The 25 Greatest Game Shows Of All Time
TV game shows have entertained viewers for years with everything from trivia questions to reality competitions – read on for our picks of the 25 greatest game shows of all time.
25. Love Connection
Hosts: Chuck Woolery (1983-1995), Pat Bullard (1998-1999)
Years on TV: 1983-1995; 1998-1999
Super-suave Chuck Woolery hosted Love Connection, a different take on The Dating Game, where contestants would select their match from three potential dates. The audience voted on which date they thought was the perfect match and the contestant would reveal his/her choice. Chuck’s interview of the couple’s date provided some of the best moments – especially when the dates were a total disaster.
24. Name That Tune
Hosts: Red Benson, Bill Cullen, George DeWitt, Richard Hayes, Dennis James, Tom Kennedy, Jim Lange
Years on TV: 1953 -1959; 1974-1981; 1984-1985
Name That Tune is the predecessor of shows like “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” and yeah, looking back it is heavy on the cheese. But who didn’t love the courage of those contestants who could “name that tune in two notes” – for reals?
23. Double Dare
Hosts: Marc Summers, Bruce Jenner, Jason Harris
Years on TV: 1986-1993
Nickelodeon kids’ channel featured plenty of slime and other messiness with the kids’ game show Double Dare. Hosted by super cheeseball Marc Summers (he of the Cosby sweaters), kids were put through their paces with trivia questions and physical challenges. Each show ended with a sloppy obstacle course.
22. Press Your Luck
Host: Peter Tomarken
Years on TV: 1983-1986
Any game show where eager contestants shout out “Big bucks! No whammies!” has to make the list, despite the dorky animated “Whammy” character that took away contestants’ cash and prizes. Check out this video of some whammy highlights:
21. Queen for a Day
Host: Jack Bailey
Years on TV: 1947–1964; 1969–1970
An oldie for sure, but in its day, Queen for a Day allowed women to escape their everyday drudgery and become royalty (if only for a day) when the audience voted the biggest sob story with the applause meter. We’d love to see this one make a comeback – but spa vacations would have to replace a new washer and dryer, for sure.
20. The Mole (1st two seasons)
Host: Anderson Cooper
Years on TV: 2001 – 2004; 2008
The Mole had a great thing going during its first two seasons on the air with host Anderson Cooper. Then he went and got all schmancy CNN newsman and The Mole took a dive into celebrity territory. The Mole made a revival in 2008, but it couldn’t hold a candle to those first two seasons.
19. Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?
Host: Jeff Foxworthy
Years on TV: 2007- present
Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader is genius, right? Challenge contestants to show their smarts with elementary school questions… only it’s not so easy to recall fifth grade history when you’re all grown up. Hosted by the most famous redneck of all, Jeff Foxworthy makes the losing contestants fess up “I am not smarter than a 5th grader.” Oh the misery.
18. Cash Cab
Host: Ben Bailey (US)
Years on TV: 2005 – present
Who needs an elaborate and/or cheesy game show set when the whole thing can take place in a pimped out taxi cab? Hosted by comedian Ben Bailey, this game show on wheels is a clever diversion from your typical trivia show – and makes you wish the cash cab would pull up the next time you hail a taxi.
17. The Dating Game
Hosts: Jim Lange (1965-1980), Elaine Joyce (1986-1988), Jeff McGregor (1988-1989), Brad Sherwood (1996-1997), Chuck Woolery (1997-2000)
Years on TV: 1965-1980; 1986-1989, 1996-2000
The Dating Game is the original matchmaking game show (Take that, The Bachelor!), starting in 1965 and running through 1980 with host Jim Lange, who introduced the show’s signature ending of blowing a kiss to the viewers. The Dating Game saw a variety of hosts through the years but ended with the big cheese of game show hosts himself, Chuck Woolery.
16. Remote Control
Host: Ken Ober
Years on TV: 1987 – 1990
This MTV game show classic combined pop culture with quirky host Ken Ober, a unique format and a set that was supposed to be Ken’s mom’s basement. Losing contestants were sucked off the set in their leather recliners and don’t forget the final challenge – naming music videos from clips played on a pile of TVs.
Hosts: Dick Clark (1973-1988), Bill Cullen (1974-1979), John Davidson (1991-1992), Donny Osmond
Years on TV: 1973-1988; 1991-1992; 2002-2004
Whether it was $10,000 or $100,000, the set for Pyramid was a killer – those monitors for the clues and of course, the ultimate final pyramid challenge with the fenced in “winner’s circle” and the cubes that revealed each correct answer in the pyramid. Classic Pyramid!
14. Win Ben Stein’s Money
Host: Ben Stein
Years on TV: 1997 – 2003
Who would’ve thought that lawyer and presidential speechwriter Ben Stein would be a worthy host and competitor on a Comedy Central game show? The host became a contestant during the second segment and the final challenge pitted the winning contestant against Ben Stein himself! And don’t forget sidekick Jimmy Kimmel for the fun factor during the first three years.
13. The Newlywed Game
Hosts: Bob Eubanks (1966-2000), Jim Lange (1984), Paul Rodriguez (1988-1989), Gary Kroeger (1996-1997)
Years on TV: 1966-2000
The Newlywed Game delivered some of the best TV game show memories in the history of the genre. Originally hosted by Bob Eubanks, The Newlywed Game introduced audiences to “whoopee” as viewers learned about newly married couples’ sex lives in a test to see how well each knew the other.
