We’re following up on our list of the 25 Greatest Game Shows of All Time with our picks for the 25 Worst Game Shows. While many of these may have a special place in our hearts, make no mistake – they were pretty bad. And the rest… well, they just suck.
25. Classic Concentration
Host: Alex Trebek
Years on TV: 1987 – 1991
It’s the classic children’s matching game – but game show style! While Concentration began on TV in 1958, it’s the cheesier follow-up, Classic Concentration, hosted by Alex Trebek, which makes our list. Contestants had to uncover matching prizes beneath numbered pieces. As they found matching pairs, a rebus picture puzzle underneath was slowly uncovered. There was something classy about that staircase of prize cars though, huh?
24. Card Sharks
Hosts: Jim Perry, Bob Eubanks, Bill Rafferty, Pat Bullard
Years on TV: 1978 – 2002
We know what you’re thinking – Card Sharks is a classic. Well, yes. But it’s also pretty lame, however fondly you may remember those giant sized cards and contestants screaming “higher!” or “lower!” or “freeze!” The beautiful card dealers featured throughout the series’ run didn’t improve the concept any, but made the rather drab set a little more interesting to look at.
23. The Weakest Link
Host: Anne Robinson
Years on TV: 2001 – 2002
The Weakest Link was a quiz show like no other, with sour-faced host Anne Robinson at the ready to throw insults, diminish the dummies and call out “You are the weakest link… good-bye!” The novelty of a curmudgeonly host wore thin quite quickly with American audiences, and The Weakest Link only lasted one season. We like our game show hosts perky!
22. 1 vs. 100
Host: Bob Saget
Years on TV: 2006 – 2008
Host Bob Saget facilitated this show of one contestant versus 100 of “the mob.” Anyone else find it odd that they named the 100 collectively as “the mob?” At any rate, this show looked to see if 1 person could take on 100 and stand the victor by game’s end – or at least go home with some winnings if they couldn’t beat the entire 100. Special guest mob members (c’mon, Barry Williams?) couldn’t revive this game show that was all flashy lights and not much more.
21. Legends of the Hidden Temple
Host: Kirk Fogg
Years on TV: 1993 – 1995
Before you start sending the hate mail for our inclusion of Legends of the Hidden Temple on the worst game shows list, hear us out. Legends of the Hidden Temple was no doubt pretty cool when you watched it as a kid – but if you check it out now, it’s pretty lame. Host Kirk Fogg was super dorky – especially when he swung in on a vine, complete with microphone holster on his belt. And don’t even get us started on giant talking head Olmec or the fact that most of the kids sucked at the Temple Run. Watch out for the Temple Guards!
20. Sale of the Century
Host: Jack Kelly; Joe Garagiola; Jim Perry
Years on TV: 1969 – 1973; 1983 – 1989
This little quizzy show added an element of shopping, as contestants were offered discount deals via “Instant Bargains” throughout the course of the show. Plus they could haggle with the host to make the deal even sweeter. Big winners could return the next day and have the chance to win a big-ticket item, like a car. Totally boring… but oh, but that loveable cheeseball host Jim Perry.
19. Distraction (comedy central)
Host: Jimmy Carr
Years on TV: 2005 – 2006
Distraction kept contestants on their toes by offering up plenty of well… distractions while they attempted answering trivia questions. Finding out who could withstand the most clothespins on their face during game play grew old pretty fast. This one proves yet again that people are willing to do just about anything to win money.
18. The Singing Bee
Host: Joey Fatone
Years on TV: 2007
Like an updated Name That Tune, only karaoke style. Host Joey Fatone didn’t bring much to the table for Singing Bee and the lame backup singers, cheesy band and house dancers “The Honeybees” only muddied the waters of an already weak concept. Totally lame.
17. Shop ‘til You Drop
Hosts: Pat Finn, JD Roberto
Years on TV: 1991 – 2005
Step inside the fake mall set on Shop ‘til You Drop! This game show, whose bonus round involved a shopping spree of running an existing prize to a storefront in exchange for a (hopefully) higher ticket item, sent contestants racing against the clock like idiots. Later years of the game show replaced the mall for a set that resembled a warehouse store (a la Costco) – ah, how we missed Von Schiffendecker’s Furniture mall storefront.
16. Supermarket Sweep
Host: David Ruprecht
Years on TV: 1990 – 1995 (Lifetime); 2000 – 2003 (PAX)
From dorky host David Ruprecht to even dorkier matching sweatshirts with peeking polo shirt collars, Supermarket Sweep is a definite guilty pleasure that we’ve spent countless hours wasting our time watching. That’s not to say we don’t have a warm place in our hearts for that mad dash “Big Sweep” around the store as contestants scoop turkeys and diapers (and various other big-ticket items) into their carts to rack up the dollars on their cash registers.
15. Win, Lose or Draw
Hosts: Bert Convy (1987 – 1989), Robb Weller (1989), Vicki Lawrence (NBC)
Years on TV: 1987 – 1990
Wow, celebrities playing Pictionary in what looked like one of their living rooms? C’mon, who didn’t want to see how well Burt Reynolds could draw the clues? (Hint: not us.) And the constant burbling of teams shouting “It’s a cat, it’s a dog, it’s a fish, it’s a…” caused many a viewer to glaze over rather than share in the excitement of Win, Lose or Draw.
14. Dog Eat Dog
Host: Brooke Burns
Years on TV: 2002 – 2003
Host Brooke Burns challenged contestants to outpace their competitors in a variety of truly stupid physical challenges, which were never nearly as cool as the stunts on Fear Factor. The contestants voted a person to complete the challenge – if they failed, they were sent to the “dog pound.” If they succeeded, they chose someone to go to the pound. This continued until there was one “Top Dog” facing off against the “Dog Pound.” All in all, this show stunk like a steaming pile of dog shit.
