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  3. This round was also the first appearance of the Prize wedge, albeit differently to its successor, as it was placed back on the Wheel if a contestant picked it up and hit Bankrupt. The winner of this round played a Bonus Round where s/he chose from Easy, Medium, Hard, or Difficult, which corresponded to the puzzle's difficulty.:
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The former was left in the episode, while the latter was edited out and replaced with a new Toss-Up which was solved.

Alternatively, it can be taken to the Bonus Round, where it allows for a fourth consonant. For its first season, Pat frequently forgot that the Wild Card is lost to Bankrupt, and would often forget to take it back until several turns later. This was most notable in a Teen Best Friends Week show in January , where a team kept it into the Bonus Round despite having hit Bankrupt while holding it, although they did not solve the bonus puzzle.

In Seasons , the Wild Card was unique in that it was the only extra wedge or token that remained available after Round 3. Since Season 26, it is removed after that round. Originally, contestants tended to use the Wild Card on random dollar amounts as opposed to almost always using it on the top dollar value. If a contestant hits the top dollar amount while holding the card, Pat often prompts them to use it.

Starting in Season 30, he occasionally prompts contestants to use it on random amounts in Round 4, most often if the contestants are trailing. It seems that for most of the card's life, players could only use the Wild Card immediately after calling a consonant. By Season 31, using it after buying a vowel for the amount they previously spun became inconsistently allowed. When the Wild Card used in the Bonus Round, the fourth letter provided by it is called after the "three more consonants and a vowel".

On the chyron, the Wild Card letter is revealed by a graphic of the card turning. When the wedge debuted, it used a noticeably thinner font and its reverse was blank.

From this point onward, it was placed upside-down on the contestant's arrow whenever claimed. For its last season, the numbers on the reverse were given white outlines.

Initially, the wedge was introduced in Round 3 and stayed on the Wheel until claimed. In Season 14, it was only in play during Round 2, and moved back to Round 3 in Season 18 and as before, was removed after the round, even if unclaimed.

Beginning in Season 20, it was only available in Round 1. It is also believed that, during the Big Money Week of May 29, , it was placed upside-down and used as the top dollar value for Round 4 of at least the Friday episode.

On November 6, , it was accidentally placed on the Wheel for Round 2 and won; as a result, it remained for Round 3 as well.

Its reverse featured a graphic corresponding to the prize that it offered, and Pat would describe the prize if it was claimed.

If it was landed on, the wedge was "enhanced" by a graphic effect that highlighted it with a yellow glow. Its cash values were not multiplied by the letter. For the first week of taping only, its amounts were treated as prizes, but for the rest of the season, any money won with it could be spent on vowels.

Initially, the Big Money Wedge was a sparkly yellowish-green with a magenta readout. On October 29, it was overhauled to royal blue with five vertical rows of red dots and a lighter blue readout, a design that was recycled in Season 26 for the final Jackpot wedge.

From the Shopper's Bazaar pilot through at least September 5, , contestants could buy vowels at their discretion provided they had enough to do so, making the wedge redundant. Given this and the fact the pilots added the wedge in Round 2, it would seem the purpose of Buy A Vowel which was never hit in the first two pilots was to be the "impulse buy" that could backfire.

Other than this, it is one of the most uncertain elements in the show's history, with recollections being contradictory on every aspect including the above:. During , Milton Bradley released two board game adaptations which use the following rules for Buy A Vowel:.

While this would allow for the aforementioned contradictions, it is not known whether Milton Bradley was reflecting a rule change or "patched" what the company saw as a format hole and if so, whether the show itself even adopted these changes while simultaneously opening another.

Given the common practice of recycling game parts, it is also unknown whether the wedge was actually still in use when the Second Edition was released later that year. It is not quite known when Buy A Vowel was retired, with various accounts having claimed it lasted anywhere from the first few episodes up until the end of It is known to have been present through at least September 5, which still has contestants able to buy vowels at their discretion without landing on it.

The Milton Bradley games have the wedge coexisting with a Wheel layout that has no two-digit values, indicating that it at least survived that long.

Wheel returned , , , , , and 2, to the Wheel as point values, with 2, being top value for Round 2. It was never hit, with four of the shows that week having Round 4 begin as a Speed-Up. Exactly why it has never been used in gameplay is unknown. Again, this layout did not appear on the show proper. A post-production shot of the latter position occurred during Round 2. If Double Play was used before hitting Bankrupt or Lose A Turn, the penalty had no additional effect but the token was not returned.

The official rules stated that landing on a Prize wedge, Surprise, or Free Spin gave that player the choice of taking the token back or applying it to their next spin.

Unlike most other "extras", but similar to the Star Bonus , the Double Play was not lost if a contestant hit Bankrupt while holding it. A Free Spin could be used at any time after a contestant lost a turn, or saved for later. The wedge introduced in originally had white outlines like the other three special spaces, which was removed sometime between January 6 and mid-October The more familiar green design, with "SPIN" in the center and "Free" on the top and bottom in yellow script, was introduced on July 17, It was most likely changed to a single disc to prevent contestants from gaining unfair advantages by turning in multiple Free Spins, or banking multiple discs that never got used.

Originally, the Free Spin token was claimed like Prize wedges being immediately removed and a letter called for the value underneath , which changed sometime between September 11 and December 25, to require a correct letter first.

Also in this timespan, the disc was available in the first three rounds instead of the first two rounds. As the wedge was hit about five times no more than twice in a single round , it is not known what happened if it was landed on after all vowels in the puzzle were revealed. While Free Vowel was dropped from the format after Bazaar , it returned 36 years later as part of Free Play. It was treated as a Prize wedge, and the money won with it could not be spent on vowels or in shopping rounds.

Strangely, the wedge was not used during themed weeks. The Jackpot was likely introduced to help distinguish the two versions, as they were near-identical at the beginning of Season 4 and would remain so until early Season 5.

An onscreen display throughout the round showed how much was in the Jackpot. To claim it, the contestant had to land on the wedge, call a right letter, and solve — all within the same turn.

Initially, the Jackpot was in Round 3, but moved to Round 2 from May , a change that became official at the beginning of Season In Season 27, it moved to Round 1. When the Jackpot was won, fireworks exploded across the top of the screen. Prior to , fireworks "exploded" on the Jackpot display before transforming into twinkling stars. The Jackpot wedge had twelve distinct appearances over its lifetime, more than any other, with four designs in its first season and three more in its second; the eleventh design its last before it recycled the housing of the Big Money Wedge can be seen at Sony Studios' Wheel Hall of Fame.

Can you solve it? Stay tuned for the correct answer. A short, partially-filled puzzle with category shown before the intro.

While it was shown, Vanna would mention it through the above voiceover; after she and Pat walked out, she revealed its answer. The Preview Puzzle is unique in that it had no bearing on the game whatsoever, and was entirely for the home audience. It was most likely an attempt to provide more play-along factors for viewers.

Also, for the Retro Week of December 27, the Preview Puzzle was a freeze-frame shot of a partially-filled puzzle on an episode using the trilon-era puzzle board, with the answer revealed by Vanna on the current board, again using the exact same arrangement of the puzzle and the partially-filled puzzle already filled in.

The concept of the Preview Puzzle was reworked in Season 30, becoming a regular feature: Introduced on June 12, and made permanent on September 21, Puzzler was an "extra" puzzle done most often after Round 1 or 2, but it occurred in Round 3 at least once. The Puzzler answer was related to the puzzle immediately before it, with the category and about half of the letters revealed.

If the Puzzler was in Round 1, this typically meant that Round 1's answer would be extremely short usually under 10 letters , sometimes resulting in the Puzzler being longer than the answer it preceded.

Oddly, Puzzlers almost always used only one line, even if they were the type of puzzle that would normally use two. Strangely, the Puzzler appears to have debuted on the last show of Season 15, only to disappear for the first two weeks of Season Puzzles that could occur at any time during the main game, in any category. To aid the contestant, the rest of the letters in the puzzle were turned off.

The show also held an annual home viewer sweepstakes with similar puzzles, where viewers could submit the word spelled out by the colored letters for a chance at winning a prize:. August 28, - June 7, "If you win today, we're gonna retire you as a champ.

Another well-known retired element. While early documents of Shopper's Bazaar shown briefly on the show's E! True Hollywood Story in mentioned returning champions, Chuck states following the Shopper's Special that there would be three new players "tomorrow". When Wheel debuted in , contestants could stay on for up to five days; this was reduced to three sometime between June 7, and July 5, A notable exception is the winner of Benirschke's last show June 30, , who did not return for Goen's debut on July The nighttime show originally did not use returning champions, adopting the concept when it moved to Television City in September The element was replaced from by the Friday Finals, where the three highest-scoring players from Monday-Thursday returned to compete again.

If the winner of that show won the Bonus Round, they received an extra prize. The winner of the Season 13 finale returned for her third appearance on September 4, but nothing was said about her returning. In September , the show returned to one-and-done for all contestants.