Hosts: Richard Dawson (1976–1985; 1994–1995), Ray Combs (1988–1994), Louie Anderson (1999–2002), Richard Karn (2002–2006), John O’Hurley (2006–present, daytime), Al Roker (Summer 2008, Celebrity Family Feud)
Years on TV: 1976 -1995; 1999-present
While Family Feud really hit its stride in the 70s and early 80s with host Richard Dawson (although he was totally creepy kissing all the ladies), it’s seen mini-revivals along the way with hosts like Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn and John O’Hurley. Survey says! Family Feud is a winner.
11. Let’s Make a Deal
Hosts: Monty Hall (1963-1977; 1980-1981; 1984-1986; 1990-1991), Bob Hilton (1990), Billy Bush (2003)
Years on TV: 1963-1977; 1980-1981; 1984-1986; 1990-1991; 2003
If you had to name one of the zaniest game shows, Let’s Make a Deal would definitely fit the bill. Part of the fun was host Monty Hall’s selection of contestants from an audience of people in crazy costumes trying to stand out in the crowd. Once the dealing began, contestants could choose from behind door or curtain number one, two or three – with either legit prizes or total crap.
Host: Allen Ludden, Tom Kennedy (Password Plus), Bert Convy (Super Password), Regis Philbin (Million Dollar Password)
Years on TV: 1961-1967; 1971-1975 (Password Plus 1979); (Super Password 1984-1989); (Million Dollar Password)
You had to love the hushed announcer revealing the secret password: “The password is…” Password offered up plenty of great celebrity appearances (C’mon! Betty White rules Password!) and a variety of dimwitted clues and answers. Here’s a great Super Password clip featuring major screw ups by Patty Duke, Rip Taylor and host Bert Convy.
9. Hollywood Squares
Hosts: Peter Marshall (1966-1981), Jon Bauman (1983-1984), John Davidson (1986-1989), Tom Bergeron (1998-2004)
Years on TV: 1966-1981; 1983-1984; 1986-2004
Circle gets the square! It’s tic-tac-toe, celebrity style – what’s not to love? The scripted comedy on Hollywood Squares was delivered better by some than others (Hello? Paul Lynde in the center square?!) and featured regulars like Florence Henderson, Sandy Duncan, George Gobel and Joan Rivers. A 1998 revival put Whoopi Goldberg in the center square for four seasons.
8. Deal or No Deal
Host: Howie Mandel
Years on TV: 2005 – present
Deal or No Deal put Howie Mandel back on the map – that alone has gotta be worthy of landing on our list of the 25 greatest game shows. Add Mandel’s dramatic pauses, calls from the banker and crazed contestants playing a game of chance for $1 million, and… well, we just dare you to look away. (Bonus points for sexy girls with briefcases.)
7. Wheel of Fortune
Host: Chuck Woolery (1975- 1983), Pat Sajak, (1983-present)
Years on TV: 1975 – present
It’s not the longest-running syndicated game show for nothing…Wheel of Fortune has only slightly evolved over the years though, updating the puzzle board with touch technology (hey, you don’t want Vanna White hurting herself by turning those letters!) and giving the wheel a new look over time. Question is, how much longer can Vanna do this before she’s rolling a walker in front of the puzzle board?
6. Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Hosts: Regis Philbin (1999-2002), Meredith Vieira (2002 – present)
Years on TV: 1999 – present
Who Wants to be a Millionaire revolutionized the way game shows looked and paved the way for a sexier crop of new shows. Many copycats have employed the dramatic lights and music, but few new game shows can compete with the popularity of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Final answer.
5. Match Game
Hosts: Gene Rayburn (1962–1969, 1973-1982, 1983-1984), Ross Shafer (1990–1991), Michael Burger (1998–2000)
Years on TV: 1962-1969; 1973-1984; 1990-1991; 1998-2000
Who didn’t love those fill in the blank questions about Dumb Dora – and the saucy answers the panel offered up? While the celebrity panelists changed over the years, there was no denying the funny that regulars Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly brought to the group.
Host: Jeff Probst
Years on TV: 2000 – present
While host Jeff Probst, the challenges and Tribal Council have worn thin over the years, you can’t beat the dynamics of folks trying to outwit, outplay and outlast their competition. You can’t deny the Survivor juggernaut. Just try. We dare you.
3. The Amazing Race
Host: Phil Keoghan
Years on TV: 2001-present
The Amazing Race took the reality competition game show concept and turned it on its ear – sending teams around the world in a variety of challenges. Sometimes the biggest challenge is the travel logistics, while other times language barriers and driving a stick shift (duh!) slow down the teams. Factor in top notch host Phil Keoghan and you’ve got reality game show gold.
Hosts: Art Fleming (1964-1975, 1978-1979), Alex Trebek (1984–present)
Years on TV: 1964-1975; 1978-present
Let’s all hum the Final Jeopardy! thinking song, shall we? The ultimate quiz game show – but with a twist – provide your answers in the form of a question. While Art Fleming was the original Jeopardy! host, it’s really Alex Trebek who people identify with the show. Oh, Alex Trebek, how we love your smugness!
1. The Price is Right
Hosts: Bull Cullen (1956-1965), Bob Barker (1972-2007), Drew Carey (2007-present)
Years on TV: 1956-1965; 1972-present
Come on down!! Host Bob Barker made The Price is Right a game show institution and Drew Carey is doing a noble job of carrying the torch. The contestant frenzy, combined with a variety of games (Plinko, anyone?) and the beautiful Price is Right models made the show a hit for the 35 years Barker hosted. 35 more with Drew Carey?