Ranking The 7 Greatest Game Shows Of All Time


Game shows are a staple of television. They seem easy to produce, give away money to everyday people, and…well, what else are you going to watch when you’re stuck in a waiting room or home sick from school? So we thought it would be fun to rank popular game shows based on a few factors: longevity, prize money given away, and ratings.

Game shows have made household names out of ordinary people for being smart and lucky. Ken Jennings, for example, has earned over $4.1 million dollars from doing game shows alone. But have you heard of Brad Rutter? (Probably not.) He has earned over $4.5 million from doing just two game shows! He beat Jennings’ earning on Jeopardy! by over a million dollars. I guess what we’re getting at here is that there are a lot of people who got life-changing money from something as simple as spinning a wheel or playing Plinko. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

7. Let’s Make A Deal

Let’s Make a Deal has had a brief renaissance, but is nowhere near the popularity it had in the ’70s. The original host of the show Monty Hall created it with Stefan Hatos as a game of luck and intuition. It is easy to spot because the audience members always dress like assholes to increase their chances of being selected to make a deal. The show aired more than 3,000 episodes over 13 seasons. In 1974, it was the highest-rated syndicated prime time program. It’s tough to find out the cash value the show gave away during its run, but it was a fairly large amount. No one walked away a millionaire, but if a contestant made the right choices, they got some pretty sweet swag. Granted, it probably wasn’t enough money to be seen on television dressed like a douche, but still better than being dressed like a douche and not winning anything.


6. Hollywood Squares

Do you enjoy watching B-list celebrities try to be funny? If so, Hollywood Squares is the game show for you! Squares is a celebrity panel game, mixed with Tic-Tac-Toe and “comedy.” The celebrities are asked questions, the contestant can either agree or disagree with the celebrity’s answer, and if they get it right, they get that square. It ran for 26 seasons and aired over 3,500 episodes. In the earlier versions, prizes included a car and money. But the games from the early 2000s had prizes up to $100,000. It was very popular, and spawned a lot of different celebrity “Squares” shows all over the planet.

5. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

This game show was a juggernaut for about two years when it was the first show to offer a million dollar grand prize. It’s popularity soon wore off, though, and the show seems to have a new host every year. It gets a big boost from being the first show in America to play for a million dollars, but doesn’t have the longevity of some of the shows it beat out. We also gave it a nudge for allowing us to make fun of people who made it to the chair and then promptly missed the first question. Part of the fun of game shows is playing at home, and for some reason it feels good to see smug people lose. According to this list of biggest winners in game show history, Millionaire has created at least three millionaires.


4. Family Feud

Sure, it hasn’t given away as much money as Who Want’s to Be a Millionaire?, but it has been a steady hand in the daytime game show business for a long time. Within a year of it’s debut in 1976, it was the number one ranked daytime game show. It held steady ratings for a few years until the end of its first run in 1985. It was relaunched in 1988 on CBS and ran until 1995. Then, it was syndicated in 1999 and has been aired ever since. It’s had a lot of hosts throughout its run, but the Steve Harvey-hosted version has placed Family Feud in the top five of syndicated game show ratings. And let’s be honest, Feud is an awesome game to play along with at home.

3. Wheel of Fortune

Better known as The Wheel in my household — my wife and I watch this show damn near every night, partly because we are too lazy to change the channel after the news, and partly because it’s an easy game to play along with — Wheel of Fortune premiered as a daytime series in January 1975, and continued to air on the network until June 1989.  The popularity of the show led to a nightly syndicated edition being developed; that series premiered on September 19, 1983 and continues to air to this day. It has over 6,000 episodes and everyone has seen. Fun fact: The original theme music was composed by Alan Thicke. Yes, that Alan Thicke.

2. The Price is Right

This show’s original run lasted from 1956-1965. It came back in 1972 with Bob Barker and has been on the air ever since. Drew Carey took over hosting duties in 2007. I wasn’t on board with Carey as the host — it just didn’t feel like the price was right — but after 10 years, I guess I’d better be OK with it. The show has created one millionaire, Adam Rose, who won both showcases on a special $1,000,000 Spectacular episode, which was worth $153,000 in cash and prizes with a million dollar bonus. The Price is Right lost some points for the amount of money the average contestant wins, but made up for it because it’s the longest running game show, airing episodes five days a week around the world.

1. Jeopardy!

Are you smart and good with your thumbs? Well, Jeopardy! is the show for you! It has over 7,000 episodes. It has won the most Daytime Emmy awards (33) and is also the only game show post-1960 that has won The Peabody Award. It’s also the only game show to make players multi-millionaires. Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter earned $3.4 million and $4.4 million, respectively. Without Jeopardy! we also wouldn’t have Turd Furgeson. That alone should give it the top spot. But in all seriousness, Jeopardy! has been on for a long time, it has given away millions and millions of dollars and is a staple in daytime television.




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