Pat Sajak explained on the Sony Rewards website that this change was made because the most skilled players are not always the big winners: Returning to one-and-done has resulted in several contestants winning the game, only to lose the Bonus Round and leave with very little to show for their efforts. Until sometime between August 28, and the end of , contestants could try out for the show following their initial appearance: There are a lot of people who want to spin the Wheel!

At least three episodes two in Season 6, and April 2, have featured contestants who were brought back due to an unexplained technical error on their previous episodes, and it is very likely that others have returned for similar reasons.

Gift certificates do not include sales tax. Arguably the most famous retired element. The Shopper's Bazaar pilot used an "Accounting Department": The pilots introduced the more familiar setup where players could spend their winnings on prizes in a showcase.

Probably when the series landed, and definitely by July 15, , the contestants put the showcases in a order before the show; if that player solved a puzzle, they spent their money at the showcase they put as 1, with subsequent solves by the same player using the second and third platforms respectively. By the All-Star Dream Machine week in early , this was changed to simply have the show order the platforms and basically "tie" them to each of the first three puzzles.

Shopping was unofficially retired from nighttime on October 5, with the Big Month of Cash, an experimental format change that seamlessly became permanent, while daytime kept it through June Contestants could put money "on account" anytime during a shopping round, which allowed the money to carry over to the next round at the risk of being lost to Bankrupt.

From at least July 15, onward, the winnings could also be placed on a gift certificate if a contestant did not have enough money left over to buy another prize; as a result, almost every contestant chose the gift certificate.

It is believed that even before this change, any remaining money that the contestant who solved the final puzzle had was placed on a gift certificate. If this was the case, it is not known to have been stated on-air.

It should be noted that contestants did not have to spend all of their winnings on prizes, and could choose to put winnings on account without buying anything. One known instance of a contestant immediately placing all winnings on account without buying a prize occurred on January 18, Probably the most fondly-remembered part of the shopping rounds is the ceramic Dalmatian, which began to be offered around and became the show's mascot by March In the years since, it has become a semi-cultural icon associated with Wheel: At least on Wheel , as opposed to the manufacturer, the Dalmatian's name is Sheldon.

A special Wheel prize present throughout the entire game. It was claimed identically to the other Prize wedges, but the prize was not revealed until after the contestant won it. For its first week, Surprise used a far thinner font similar to Helvetica; both it and the subsequent version used through the end of Season 13 used heavy black text on a pink background.

For unknown reasons, some episodes in Seasons used a second Prize in Round 3 in lieu of Surprise. The wedge was also absent during the Season 15 premiere week, taped at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus; as most of the episodes that week ran to only three rounds, a second Prize did not replace it.

Surprise was retired at the end of Season 15, and was essentially replaced in September by a second Wheel prize in Round 3. During its last season, the wedge was redone for Happy Holidays Week to include a gift box. When claimed and won, the box was opened to reveal a card that read "I've won name of prize. Tell me about it, Charlie! Although never confirmed to be true, it is rumored that the Surprise would be the same prize until won, then be replaced with another prize. September A single wedge on the Shopper's Bazaar pilot that activated the rotary phone in front of the contestants.

The player who landed on it picked up the phone and received the puzzle's category Person, Place, or Thing from announcer Mike Lawrence. If that player landed on Your Own Clue again, Lawrence gave her a more detailed clue although this never came into play ; if another contestant landed on the space for the first time, she started from the first clue.

There are only two known references, albeit indirectly, to Your Own Clue since then: Much later, the "Call Waiting" stunt on Wheel consisted of phones that gave clues. Chuck Woolery also mentioned it during a FOX internet chat during the run of Greed , also the only known time he has name-dropped Shopper's Bazaar.

September Used only on the Shopper's Bazaar pilot, the puzzle was the name of the prize the contestant was playing for. The winner was shown all vowels in the puzzle, then had 30 seconds to give one correct consonant and solve the puzzle. While this particular format was only used in , the concept was eventually recycled into the Prize Puzzle albeit much less straightforward most of the time. While details on the hour-long format are sketchy, it is believed that three contestants competed in the first half-hour and three more in the second half-hour.

The two winners then drew a category from a bowl and played a final round, which included a Prize wedge similar to the current one except that it was put back on the Wheel if lost to Bankrupt. The winner of that round is believed to have played a Bonus Round identical to the Star Bonus rules, below. It could not be lost to Bankrupt nor forfeited by failing to solve that round's puzzle, and landing on it resulted in a short trumpet fanfare playing. In the Star Bonus Round, the contestant chose one of four prizes, with the difficulty of the puzzle corresponding to the prize's value Easy, Medium, Hard, Difficult.

The puzzle was shown, and the player chose four consonants and a vowel. There are three known instances of the Star Bonus being played: Star Bonus was likely retired for several reasons, the most obvious being that there was no guarantee it would be played: The prizes designated for the Star Bonus were marked by stars, but could be purchased during normal shopping rounds; this allowed come-from-behind wins to be negated The token's duration is uncertain: The only known reference in contemporary media is on a Match Game episode taped in May or June aired June December 18, - September 30, The most familiar Bonus Round has been in place since at least the week of December 14, it was called the "Christmas Wish Bonus" that week, so it is highly likely that it was introduced then.

Originally, the contestant was provided a blank puzzle and a category, and asked for five consonants and a vowel. As with the Star Bonus, the winner originally played from their spot at the contestant area. The current setup, where the winner stands in front of the Wheel, was introduced sometime between December 28, and June 18, It is believed that the week of December 14, was a "test run" of sorts — while no Bonus Round was played on the 25th, it would have looked very out-of-place if it had been used the rest of that week.

Most authors cite the 28th Pat's first show as its debut, which is untrue in the general sense but almost certainly the date it became a permanent fixture. Originally, contestants could pick any prize marked with a gold star to play for in the Bonus Round, which sometimes resulted in playing for a fairly inexpensive item such as a piece of furniture.

With the nighttime change to play-for-cash in October , that Bonus Round began offering five different prizes: The vast majority of contestants chose either the cash or a car. By about , nearly every contestant began calling some permutation of RSTLNE, which tended to reveal a good portion of the puzzle more often than not.

October 3, The current rules were introduced on both versions: The time limit was reduced to 10 seconds, and the puzzles were made slightly harder. It is extremely rare for RSTLNE to reveal half or more of the answer, and many puzzles between and used none of those letters. Starting in Season 7, bonus puzzles also became much shorter: The practice of very short bonus puzzles was gradually reversed around In Season 6, the show tried two experimental "Wipe Out" Weeks October and February , where winning the game allowed the contestant to return the next day, but also eliminated the bonus prize that they played for if it was won.

To indicate this, red "WO" letters were placed on each prize that was won. The prize selection was changed at the beginning of Season 7 to a random draw from five envelopes spelling out W-H-E-E-L, and any prize that was won was taken out of rotation for the rest of the week. On Fridays, if only one envelope remained, Pat generally said what the remaining prize was but still had the contestant pull out the envelope.

Regardless of outcome, Pat always revealed the prize after the round, except on the envelopes' first day. Wheel used just two envelopes A-B , with the prize only revealed if it was won.

While the envelopes have changed very little over the years, the prop they were put in had seven distinct appearances:. For several weeks during Season 14, the prize envelopes' insides were glittery green instead of their usual gold design.

Previously, contestants could win gold-and-silver packages, jewelry, annuities, trips, boats, trailers, motorhomes, or other esoteric prizes. As with the W-H-E-E-L envelopes, Pat always reveals the contents after the round regardless of outcome, although he forgot to do so on a March episode. Starting in Season 23, the Bonus Wheel remains onstage for the final segment; prior to this, it like the W-H-E-E-L props before it was taken offstage at the final break.

Despite a timer being present in the studio, it was very rarely shown on-camera and never appeared during the Bonus Round itself. A visual timer was added to the contestant window at the beginning of Season While it has never been stated on-air, the Bonus Wheel must make at least one complete revolution; spins that do not are edited out.

Unlike the old envelope ding, the current chime is in fact the beginning of the cue that plays immediately after the envelope is pulled out.

The old ding is still used after each episode's production slate is read, a practice dating back to at least January Starting in Season 30, Wheel began airing a clip from a previous episode's Bonus Round after Round 2, presented in a way very similar to the Preview Puzzle: The category is [category]. We'll give you the answer when we come back, right after this.

The voiceover during the reveal was originally "Here's the correct puzzle solution. Did you solve it? If the puzzle was solved quickly in its original airing, the footage is typically slowed down or paused to allow time for viewers to study the puzzle. Several clips have been from , twice , three times , and one from Season 6, the other from Season 7 after the contestant's letter choices became black. These are not used on sponsored weeks or road shows.

Starting in Season 31, they were reduced to Tuesdays and Thursdays only with Tuesdays also disappearing for the first week of Season On December 21, , this was expanded to 48 trilons across four rows 11 on the top and bottom, 13 in each of the middle two ; four more trilons were added to the corners by September 2, , bringing the total to However, these extra four were blocked by the frame of the puzzle board and could not be used.

