Wheel of Fortune

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The first iteration of the 1981-97 puzzle board, before a digital one was introduced.


Just as Jeopardy! was ending its daytime run on NBC, Merv Griffin introduced an even more durable Game Show format: Take the children's game of Hangman, add a carnival wheel with various dollar amounts, as well as hazards such as "Lose a Turn" and "Bankrupt", and allow the winner to spend the money on prizes right there in the studio. The 1973 pilot, Shopper's Bazaar, was very different from the series; a further two pilots in 1974 hosted by Edd "Kookie" Byrnes (who admitted that he was drunk) held far closer to the rules we know today.

When Wheel debuted in 1975, Chuck Woolery was the host and Susan Stafford operated the puzzle board. By late 1983, after Woolery left the show in a salary dispute with Merv Griffin and Stafford left to do humanitarian work, Pat Sajak and Vanna White had become the show's full-time hosts in both daytime and Syndication, although there was a ten-month period from 1981-82 in which Pat and Susan worked together. (White became popular out of proportion to the popularity of any other woman in a similar role on a game show.) The syndicated Wheel dropped the shopping element in 1987, then switched from a mechanical puzzle board to one with touch screens a decade later. Starting in the early 1990s, it has added (and occasionally retired) all manner of new wrinkles, including new puzzle categories and a trio of Toss-Up puzzles.

After Sajak left the daytime (not syndicated) Wheel to try his luck as a late-night talk show host on CBS, former football player Rolf Benirschke (who had literally no previous TV experience) and Bob Goen tried unsuccessfully to take his place. Under Goen's watch, Wheel channel hopped to CBS for 18 months before returning to NBC for another nine (and eventually folding). In 1997, CBS and GSN tried a children's spin-off titled Wheel 2000, which did not fare well and remains the last daytime version. The nighttime version has carried on for an impressively long time, and is still the highest-rated TV series in syndication.

Pat Sajak finally retired from the syndicated series in June 2024, with Ryan Seacrest taking over the hosting duties.

The show has had multiple international adaptations, notably the Australian version which ran from 1981 to 2006. Versions in Brazil, France, Russia, Vietnam, Panama, Spain, Hungary and Turkey are still in production.

