character said sarcastically, “Uh…wait, that was on Final Jeopardy last night.”

Best Moment?

The best moment on Jeopardy! came when returning contestant Ken Jennings continued to return to the game, seventy four times, to win the most cash prize on the show. This simple trivia concept game show takes the number one spot.

AND…some bad Trebek moments:

LANGUAGE WARNING!

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List by Garrett Smedley


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10 Comments

  1. "The game show was a major part of the plot in the Academy Award winning film, Slumdog Millionaire. The crown jewel of moments in the movie was when the first million dollar winner had all his lifelines still in tack (wrong), and wanted to call his parents (who were both dead), to let them know he just won the million dollars, as he knew the answer to the final question."

    You never even watched Slumdog Millionaire or you would know how incredibly wrong that description is. Ugh!

  2. Thank you for your interest in the article. The editor mistakenly changed the word “Game” to “Movie” in the paragraph. The paragraph (minus the first sentence) was talking about a moment in the actual game show “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” Where a contestant wins the grand prize by first calling his parents before giving the final answer.

  3. My mistake, thanks for clearing that up, that's an impressive feat then. I've not watched the game show very often, but I know those later questions are really tough.

  4. Great list!! I love it!! I agree with all your picks except Deal or No Deal. I think What's My Line? should be somewhere in the top ten instead of Deal or No Deal. I am glad you put Jeopardy! number 1. Jeopardy! has always been number 1 in my book. Good job, with one minor complaint.

  5. Deal or No Deal should be bumped as it is purely luck. It is the kind of "game show" you'd see in a Las Vegas casino.

    A better choice for that spot might have been Hollywood Squares FTW. It played host to so many celebrities over the years and gave us the catch phrases "… for the block" and of course "…for the win"

  6. Good list, I agree with most of the shows on here, if not their placement. Pyramid’s a bit high and WoF’s a bit low, and DoND probably shouldn’t be here at all (replace with Hollywood Squares, perhaps?)

  7. in terms of just the game, i enjoyed watching “Split Second” back in the 70s, hosted by Tom Kennedy. no celebs, just 3 people trying to answer trivia questions that had 3 parts, each player to give 1 answer. cash was awarded based upon how many of the 3 players gave a correct answer. the highest grossing player in 2 rounds was given a big advantage in the final round but still had to win that one too. the winner of the final round was then given a key and if it started the car the player picked from 5 new cars–every day s/he repeated winning against 2 other players, the number of cars was reduced by one–s/he won the car!

    nice list, i enjoyed reading it, but Hollywood Squares definitely belongs on it! possibly number 1 in my opinion.

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