The road-show board, used from plus a brief stint at home base for the first few weeks of Season 13 , always had 48 trilons, as it lacked the extra four in the corners. The home-base board was reportedly offered to the Smithsonian, but rejected due to its large size. On Pat's now-defunct website, he stated that the board was "gone". Both the studio and road-show boards no longer exist, except for a single trilon with a W slide displayed backwards in Sony Studios' Wheel Hall of Fame.

Sometime between January 6 and November 3, The original curtain had vertical strings of lights, which were removed sometime between June 7, and January 24, Interestingly, the background of the Season 30 logo had what appears to be vertical strings of lights. The doors opened after each round to reveal the prize platform for that round and, once Charlie finished describing the purchased prizes, the doors closed and "hookers" stagehands with large hooks pulled the platform out of the way to set up for the next round.

The Milton Bradley games released in use photos which indicate that, rather than the curtain immediately replacing the doors, Wheel temporarily went back to the original method of pulling away the puzzle board for shopping rounds. The first Byrnes pilot in , remaining through at least May 20, It was dropped by June 7 of that year, but returned on August 8, with the transparent wedges becoming white in January Originally, this was used for chroma-key zooms during the intro a practice dropped sometime between May 20 and June 7, and close.

For at least the pilots and premiere, the center also changed color for each spin. The center of the Wheel has likely remained green for the sake of familiarity, though the shade of green has changed over time: When the Wheel's color scheme was overhauled in , the center became lime green like the Prize wedges at the time.

The current shade, teal, has been used since Season The first Byrnes pilot in It was dropped sometime between March 15 and April 6, , but returned sometime between January 2 and March 20, It appears to have been used less and less frequently as the s progressed.

Its last known use on the nighttime version is the first Big Month of Cash episode October 5, , while its last known daytime appearance is the first show of Teen Week on December Most likely to increase visibility in larger venues. This practice was done from about ; by the Hawaii shows in early , two-line bonus puzzles once again used the middle two rows.

Wheel has used quite a few themes over the years, but only really four during the show's run:. Yes, although its use was sporadic following Season 9. In Seasons , the closing theme was used interchangeably with the version for the credits, while the Music Stars Week of May , used the opening theme for the only time since the end of Season 9.

The Crosswords theme was a remixed version of "Buzzword", a popular Wheel prize cue composed by Merv. The cue debuted as part of the music package, and remained on the show well into the s.

On July 17, , as part of the show's audiovisual makeover that coincided with its move from NBC to CBS, a new set of sound effects debuted on the first daytime episode with Bob Goen as host.

These included the current "puzzle reveal" chimes, "wrong letter" buzzer taken from Bumper Stumpers , Bankrupt slide whistle, "only vowels remain" beeps, Final Spin chimes, and the Bonus Round timer beeps and double-buzz. The Wheel's automated spinning was discontinued in early by Harry Friedman at the request of Pat, who later stated on his now-defunct website that he believed it was "a bad idea" for Wheel "to demonstrate that we had the ability to automatically spin the Wheel.

This said, the automated spinning initially only stopped for the intro after January 6; the automation was not stopped for the credits until after February Each taping day at Culver City consists of six episodes: This practice has led to other oddities other than the set changing rapidly, such as a single Teen Best Friends or Family Week episode airing in the middle of a week, or the sixth show airing before the other five of that taping day. At least Things and People debuted in , as no pluralized categories are used in the First Edition game but are in the Second.

The very small presence of Things and People, amounting to about four of the puzzles with Things only appearing once , suggests that the concept was very new.

The absence of Fictional Characters, Events, and Places suggests that they were not yet in use, and there is no proof they were used prior to September ; September 16, ; and December 6, respectively. Likewise, there is no proof before Season 17 of Phrases existing, Titles being used before Season 21 the earliest known appearance is January 6, , although Pat's comments suggest that it had been used before then , Occupations being used before February 10, , or Landmarks being used before April 29, That said, there are many gaps in the available episodes, which leaves the possibilities wide open.

Punctuation was actually nonexistent through at least part of , as confirmed by multiple personal recollections and both Milton Bradley games. The only confirmed instance to date is, interestingly enough, a bonus puzzle: In addition, several contestants have solved Toss-Up puzzles the instant the first letter was revealed, likely knowing the puzzle beforehand it is not possible to ring in before the first letter is revealed.

Also, several contestants have obviously known the answer before spinning, the first known example being a contestant on a episode who clearly knew the answer to the Round 3 puzzle DICK CLARK before any letters were revealed, as he called C and K first.

The book Wheel of Fortune by David R. Sams and Robert L. The book makes no mention of a puzzle being solved with no letters, although it is possible that one happened between then and BABY BOY.

The shortest known bonus puzzle under the original five-and-a-vowel rules is believed to be CHER, although its airdate is unknown. Several Toss-Ups over the years have been only six letters long, as well.

The shortest bonus puzzles known to be used on the board are likely any of a vast number of four-letter answers used between roughly the last known being BALI in November , plus FAWN on May 27, Besides the aforementioned What Are We Making? The April Fool's Day game also used a joke category of "Really Long Title" in Round 3, and three episodes from the first Retro Week in December created unique categories by prefacing the Round 1 category name with "60's", "70's", or "80's".

The wrong letter in this case was an S. Interestingly, no repeated letters were called. She opted to solve, but added -ES to the end. The seven main-game rounds also appears to be the record for that particular part of the game, with one recollection of a seven-round game near the end of Season 7 and another of ones "around" Seasons 8 and It is also believed that a Goen episode had seven rounds in the rather non-conventional fashion of six rounds and a tiebreaker.

The record during the shopping era appears to be six, set in October on a special all-cash episode of an Armed Forces Week and tied on April 1, five main-game rounds and the Bonus Round. Note that this does not count the hour-long episodes, which always had eight puzzles per episode three in the first game, three in the second game, the Head-To-Head round, and the Bonus Round.

Three, set on the first taped episode of Wheel two main-game rounds and the Bonus Round. When the show debuted in , games had a minimum of three puzzles. This increased to four when the Bonus Round was permanently introduced in December , five after shopping was dropped, six once the Puzzler was introduced in , and seven when the Preview Puzzle debuted in The Toss-Ups replaced the Puzzler and Preview Puzzle, initially retaining the seven-puzzle minimum until increasing it to eight at the beginning of Season On several occasions, a puzzle has been misspelled or contained improper punctuation.

Since , contestants are chosen primarily through Wheelmobile events held throughout the year at public or semi-public venues such as arenas, theaters, shopping malls, etc. At these events, people may fill out a form and drop it in a bin. Five names at a time are drawn at random to come onstage; traveling host Marty Lublin interviews all five, who then play a Speed-Up round. Auditions use a three-line board where one side of each square is a dry-erase surface, on which the hostess writes a letter if it is in the puzzle.

As with the real game, a category strip and Used Letter Board are present. After a puzzle is solved, five more names are drawn plus extra names if called contestants fail to come onstage , and the cycle repeats for an hour. Wheelmobile events typically last for six one-hour segments over the course of two days.

Everyone who appears onstage receives a Wheel -themed prize, which is selected before the interview segment by Marty spinning a small wheel. Those who show the most potential onstage, along with randomly-drawn names among those who did not get onstage, as well as those who submitted audition forms or videos online, are then invited to second-level auditions. These consist of mock games hosted by a different traveling crew; unlike the Wheelmobile games, these feature a vertical Wheel, of which each contestant is given two or three spins before "hitting" Bankrupt or Lose A Turn, and a projected board rendered on a computer.

After everyone has gotten a chance to play, the contestants then take a written test, consisting of 16 puzzles four each in four different categories, alternated between two sets. Once the tests are reviewed, some of the contestants are eliminated; those who remain play another set of mock games, including interviews.

Originally, players could stay on for a maximum of five games. This was decreased to the more familiar three-day limit sometime between June 7, and July 5, , which also applied to the nighttime show from Seasons For Seasons , returning champs were removed in favor of having the Friday Finals format each week in which an extra prize or prize package was awarded to the finalist who won the Bonus Round , after which the show returned to the one-and-done format that had been in place for Seasons along with Wheel In order to win said prize, the contestant must do the following:.

The yellow contestants hit Bankrupt five times while the other two teams hit it three times each and Lose a Turn once each. Notably, the three-round structure led to a unique instance on the Season 15 premiere September 1, where, due in part to an extended intro, Round 3 began as a Speed-Up. No, although if a spin seems unusually "light" Pat will usually stop the Wheel and ask the contestant to spin again.

However, the Bonus Wheel does have to make at least one complete revolution; if it does not, the original spin is edited out, and the contestant re-spins.

This led to an incident on September 28, where a contestant's spin was determined not to have made a complete revolution until after the bonus puzzle was revealed; as a result, the original puzzle was discarded, and she re-spun to play a different puzzle. While this would appear to be done to prevent audience influence toward the contestant's decision, the studio audience is encouraged to tell the player to flip it over.