Host: Penn Jillette
Years on TV: 2006 – 2007
Identity, hosted by Penn Jillette, was a game based on stereotypes, basically. Contestants had to match each of 12 strangers to their identities, including hobbies and occupations, among other attributes. In many cases there was some misdirection, such as a preschool teacher or a missionary dressed in a bikini, to throw off the contestant. Even some famous strangers were featured on the show, like Eve Plumb, who played Jan on The Brady Bunch and Olympian Bruce (pre-Caitlyn) Jenner. You can guess it fizzled pretty fast.
12. Rock & Roll Jeopardy!
Host: Jeff Probst
Years on TV: 1998 – 2001
Jeopardy is a part of game show history. Rock & Roll Jeopardy? Not so much. Hosted by Jeff Probst of Survivor, not even those sweet little dimples could bail him out of VH1’s attempt at musical trivia with the Jeopardy name. The format from original Jeopardy! was hardly updated for this rock and roll spin-off and viewers lost interest.
Host: Dennis Miller
Years on TV: 2008
How good is your memory about things in your own life? Amnesia awarded money for knowing things that should be too easy – like the name of a certain road in your neighborhood or picking mom’s pie from a lineup of pies. We’re just wondering how far Dennis Miller has fallen to have to host this dreck? Helps pay the bills, right?
Host: Chuck Woolery
Years on TV: 1984 – 1993
What’s more boring than playing the Scrabble board game? Watching it played on TV, with host Chuck Woolery presiding over the crossword puzzle thrillfest. We give out extra lame points for the letter tiles that each contestant chose and pushed into a slot in front of them. The sound effects as each tile found its way onto the Scrabble board (or didn’t – oops, watch out for that “stopper!”) just added to the cheese factor.
9. My Dad is Better Than Your Dad
Host: Dan Cortese
Years on TV: 2008
We can only guess that Mark Burnett ran out of good ideas when he came up with My Dad is Better than Your Dad, a game show based on childhood bragging. Teams of kid and dad battled for the title of best dad with challenges of speed, strength, smarts, and bravery. Because, you know, swinging your kid on a harness to throw a ball at a huge Velcro target really proves your worth as a parent. No wonder it was canceled after just one season.
8. Set For Life
Host: Jimmy Kimmel
Year on TV: 2007
Even host Jimmy Kimmel never looked like he was sold on this game show, where contestants would search for the magical white lightsticks that would move them up the ladder and give them money for life. Watch out for the dreaded red lights that put an end to all your hopes and dreams. Uh-oh! You can tell Kimmel was just collecting a paycheck with this one.
7. Hole in the Wall
Hosts: Brooke Burns, Mark Thompson
Years on TV: 2008 – 2009
It was a huge success in Japan, but not so much in the U.S. Hole in the Wall’s genius concept put competing teams through various cut-out shapes on a moving wall by contorting their bodies to fit the shape. This hit Japanese game show did not translate to U.S. audiences. The idea was a little light on substance if you ask us, but we’re guessing plenty of people who saw the YouTube videos tuned in.
6. Bowling for Dollars
Hosts: Varied by location
Years on TV: 1970s – 1980s
This 1970s staple was seen on a more local level among game shows, appearing on TV in markets like Cincinnati, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, among other places. Its concept was as ingenious as the name – contestants would put their bowling skills to the test and earn money and prizes for their efforts. When flashier game shows began to fill up the airwaves, Bowling for Dollars all but vanished, except for a 2008 revival in Buffalo.
Host: Rossi Morreale
Years on TV: 2007
Billed as “The New Sale of the Century,” the most hilarious thing about Temptation was the old school theme song – you’d think you were watching a 70s game show with that little ditty, but nope – you’re in the 2000s of cheesy game show excitement! There’s nothing worse than a show that has a crap budget. And there was no way of hiding it with the shitty prizes that were featured on Temptation.
4. The Moment of Truth
Host: Mark Walberg
Years on TV: 2008 – 2009
How low will people sink for a shot at prize money? On The Moment of Truth, contestants were subjected to a lie detector test prior to their appearance, running through a variety of questions about their personal lives. Once on-air, the participants were asked a variety of the initial questions and – dramatic pauses, lights, and music in place – are put to the truth test. Are they telling the truth? And will their admissions break up friendships, families, and relationships?
3. The Chair
Host: John McEnroe
Years on TV: 2002
The Chair, hosted by John McEnroe, looked to see how well people could keep their cool under pressure, by putting contestants in uncomfortable situations while monitoring their heart rate. If they were able to keep their heart rate below a certain level, they would progress to another level of earnings. Could they keep their cool when faced with a “heartstopper” like being face-to-face with an alligator? In the end, nobody cared and the show was canned.
Host: Peter Marshall
Years on TV: 1988
Truly? A game show based on the dice shaking game? Yeah, it happened. And it was pure crap. There’s no way to sugar coat this boring dice game and come out with anything better than mediocre. Even the “dice girl” featured on each episode didn’t help.
Hosts: Tom Crehan and Dale Roy Robinson
Year on TV: 2008
This game show goes beyond the gross factor as contestants not only had to eat all matter of disgusting food, but they were then subjected to vomit-inducing challenges in an effort to see who would toss their cookies first (clam chowder followed by a Tilt-a-Whirl?!). Those with an iron constitution walked away with prize money – and likely, a tummy ache.