Many times, along with Free Play. It only seems like Pat never does because those invalid spins have been edited out since , when they were only edited out sporadically before that point. Before this point, Pat had also hit Prize wedges, and even Surprise, on occasion. Back when invalid Final Spins were aired, there was a running gag from through at least May where the Bankrupt slide whistle would play if it was hit.

Bad Final Spins have sometimes led to the host having to re-spin more than once. Among those that aired were:. There is an easy way to tell if an invalid Final Spin was edited out: The official rules stated that landing on a Prize wedge, Surprise, or Free Spin gave that player the choice of taking the token back or applying it to their next spin.

Most frequently, the overhead shots of the Wheel may be trimmed to show only the Wheel slowing down and landing. From about the late s onward, cycles are often edited out of rounds if all three players consecutively make moves that do not affect their score or the answer i. In the fandom, this is referred to as a "null" cycle.

This is known to have been done since at least the introduction of the electronic puzzle board in , although it appears that it did not become semi-regular until around On rare occasions, turns are edited out that do affect gameplay. At some point in the first decade of the 21st century, "null" cycles began to be edited from Speed-Ups as well; these are often masked by a brief jump-cut to Pat, and such edits sometimes result in the Speed-Up music skipping or playing over itself.

Also, as mentioned above, the Final Spin is edited and reshot if Pat lands on anything other than a cash amount. On occasion, an edit may occur if a contestant solves the Speed-Up or Bonus Round on the buzzer, usually so that the tape can be reviewed. Generally, the answer is accepted only if the contestant started directly on or before the buzzer, and proceeded continuously without stopping.

At least once, a Speed-Up was thrown out due to such a call being required on the first turn, only for the review to show that the contestant did not beat the buzzer. Several episodes have had a puzzle edited out due to either a technical error such as the wrong letter lighting up, or a part of the set malfunctioning , a scoring error, the host accidentally accepting a wrong answer, or an audience member shouting out the answer.

Starting in Season 35, individual wrong letters on Free Play may also be edited out, even if not part of a "null" cycle. Finally, several episodes dating back to at least have had spins from other rounds or even other episodes dubbed in, due to the overhead Wheel shot not catching the actual spin. The rule change was made because, under the original rules of asking the contestant for five consonants and a vowel, nearly every contestant would choose those letters.

To compensate, the time limit was reduced from 15 to 10 seconds, and the puzzles made slightly harder. Plenty of times prior to the aforementioned rule change, but there are only a few known examples from afterward:.

Similarly, there have been at least two bonus puzzles where E was the only vowel: The player is allowed to call another letter.

There is no penalty for repeating a previously-given letter, although we do not advise doing it deliberately. The only known exception to this was on Wheel , where any repeat calls were silently counted against the contestant.

Y is always a consonant in Wheel 's context, meaning that contestants must spin to call it even if the puzzle uses Y as a vowel. If any subsequent examples exist, they were likely edited out of the episode and replaced with another Toss-Up.

This is known to have happened on March 31, The record for Bankrupt is believed to be six, achieved on at least March 27, Round 2 , December 30, Round 3 , October 4, Round 2 , November 28, Round 3 , March 18, Round 2 , November 25, Round 1 ; the and rounds involved one Bankrupt from a Mystery Wedge. The record for Lose A Turn appears to be four, achieved on an episode circa April nighttime , November 6, daytime , November 13, nighttime , October 21, , and October 21, Interestingly, on the episode, three of the four were consecutive hits by the same contestant, who used two Free Spins in the process.

For the sake of clarity, a "perfect" main game is one where no Bankrupts or Lose A Turns are hit, no wrong letters are called, nobody gets buzzed out, nobody missolves, and all three Toss-Ups are won.

During the era of "bonus" categories and questions, this required giving the right answers to those as well. This is not known to have happened at all, although the closest known example is December 13, The closest occurrence of a contestant playing a perfect game happened in the first week of Season 26, where a player swept the game and won the Bonus Round.

The only time he would have lost his turn was when he hit a Bankrupt on the Million-Dollar Wedge in Round 1, but he had obtained the Free Spin earlier in the round and immediately used it. Originally on the daytime version, it was believed that ties resulted in the tied contestants returning the next day as co-champions, as was the case on non-tournament episodes of Jeopardy!

Likely around the introduction of the Bonus Round, and definitely by November , a tie game simply meant that no Bonus Round was played and all three contestants returned the next day. The continuation game did not count towards a champion's three-day limit, and according to at least one recollection, this once resulted in a contestant playing for five days due to two consecutive ties.

Known tie games include November 13, , the aforementioned episodes, and twice in during Rolf Benirschke 's tenure as host. Benirschke's first tie quickly became infamous, as it resulted in him looking at the camera and admitting that he did not know what to do. Tie games on the nighttime show were originally broken by a Speed-Up round between the tied contestants.

Known tie games include a show taped in December and October 5, The former had the tiebreaker in its own segment, resulting in the Bonus Round moving to the final segment and Pat signing off immediately afterward, while the latter had the tiebreaker immediately after Round 5 with the rest of the game paced as normal. The nighttime procedure was also used for daytime weeks with the Friday Finals format, and at least twice had to be done at the beginning of Friday shows to break a tie at third place.

It is believed that Goen-era ties were handled identically, and it was apparently used at least once on Wheel Since the introduction of Toss-Ups, ties are broken by a fourth Toss-Up. This has only happened three times: March 13, , March 2, , and May 25, Contestants who are not physically able to spin the Wheel themselves are allowed to have a friend or family member serve as a "designated spinner"; said spinner may only spin the Wheel for them, and may not otherwise assist in gameplay.

At least twice, a "designated spinner" was incorporated into a team week, obviously without the gameplay limitations on the person doing the spinning.

This happened on an episode from the Family Week of May 23, , in which a mother and her wheelchair-bound son competed as a team. While the mother was the only one of the two to spin, her son did not call any letters, and his only contribution to gameplay was solving Round 1 with her.

A second instance of a "designated spinner" during a team week occurred on November 17, This does not apply to the Bonus Wheel, as that is smaller in size so the contestant is usually able to spin that themselves.

Very rarely, a puzzle may be discarded. This is often due to an audience member shouting out an answer, a wrong letter being revealed supposedly a frequent occurrence during Susan Stafford's tenure, as she often tended to turn the letters before they were lit , or the host accidentally ruling an incorrect answer as correct.

The earliest known instance of a discarded puzzle was on the January 6, premiere episode as indicated by a disclaimer read by Charlie O'Donnell during the closing credits of the episode. According to the book Wheel of Fortune by David R. Prior to the gift certificates being introduced in , winnings from discarded rounds were still awarded to the contestant anyway. At least three episodes all nighttime have had visible indication of a puzzle being discarded: After the contestants had their backs turned, the letter was revealed and Pat announced to the audience that they would discard the puzzle and restart the round.

It is not known how "bonuses" for discarded puzzles were handled immediately after the retirement of shopping. A round in May that began as a Speed-Up was thrown out due to a contestant solving the puzzle so closely to the buzzer that his answer could not be determined by ear; as a result, there was a stopdown before his answer was determined to have come after the buzzer, necessitating the discarded puzzle.

The Speed-Up was redone with a new puzzle and the same Final Spin value. Other times, if a contestant solved the Speed-Up on or after the buzzer, the rest of the round would proceed as normal until solved, and Pat would announce that the scores were tentative so that the contestant's answer could be checked.

The aforementioned Speed-Up was likely discarded due to the answer having come on the first turn, instead of much later in the proceedings.

One of Rolf Benirschke's first daytime episodes is known to have had a Bonus Round thrown out due to him accidentally accepting an incorrect answer.

At least twice May 8, and March 23, , a letter was revealed in the Bonus Round that should not have been; both contestants gave the correct answer and were allowed to keep their bonus prizes.

If an audience member shouted out the answer to a question asked by a "bonus" category , the bonus was simply discarded. This is known to have happened at least three times. As mentioned above, Toss-Ups are thrown out if no one rings in, although this was not originally the case.

Each contestant is given one chance to solve the puzzle. Should all three fail to solve, the puzzle is thrown out. Games Movies TV Wikis. Sign In Don't have an account? Contents [ show ]. Retrieved from " http:

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If a tag was landed on, a car horn sounded. The original "Car" tags were unique in that they were not lost to Bankrupts hit in subsequent rounds but were lost to Bankrupts hit in the same round. Also, if one was claimed, it was replaced with another in the next round. These changes were reverted for the rest of Season The car horn still sounds if one is landed on. Also, the tags are now lost to Bankrupts in subsequent rounds. When a tag is picked up, a large graphic of a tag appears on the contestant's scoreboard before shrinking to fit under their score.

They are still replaced in subsequent rounds if one is picked up, unless the car is won. On several occasions, contestants have picked up tags in situations where winning the car is impossible, most often by picking up the second one in Round 3 after the first one has been lost to Bankrupt.

Conversely, five contestants have managed to win the car after picking up three tags. For the week of September 30, only, the tags were altered to feature a black frame around the edges, with the make of the car at the bottom of the frame. Also during this week only, they offered a Mazda2.

The tags are not used on team weeks unless the teams are all married couples, likely due to the difficulty of sharing a car otherwise. The former three weeks were taped on-location in Hawaii, with the 9th being a couples' week, while the latter two were sponsored by Disney. The car changed back to the Nissan Versa in Season Introduced on the first Edd Byrnes pilot, Bankrupt is a black wedge on the Wheel that takes away the player's score for that round when landing on it score from previous rounds is not affected , and also costs the player their turn.

Originally, the wedge had white outlines; these were removed sometime between January 6 and mid-October There was originally one Bankrupt in Round 1 and two for each round thereafter, but in this was changed to add the second Bankrupt in Round 3; from , in the event that a round began as a Speed-Up, the second Bankrupt was removed along with any remaining cardboard.

The wedge's symbolic slide whistle was added sometime between June 7, and January 18, one recollection claims it was added in , and changed to the current sound on July 17, Beginning in the late s, the slide whistle sound was not heard if the host hit it on the Final Spin. For a brief period beginning on September 16, , the second Bankrupt was "off model", using the Clarendon font with all letters the same size.

This was fixed sometime between September 26 and October 2. Wedges with a dollar amount on them, and essentially the "meat" of the show. A correct letter call credits that amount multiplied by how many times the called letter is in the puzzle. This pacing was also used on s episodes during and preceding sweepstakes, to allocate time for Pat to explain them. It had a Sony Card logo on it for the first week, Dawn for the second, Febreze for the third, and Maxwell House for the fourth.

This was likely in honor of the show's 25th Anniversary. Until the late s, contestants who accidentally called a vowel after spinning lost their turn. Since at least Season 28, the vowel is now disregarded, and the contestant is prompted for a consonant.

For more information, see Wheel configurations. June 6, For the final week of Season 33, the show introduced a new feature unofficially called the Crossword Round.

In a first, the show solicited viewer feedback on its own website and social media to determine how frequently the round should appear each week. The feature became official on the Season 34 premiere. Many Crossword Rounds are similar to Fill In the Blank in that the clue is the preceding or following word with a blank, and all of the words in the puzzle can be used to fill in that blank.

So far, two Crossword Rounds have used an existing category as a clue. According to Pat on the Season 34 premiere, words in such a round may be solved in any order, so long as all of the words on the board are given without adding or subtracting anything.

While new to the American version, a similar round was previously used on the Spanish and German adaptations. It also bears some resemblance to the Wheel of Fortune Crossword electronic game from Tiger Electronics, and several fans have compared the round to the game show The Cross-Wits.

The player remains on the Express until they solve the puzzle or lose their turn, the latter of which also acts as a Bankrupt and plays the slide whistle. Should a player go Bankrupt on Express, the wedge is still kept in play, thus allowing the possibility of more than one Express run in a game. A train horn plays when the wedge is landed on. The wedge is animated and elevated similarly to Free Play.

If the Express is played, the shot of that player shrinks down to a square window insert with a border matching the player's podium color in the bottom-right corner with the puzzle board on the rest of the screen similar to the Bonus Round. The player's current score is displayed below the window using the same text graphic used for the Jackpot amount in Season 30 , and the logo-bug on the category strip is replaced with an "EXPRESS" graphic identical to the one on the wedge.

Starting in Season 32, a music bed plays during Express runs. Interestingly, the show appears to have two Express wedges: Contestants are generally encouraged to call vowels on Free Play if any remain. Throughout Seasons , if a contestant hit Free Play with most of the puzzle revealed, Pat would typically remind them that they can attempt to solve the puzzle with no penalty for an incorrect answer.

Likely because only one contestant ever took his advice during that period, Pat generally stopped doing this in Season 29 save for one occasion May 10, , after which the contestant solved incorrectly while on the wedge.

Most Gift Tags are white ovals with the company's logo, although some have had unique shapes. On January 7 and 9, , the tag was still the usual oval shape, but for the only known time, it was aligned vertically instead of horizontally. Present since the Shopper's Bazaar pilot, Lose A Turn simply makes the contestant lose his or her turn, but unlike Bankrupt does not remove money or prizes.

When the show debuted, a second wedge was added in Round 3; this was removed by November 3, Beginning in , the wedge was yellow with white outlines around the lettering and the space itself; by mid-October the outlines were removed, and on September 16, the wedge adopted its current appearance a very light shade of yellow, nearly white. Around January , the wedge changed to its current Clarendon font.

For a brief period after the font change, the "LOSE" text was extremely close to the Wheel's rim; this was fixed by February. The contestant must hit the wedge, call a correct letter, and solve that round's puzzle without losing it to Bankrupt. It is believed by fans that at least some of those who are berating the show are deliberately ignoring the wedge's actual rules for the sake of a story.

The Mystery Round offers a chance at an extra prize in the main game: Flipping the wedge also forfeits whatever amount is earned by calling a correct letter on it. If either wedge is flipped over, the other is played at face value for the rest of the round. Since its debut, a tinkle effect and synthesized chord play if an "active" wedge is landed on; during Halloween weeks, a spooky effect such as a moan or howling wolf is added.

On April 30, , an organ riff of unknown origin sounded instead. Also, since October 3, , a graphic effect shows viewers what is on the reverse of a wedge if it is landed on and a correct letter is called. Beginning in Season 31, that graphic is only used if a contestant decides not to flip over the wedge, barring instances when the contestant solves immediately after declining. The Mystery Wedges have had six designs, always including a question mark in a circle above the dollar amount, which is in the Clarendon Bold font.

They were originally black with a blue circle, a color scheme which was reversed in Season In Season 23, the circles were changed from black to red and the font was darkened. In Season 24, the font became slightly lighter and the digits got a sparkling outline.

On November 3, , the wedges' fronts and Bankrupt side became indigo and the outlines were removed; in Season 32, they became a blue-purple gradient. The Bankrupt side has also changed over time: Seasons had it as black-on-blue, which changed in Season 32 to a blue-purple gradient. The Bankrupt side lettering is in the font that is the same font as the other Bankrupt wedges. From Seasons , it had a bill on top and transparent bills all over itself. However, the weeks of October 24 and December 26, plus December and January 9, had it in Round 3 due to being taped before the change.

September 19, - November ? It is believed that the original Prize Puzzle did not last very long, as it was still used on October 3, but was not used on November 21 or December 5. When the Prize Puzzle returned in Season 21, it was not limited to Fridays and occurred randomly throughout the week; the element began appearing daily in Season Unlike its use in Season 15, the puzzles are now usually merely related to the prize rather than spoiling it outright.

After promoting the prize, the announcer reads a randomly-selected SPIN ID; if a home viewer sees their ID on the show, they have 24 hours to verify it on the show's website. For the first few weeks of Season 27, it was changed again to "Tonight's winning SPIN ID number, [number], belongs to [first name and last initial] of [city, state].

You have 24 hours to log on to wheeloffortune. This changed again on October 2, to omit the hometown, while displaying the viewer's name and state name on an outline of the state as it "popped out" of the map as seen at right.

On September 19, , the map was altered again to always show Alaska and Hawaii on the side, as opposed to those states only being shown if the SPIN ID owner was from one of them. Just two months later November 21 , due to some members failing to include it, the mention of the state was also removed. The graphic concurrently changed to the viewer's name on a ring with either a purple, blue, or green background.

The number itself has always been displayed on a graphic resembling the tumblers of a slot machine, although it has changed subtly over time. Originally, a Prize Puzzle could be in any of the first three rounds. Round 1 was dropped in September , followed by Round 2 on October 17, excluding the weeks of October 24 and December 26, both taped before the change. It is not known why this change was made, but it may have been to lessen the chance of a contestant building an early runaway lead. This decision has led to fans often criticizing the puzzles for being overly specific or contrived, and in some cases miscategorized.

Pat has also noticed this: Further, some puzzles were clearly taken from vacation brochures, particularly during the Sandals weeks in Seasons Unlike the current ones, these were claimed immediately upon being hit and apparently did not require solving the puzzle to be won. In addition, if a contestant lost it to Bankrupt, it was apparently placed back on the Wheel immediately.

Prize wedges were introduced permanently on the first nighttime episode in September , and on daytime in July Like all other winnings, they are held if the contestant solves that round's puzzle without hitting Bankrupt. Initially, contestants who hit a Prize wedge claimed it automatically, then called a letter for the dollar value underneath; the current rule, where players must call a right letter before claiming the wedge, was introduced on both versions between September 11 and December 24, It also appears that for at least the first few weeks of the nighttime version, Prize wedges were not forfeited if the contestant hit Bankrupt; this was changed before the end of the season.

From the retirement of shopping until the late s, Wheel prizes were introduced in Rounds 2 and 4, obviously unless Round 4 began as a Speed-Up. In Season 14, perhaps due to increasing time constraints, the second one was moved to Round 3 but only present if the Surprise was claimed by then. For a short time after the retirement of Surprise, the second Wheel Prize was fully reinstated for Round 3, but it was retired again following Season From then until June , it was in Round 2, and moved to its current position of Round 1 that September.

Upon the show's return to NBC in January , the first prize was moved to Round 1 and a flashing chyron was added showing a prize's value if it was picked up. Until the late s, Prize wedges often offered a variety of prizes, including some rather esoteric choices such as autographed memorabilia, framed art, jewelry, or even cars. Since around , it is extremely rare for the prize to be something other than a trip, or occasionally a gift card or cash provided by a sponsor. From about onward, the Prize copy may also be accompanied by a trailer for an upcoming film, particularly if a copy of said film is included as part of the prize bundle.

Since late , with the permanent placement of the Prize Puzzle in Round 3, the Prize is removed before then. From , Prize wedges were lime green with black text. By , they became light yellow. Partway through Season 12, a bright green color was introduced. For Season 14, they were greenish-brown with dark green text in the Clarendon font with sparkles for the first two weeks. Since September , they have generally featured artwork representing the prize in question.

Starting in Season 33, the announcer only describes the prize if it is won, unless the copy also includes a promotional plug; a similar method had been done during Season 12 with the Round 4 Prize. Present since the earliest days but not on the first two pilots , the Speed-Up round is used when time is running short. It is indicated by a bell sound, which was changed from its original sound which also served as the "time's up" bell on the original version of Jeopardy!

A shopping round still followed the Speed-Up even if the round began as one, although if time ran very short, the round was played for a gift certificate with no shopping. If the winner had a large amount when the round was played for a gift certificate, the host usually pointed out a car or other expensive prize that the player could buy.

Control begins with the player who was in control at the time the Speed-Up chimes play, with the value of a correct letter determined by whatever value the red arrow landed on. Each player calls one letter at a time, going in order from the viewer's left to right. After calling a letter, the contestant has three seconds reduced from five on April 13, to solve the puzzle.

Since about October , every game ends in a Speed-Up except November 27, , due to a contestant solving over the Final Spin bells , most likely to allow for a better chance at a comeback by trailing contestants and to bring a definite "end" to gameplay. Previously, they were only used if necessary, and it was not uncommon for a game to end without one. Oddly, at least two episodes before their becoming permanent one from January or February , plus September 12, had the final round go to Speed-Up with only one consonant remaining in the puzzle, even though finishing the game without one would have taken considerably less time.

Many games since the mids will let Round 4 finish normally if it is almost completely filled in, then complete a Round 5 Speed-Up quickly, although March 18, and April 29, had Round 4 go to Speed-Up with only one consonant remaining. Originally, if the last round began with a Final Spin, the category and puzzle were not revealed until after the dollar value was established. This was changed to show the puzzle with chimes, followed by the Final Spin, sometime around October ; however, it was not done on November 2, This change was likely in relation to the decision to use a Final Spin in every game.

According to one recollection, Bob Goen once hit Bankrupt repeatedly on a Final Spin and ultimately asked Vanna to spin for him. The practice of editing out "bad" Final Spins became normal in although it is believed to have been done occasionally before then if the game ran long , and edits can usually be spotted by looking at the Wheel's position just before the close-up shot.

From then until the end of Season 23, the second Bankrupt and any remaining cardboard were removed should a round start as a Speed-Up. In Season 24, the second Bankrupt was present even if a round started as a Speed-Up, but it was again removed for Seasons Originally, clacking and chalkboard taps were frequently heard during Speed-Up rounds. These were from the Used Letter Board, as the hinged letter cards chosen were flipped back and scores changed. Sometime between December 11, and mid-October , the chalkboard was replaced by a dry-erase board; around , both were replaced by a single monitor.

Background music was added starting on November 6, , and the music bed has changed several times since. During a Speed-Up round, the contestants are shown at the top of the screen with the puzzle at the bottom; originally in reverse until sometime between September 22 and December 28, The category display was present from about March until sometime between September 22 and December 28, , returning around October According to one recollection , early Speed-Up rounds did not allow contestants to pick vowels in the first 30 seconds; this period ended with a beeping noise, possibly the "only vowels remain" ones, to signify that vowels could now be chosen.

Interestingly, on the July 15, episode, the game ends with what Chuck refers to as "our final second round" and indicates that vowels may not be picked at all ; he also prompts each contestant to solve immediately after calling a correct letter, thus suggesting that the Speed-Up round was originally timed, although it is not known what was done if the time limit expired. The Milton Bradley games released in do not prohibit vowels in the Speed-Up or give the round a time limit, suggesting it was dropped prior to November 3.

September 4, The puzzle answer is revealed one letter at a time. Contestants are given color-coded buzzers similar to those on Jeopardy! When a contestant rings in, the "right letter" ding is heard. Failing to give a correct answer locks out that player for the rest of the Toss-Up.

For its first season, a Toss-Up was used before the interviews to determine who starts Round 1 and again before Round 4 to determine who starts that round. The rounds also became split-screened, identically to Speed-Up rounds. On rare occasions, Toss-Ups are unsolved, at which point the Bonus Round "time's up" buzzer sounds.

Most frequently, unsolved Toss-Ups stem from a wrong answer being given with most of the puzzle revealed, leaving little to no time for anyone else to ring in. However, there have been a few instances where all three contestants have rung in with wrong answers at least some of which oddly had the "wrong letter" buzzer sound when the third player gave a wrong answer , and at least two one circa , one on March 31, where no one rang in at all.

The former was left in the episode, while the latter was edited out and replaced with a new Toss-Up which was solved. Alternatively, it can be taken to the Bonus Round, where it allows for a fourth consonant. For its first season, Pat frequently forgot that the Wild Card is lost to Bankrupt, and would often forget to take it back until several turns later. This was most notable in a Teen Best Friends Week show in January , where a team kept it into the Bonus Round despite having hit Bankrupt while holding it, although they did not solve the bonus puzzle.

In Seasons , the Wild Card was unique in that it was the only extra wedge or token that remained available after Round 3. Since Season 26, it is removed after that round. Originally, contestants tended to use the Wild Card on random dollar amounts as opposed to almost always using it on the top dollar value. If a contestant hits the top dollar amount while holding the card, Pat often prompts them to use it.

Starting in Season 30, he occasionally prompts contestants to use it on random amounts in Round 4, most often if the contestants are trailing. It seems that for most of the card's life, players could only use the Wild Card immediately after calling a consonant. By Season 31, using it after buying a vowel for the amount they previously spun became inconsistently allowed.

When the Wild Card used in the Bonus Round, the fourth letter provided by it is called after the "three more consonants and a vowel". On the chyron, the Wild Card letter is revealed by a graphic of the card turning. When the wedge debuted, it used a noticeably thinner font and its reverse was blank. From this point onward, it was placed upside-down on the contestant's arrow whenever claimed. For its last season, the numbers on the reverse were given white outlines.

Initially, the wedge was introduced in Round 3 and stayed on the Wheel until claimed. In Season 14, it was only in play during Round 2, and moved back to Round 3 in Season 18 and as before, was removed after the round, even if unclaimed. Beginning in Season 20, it was only available in Round 1. It is also believed that, during the Big Money Week of May 29, , it was placed upside-down and used as the top dollar value for Round 4 of at least the Friday episode. On November 6, , it was accidentally placed on the Wheel for Round 2 and won; as a result, it remained for Round 3 as well.

Its reverse featured a graphic corresponding to the prize that it offered, and Pat would describe the prize if it was claimed. If it was landed on, the wedge was "enhanced" by a graphic effect that highlighted it with a yellow glow. Its cash values were not multiplied by the letter. For the first week of taping only, its amounts were treated as prizes, but for the rest of the season, any money won with it could be spent on vowels.

Initially, the Big Money Wedge was a sparkly yellowish-green with a magenta readout. On October 29, it was overhauled to royal blue with five vertical rows of red dots and a lighter blue readout, a design that was recycled in Season 26 for the final Jackpot wedge.

From the Shopper's Bazaar pilot through at least September 5, , contestants could buy vowels at their discretion provided they had enough to do so, making the wedge redundant. Given this and the fact the pilots added the wedge in Round 2, it would seem the purpose of Buy A Vowel which was never hit in the first two pilots was to be the "impulse buy" that could backfire.

Other than this, it is one of the most uncertain elements in the show's history, with recollections being contradictory on every aspect including the above:. Aside from this, Game Show Network has never held the rights to air the daytime version, only airing three episodes one each from , , and as part of a marathon after Merv's death in , and even then there has been some suspicion among fans that GSN's copies came from the Paley Center for Media.

A list of daytime episodes that we know to exist can be viewed here , which also includes a list of what post episodes are known to circulate among collectors. Additions and corrections are of course appreciated. While the show's placement between "Russians in Afghanistan" and "Sally Ride" covers the timeframe, the lack of any events would appear to suggest the nighttime show despite it debuting about three months after Ride's space trip in June While Edd Byrnes was not mentioned, this was likely because his contributions to the franchise were limited to the pilots, neither of which aired.

During these namedrops, a short clip was shown from the celebration party with Merv, Bob, Pat, and Charlie O'Donnell visible. The earliest known instance is Brides Week, known to have been held three times: January , three grooms played on the 26th ; February , ; and June , promoted on the June 8 episode of Blockbusters. The week is also the earliest known appearance of Summer Bartholomew , who modeled several wedding gowns for those shows.

The first example of what are generally considered "road shows" are the nighttime weeks of November 14 and 21, , which were taped on October at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Before this, Wheel taped a week of shows at the Ohio State Fair in in advance of the syndicated version's debut. While these aired on at least four stations in the state during the week of August 29, they appear to have been "mock" games created for locals to play and by all indication are not considered part of the official episode count. Presumably as a result, they were also not aired by GSN when the network had the rights to Season 1. The theme was Kay Starr's rendition of " Wheel of Fortune ", which had previously run 22 weeks nine at 1 on Billboard' s best-seller chart.

Unlike contemporary games Queen For a Day and Strike It Rich , which simultaneously helped and exploited the poor and downtrodden for ratings to the dismay of both contemporary and modern critics, Wheel invited good Samaritans to share their stories to America including Duane Dewey, the first person to receive a Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower and spin a vertical carnival-style Wheel Further, the concept of a vertical Wheel was used for the Shopper's Bazaar pilot in Wheel appears to have ended due to its competition, primarily NBC's educational series Ding Dong School , with the nighttime version falling against Break the Bank.

This was not a game show, however, but rather a preview of new record releases. While it is true that Merv's idea of the show came from a casino game, he based it off of Roulette, which involved a horizontal wheel similar to the show. On Pioneers of Television: Game Shows which aired on PBS in , footage was shown of a Merv interview where he states that, when he needed to provide an interesting and unique way to award money, he looked back at one of his childhood memories: Note that this is likely an incomplete list.

The below are books written by those associated with Wheel , which in turn contain some recollection of their experiences with the show:. As she has noted several times over the years, she typically buys dresses she likes after wearing them. Pat has joked at least once about this question, noting that when he's asked he responds with "If I was going to wear a hairpiece it'd be a better one than this.

As seen later that week, he achieved the illusion by wearing a real hairpiece over a bald wig. This Wiki is made by fans, for everyone. We are not affiliated with the show, for better or worse. While Wheel has not yet made a definitive statement on the matter and will likely never do so , some of the classic clips shown during the intro in Season 30 were events mentioned on this Wiki, although that in and of itself isn't really conclusive since many of the same events are also mentioned on the TV Tropes pages for Wheel although this Wiki and those pages do share at least three editors.

It was quickly discovered by fans that the footage was from Rolf Benirschke's first episode on January 10, something that would not have been known let alone considered out-of-the-ordinary by the general public, partly since Wheel is not known to have acknowledged his tenure since late and the episodes have never been in reruns.

It is known that the show is aware of our sister site, the Buy A Vowel boards which has a link to this Wiki at the top of each page , as forum moderator MarioGS contestant Robert Santoli asked both Pat Sajak and John Lauderdale about it during the taping of his episode aired March 25, While we have a collection of video links here although we do not host any videos ourselves , we cannot guarantee that all of the links will work, as Sony sometimes blocks or removes videos from sites particularly YouTube.

Sony has never publicly released episodes on DVD or any other format, so the only sources are the collectors' trading circuit and videos uploaded by contestants or their relatives; as a result, the audiovisual quality varies.

Just before each episode, the contestants for said show would draw numbers from a container — a "1" put that player at the leftmost red position, "2" for yellow, and "3" for blue.

This applied to all contestants, regardless of whether they were civilians or celebrities. This said, the players do still draw numbers to determine which arrow they go to, with the addition of drawing numbers to determine which episode of that taping day their group itself presorted by the show they'll be on: Pat once joked about this in a September show: The "Contestant FAQs" page on the show's website states that "Our rule is that you can be on the show only once in a lifetime.

There are a lot of people who want to spin the Wheel! Being on the American Wheel at any point in its history — including Wheel and the unaired Lottery Experience Games it is not certain if this also applies to the pilots or the Ohio State Fair shows — renders you ineligible for the rest of your life.

The "Show FAQs" page on the show's website goes into a bit of detail about this, specifically mentioning Wheel and the daytime show, name-checking Chuck Woolery , Bob Goen , and Pat Sajak ; the names are followed by "or other hosts", which covers at least Rolf Benirschke and Alex Trebek.

This rule was introduced sometime between late August and the end of , likely when the Friday Finals were dropped at the beginning of Season A contestant named Janet played on October 8, and a nighttime episode, while a player named Paul was told after his appearance on S taped August 28, that he could try out for Wheel again the following year. According to a recollection, a s contestant was removed from the contestant prep room for having been on the show before. On rare occasions, a contestant is brought back due to an error on their previous game.

Known instances include September 8, nighttime ; another Season 6 episode; and April 2, If you have any paperwork related to your appearance, that can help as well. At best, it'll already be online; at worst, especially if it's the daytime show pre, it may be gone. Stranger things have happened, though. We're always interested in hearing stories of players' experiences on Wheel , both on the show itself and in the auditions.

The aforementioned Buy A Vowel boards have a Spinning Stories section dedicated to this, and has quite a few former, upcoming, and hopeful contestants among its member base. As with the above, contact us through this Wiki or by posting on the Buy A Vowel boards, and we'll work something out. Note that we're interested regardless of quality, length, or even whether it has audio or is audio-only , though in no circumstances will we trade money for footage.

Even if an episode is listed on the aforementioned page, if you have more than what we know to be available to the public, we'd love to hear from you. Like with contestants, we're always interested in memories of staff associated with Wheel. As with the above, contact us through this Wiki or by posting on the Buy A Vowel boards.

The font appears to be based on "Chesty" also known as "Bust" , though some characters differ slightly in appearance in comparison to it. As a side note, the font used for the Shopper's Bazaar logo as well as the puzzle board letters and credit roll of the pilot is Hopkins, while the unique mid-show bumper logo used in daytime from at least as well as at least one ticket in July used an unknown font.

Originally or at least, beginning in , the Wheel font was "Fortune", also known as "Chesterfield" and "Volta". As the series continued, the appearance of certain parts of the Wheel changed slightly: This modified font remained until January , when all numbers but not letters since Bankrupt kept the same appearance were modified once again: Since September , the category strips have been in Gotham.

However, after the Fictional Character category was renamed to just Character in early , its category strip was inconsistently in Arial instead.

At least have been counted so far among circulating episodes and other confirmations: All three were in the Speed-Up round. Interestingly, all of this was earned through Toss-Ups and the Speed-Up. Interestingly, the contestant on March 30, had swept the game, possibly making this the lowest combined winnings in a single episode. In none of the above episodes was the Bonus Round won. This is also the largest all-cash record. This depends on whether the pilots are included.

If one goes by the name Wheel of Fortune , then Edd Byrnes was the first host. If only aired episodes count, then Chuck Woolery was the first host; Chuck also hosted the pilot. Based on questions asked to audience members by Thornton, Wheel takes the stance that Chuck was the first host.

Susan Stafford , who had been a syndicated radio host beginning around According to Thornton, who sometimes asks this question to audience members during tapings, nobody at the show's current base of Culver City has ever been able to give the correct answer — a fact he brings up during road shows, where he does get the right answer.

Mike Lawrence if one includes the pilots, Charlie O'Donnell otherwise. He signed a commitment to the upcoming Toni Tennille Show shortly before the cancellation was overturned and, under the belief that "a handshake is my word", opted to stay with it. NBC withdrew the offer, and Chuck's last episode aired December 25, Susan departed because she wanted to do humanitarian work.

She took a trip to India in Summer and, after seeing the plight many people were in, felt that turning letters for the past seven years was not really a way for a grown woman to live her life; many have noted that Susan seems visibly distracted in the available footage from the September-October timeframe.

While her last regular episode aired October 22, Stafford returned to fill in for her successor for the daytime week of June 16, However, then-head of NBC Fred Silverman rejected the decision, claiming Sajak was "too local"; Merv opted to cease tapings until Pat was hired, which only happened after Silverman left the network.

Vanna was selected from hundreds of applicants to do on-air auditions to replace Susan, and was chosen due to her chemistry with Pat. According to Vanna, the only reason Merv would give her is that she turned the letters better than anyone else.

She devoted her life to charity work and medicine, earning a B. Her official website has a full list of her accomplishments. Susan also had a longtime relationship with Dan Enright of Barry-Enright Productions, along with being the company's Vice President of Public Relations; following Enright's death in May , Chris Sohl the company's Vice President of Business Affairs since became the head of the company and promoted Susan to Executive Vice President, which in turn was followed around January by the company becoming Stafford -Enright Productions.

Unfortunately, her association with Wheel was quickly forgotten after Vannamania took off: Susan's Wheel -related obscurity was only further proven during a episode of the Nostalgia Channel game show Let's Go Back created and hosted by Scott Sternberg, who later made Wheel , when a question asking for the person Vanna replaced was met with silence yet, when asked who Pat replaced, a contestant immediately gave the correct answer; after Sternberg said Susan's name, the same contestant could be heard saying "forgot that".

The book Popular Culture, Educational Discourse, and Mathematics evidently did not see anything prior to Vanna's hiring, as it stated that Wheel "broke ground" by declaring Vanna a "hostess" and giving her equal billing with Pat, despite Susan having the former during her tenure and the latter at least three times once with Chuck in , again with him in , and once with Pat in Wheel itself has very rarely acknowledged Susan's contributions, and she was not credited on the Byrnes footage that aired on the ceremonial 3,th nighttime episode in There are also official Facebook and Twitter accounts for the show itself; the latter often offers a "Twitter Toss-Up" where a puzzle is tweeted with an increasing amount of letters revealed, in the manner of a Toss-Up puzzle, until the entire answer is filled in.

Shortly before the release of the Wii and DS versions, Pat stated on his now-defunct website that despite his celebrity status, he wanted his family to be as normal as possible. He felt his children were not old enough to understand why his image was on a product.

Furthermore, he made a small cameo in Wheel of Fortune , released in by Infogrames for the PC, via the Season 19 intro which was used in the game. Following Charlie's death on November 1 and the tribute that aired on the 5th, it was decided that the eight weeks that had yet to air with him announcing November 8, 22, and 29; December 20 and 27; January 3; February 7; and March 28 would be dubbed over by various guest announcers.

While the official reason was that it was "a tough decision, but it would have been too sad to hear Charlie's voice so close to his death. Any references by Pat to Charlie were also dubbed over, and when Pat threw to the substitute the camera would fade to a wide shot where his mouth was not as visible. This also resulted in the last two appearances of Rock On! Clue Crew, although the closed captioning alternatingly mis-credited these announcements to Charlie, Jim, or Vanna, or simply as "Woman".

According to Wheel , which had announced Jim's hiring just after Season 28 ended, they had dubbed over the other substitutes to "establish" their new announcer. On some of these occasions, Jim was dubbed over someone who had been dubbed over Charlie, resulting in three people doing the exact same work: On February 27, , the retro clip in the opening was a set of outtakes from the intro of March 14, involving Tillman the skateboarding bulldog.

While these clips aired during Season 28, Cramer that week's guest announcer was dubbed over by Jim despite no episodes from that week being rerun in Summer The fact that this was done long after "establishing" Thornton indicates that the official reason for the Summer dubbing was in fact false.

Katie Cantrell , whose role as "Vanna for a Day" essentially amounted to being treated like Vanna for a day. Her role on the show amounted to a single episode March 24, , and even then not the entire show — Katie only did Rounds 2 and 3 plus a car pose after Round 4, a period that by no stretch of the term could fall under the definition of "day" and essentially renamed the contest "Vanna for Two Rounds".

With a few rare exceptions, such as certain road shows most recognizably the Radio City Music Hall stint in November , the chant is actually a recording that has been in use since August 8, However, the producers sometimes have the audience perform the chant before taping anyway, even though it does not make it into the aired episode. Per Adam Nedeff , who worked at the show as a prize coordinator, each wedge is about 12 inches across the top, five inches at the base, and 28 inches long.

These figures are not exact, however, as the wedges are curved to fit the Wheel's shape. The official name for Prize wedges since at least the mids, although it and the alternate spelling "Goodie" had been used in various international versions for many years beforehand. This said, the show itself is not known to have used this term and one other "Wedge Ledges", the official name for the contestant arrows on the air. For this reason, as well as the sake of clarity, this Wiki avoids using either.

The original board used 39 trilons, spread across three rows. On December 21, , this was expanded to 48 trilons across four rows 11 on the top and bottom, 13 in each of the middle two ; four more trilons were added to the corners by September 2, , bringing the total to However, these extra four were blocked by the frame of the puzzle board and could not be used.

The road-show board, used from plus a brief stint at home base for the first few weeks of Season 13 , always had 48 trilons, as it lacked the extra four in the corners.

The home-base board was reportedly offered to the Smithsonian, but rejected due to its large size. On Pat's now-defunct website, he stated that the board was "gone".

Both the studio and road-show boards no longer exist, except for a single trilon with a W slide displayed backwards in Sony Studios' Wheel Hall of Fame. Sometime between January 6 and November 3, The original curtain had vertical strings of lights, which were removed sometime between June 7, and January 24, Interestingly, the background of the Season 30 logo had what appears to be vertical strings of lights.

The doors opened after each round to reveal the prize platform for that round and, once Charlie finished describing the purchased prizes, the doors closed and "hookers" stagehands with large hooks pulled the platform out of the way to set up for the next round. The Milton Bradley games released in use photos which indicate that, rather than the curtain immediately replacing the doors, Wheel temporarily went back to the original method of pulling away the puzzle board for shopping rounds.

The first Byrnes pilot in , remaining through at least May 20, It was dropped by June 7 of that year, but returned on August 8, with the transparent wedges becoming white in January Originally, this was used for chroma-key zooms during the intro a practice dropped sometime between May 20 and June 7, and close.

For at least the pilots and premiere, the center also changed color for each spin. The center of the Wheel has likely remained green for the sake of familiarity, though the shade of green has changed over time: When the Wheel's color scheme was overhauled in , the center became lime green like the Prize wedges at the time.

The current shade, teal, has been used since Season The first Byrnes pilot in It was dropped sometime between March 15 and April 6, , but returned sometime between January 2 and March 20, It appears to have been used less and less frequently as the s progressed. Its last known use on the nighttime version is the first Big Month of Cash episode October 5, , while its last known daytime appearance is the first show of Teen Week on December Most likely to increase visibility in larger venues.

This practice was done from about ; by the Hawaii shows in early , two-line bonus puzzles once again used the middle two rows. Wheel has used quite a few themes over the years, but only really four during the show's run:. Yes, although its use was sporadic following Season 9.

In Seasons , the closing theme was used interchangeably with the version for the credits, while the Music Stars Week of May , used the opening theme for the only time since the end of Season 9. The Crosswords theme was a remixed version of "Buzzword", a popular Wheel prize cue composed by Merv. The cue debuted as part of the music package, and remained on the show well into the s. On July 17, , as part of the show's audiovisual makeover that coincided with its move from NBC to CBS, a new set of sound effects debuted on the first daytime episode with Bob Goen as host.

These included the current "puzzle reveal" chimes, "wrong letter" buzzer taken from Bumper Stumpers , Bankrupt slide whistle, "only vowels remain" beeps, Final Spin chimes, and the Bonus Round timer beeps and double-buzz. The Wheel's automated spinning was discontinued in early by Harry Friedman at the request of Pat, who later stated on his now-defunct website that he believed it was "a bad idea" for Wheel "to demonstrate that we had the ability to automatically spin the Wheel.

This said, the automated spinning initially only stopped for the intro after January 6; the automation was not stopped for the credits until after February Each taping day at Culver City consists of six episodes: This practice has led to other oddities other than the set changing rapidly, such as a single Teen Best Friends or Family Week episode airing in the middle of a week, or the sixth show airing before the other five of that taping day.

At least Things and People debuted in , as no pluralized categories are used in the First Edition game but are in the Second. The very small presence of Things and People, amounting to about four of the puzzles with Things only appearing once , suggests that the concept was very new. The absence of Fictional Characters, Events, and Places suggests that they were not yet in use, and there is no proof they were used prior to September ; September 16, ; and December 6, respectively.

Likewise, there is no proof before Season 17 of Phrases existing, Titles being used before Season 21 the earliest known appearance is January 6, , although Pat's comments suggest that it had been used before then , Occupations being used before February 10, , or Landmarks being used before April 29, That said, there are many gaps in the available episodes, which leaves the possibilities wide open.

Punctuation was actually nonexistent through at least part of , as confirmed by multiple personal recollections and both Milton Bradley games. The only confirmed instance to date is, interestingly enough, a bonus puzzle: In addition, several contestants have solved Toss-Up puzzles the instant the first letter was revealed, likely knowing the puzzle beforehand it is not possible to ring in before the first letter is revealed.

Also, several contestants have obviously known the answer before spinning, the first known example being a contestant on a episode who clearly knew the answer to the Round 3 puzzle DICK CLARK before any letters were revealed, as he called C and K first. The book Wheel of Fortune by David R. Sams and Robert L. The book makes no mention of a puzzle being solved with no letters, although it is possible that one happened between then and BABY BOY.

The shortest known bonus puzzle under the original five-and-a-vowel rules is believed to be CHER, although its airdate is unknown. Several Toss-Ups over the years have been only six letters long, as well. The shortest bonus puzzles known to be used on the board are likely any of a vast number of four-letter answers used between roughly the last known being BALI in November , plus FAWN on May 27, Besides the aforementioned What Are We Making?

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