The following Game Show tropes appear in Wheel of Fortune:
  • Bonus Round: Sometimes referred to as "Bonus Land" by Pat. Has changed over the years, but retains the same "core" — the winner faces another puzzle and is given both the category and a number of letters. The contestant must solve the puzzle within a time limit to win a (generally) nice prize.
    • 1973: Used only on the Shopper's Bazaar pilot, the "Shopper's Special" was the prize the contestant was playing for. All vowels in the puzzle were revealed, after which she was given 30 seconds to rattle off consonants.
    • 1975-76: During the six-week stretch of hour-long episodes, the day's champion chose a difficulty from Easy, Medium, Hard and Difficult with prizes increasing in value accordingly.
    • 1978: A token marked "Star Bonus" was placed on the wheel, and allowed a trailing contestant to perhaps win the game by way of the same puzzle difficulties above. In both cases, s/he chose four consonants and a vowel, then was told the category and given 15 seconds to solve.
    • 1981-: Introduced at least a couple weeks before Pat took over. The contestant is asked for some letters, and given a short time limit to solve the puzzle for a prize; further details are given below.
  • Bonus Space: Free Spin and its successor, Free Play. Also the Wild Card, which allows a contestant to call a second letter during a spin, or call a fourth consonant in the Bonus Round.
  • Celebrity Edition: Played straight for some time in the 1990s. Later on, they tried variants where each team consisted of a celebrity and a contestant playing together; the contestant got their winnings as usual, while the celebrity had an equal amount donated to charity. These were most often done with Country Music singers or sports stars.
    • In 1980, a game show hosts edition was played, with a then-prominent game show host playing against two regular contestants for a show. The host would play for a designated player in the audience, selected at random before the show. Hosts known to have played were Tom Kennedy, Bill Cullen and Wink Martindale.
  • Confetti Drop: $100,000 and $1,000,000 winners get showered with confetti and streamers. Lampshaded multiple times by Pat, either by making verbal references to it, sweeping it up after a big win, or having the contestants sweep it up themselves.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • In the earliest days, any money left over after shopping (less than the least-expensive prize remaining) was immediately put "on account", meaning that it carried over to the next shopping round and would be lost if the contestant hit Bankrupt. By mid-1975, contestants could put leftover money on a gift certificate while retaining the "on account" option. Until the shopping aspect was ousted entirely in mid-1989, almost all contestants asked for the gift certificate.
    • When the current Bonus Round was introduced in December 1981, contestants were asked for five consonants and a vowel to help fill in a blank puzzle; they almost exclusively picked some permutation of R, S, T, L, N and E because those letters are so common. The rules changed on October 3, 1988 to give them those letters automatically and ask for three more consonants and a vowel, and the time limit was cut from 15 seconds to 10. This trope showed up again even under the new rules, as countless contestants guess the next-most common letters C, D, M and A.
    • In the shopping era, contestants could pick from any of the remaining prizes in the bonus round, but almost always chose cars. After shopping ended on nighttime in October 1987, contestants were given the choice of five prizes in the bonus round ($25,000 cash, a car, and three other prizes that rotated weekly), but almost everyone went with the cash. Beginning in September 1989, the bonus prize selection was changed to a random draw from five envelopes spelling out W-H-E-E-L. If a prize was won, it was taken out of rotation for the rest of the week [1]. The envelopes were ousted in November 2001 for a 24-space bonus wheel, in which the top amount is $100,000 ($1,000,000 if the contestant in the bonus round lands and keeps the million-dollar wedge during the game.)
    • For its first season of use, Same Name spelled out the word AND, causing nearly every contestant to start the round with N, D and A. This was circumvented in Season 7 by replacing the word with an ampersand.
  • Consolation Prize: Initially played straight. Until Season 20, anyone who finished with a score of $0 got consolation prizes. From then until Season 23, they got $500; since then, they get $1,000 ($2,000 on weeks with two-contestant teams).
  • Extra Turn: The Free Spin, retired in Season 27 for Free Play which is somewhat similar in concept. Wild Card is also one to an extent, allowing the contestant to call a second letter on a spin.
  • Game Show Appearance: 227, The A-Team, L.A. Law, Family Guy, Gimme A Break and South Park all had characters appearing on the show. Notably, LA Law used the Goen version, even though the two were still on different networks at that point.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: Several variants over time.
    • In daytime, contestants could stay for up to five days, later reduced to three. In nighttime from 1983-89, contestants were one-and-done, and from 1989-96 nighttime had a three-day champion rule. This was changed in 1996 to "Friday Finals", where the three highest winners from Monday-Thursday competed against each other on Fridays, and whoever won on Friday received an extra prize. Nighttime returned to one-and-done in 1998. Although the show has claimed that the enormous amount of contestant applications saw the need to remove any sort of returning-championship format, Pat said on the Sony Rewards website that the show doesn't have returning champions because the most skilled players are not always the big winners — a good puzzle solver could end up hitting an endless string of Bankrupts, while a lousy puzzle-solver could stumble his/her way into a runaway lead.
    • Nighttime also had a $200,000 cap on winnings prior to the adoption of the Million-Dollar Wedge, which would have not only required a $100,000 win in the Bonus Round but also a six-digit win in the main game. Needless to say, the cap was nothing short of impossible to attain.
    • The show's official contestant application states that there is no such thing as a repeat appearance — if you have ever appeared on the American Wheel, regardless of version or host, you can't come back.
  • Golden Snitch: Sometimes invoked if Pat hits the $5,000 space in the Final Spin. With a $1,000 bonus in later years, that's $6,000 per consonant in a game that usually averages $15,000-$20,000 for the winner. Also invoked if the Prize Puzzle prize is particularly expensive (most are only $5,000 or so, but some can be upwards of $10,000). In one particularly egregious example, a contestant went into Round 4 with $27,600 but still ended up losing because an opponent benefited greatly from a $6,000 Final Spin.
    • On the other hand, another contestant went from a distant third to $35,000 thanks to a $6,000-per-letter Speed-Up, but still lost to someone who had $38,500.
  • Home Game: Several board games, video game versions as early as the NES, and several PC versions as well. The most recent[when?] home-game version was released on the Wii and Nintendo DS in November 2010, along with a Wii / Nintendo DS version of sister show Jeopardy!.
  • Home Participation Sweepstakes: Currently, the Prize Puzzle rounds qualify — after each, the SPIN ID of a random home viewer is drawn, allowing them to win the prize associated with that puzzle. Previously, home viewers could enter sweepstakes for various other things, including several variations that involved unscrambling words spelled out by differently-colored letters on the puzzle board.
  • Let's Just See What Would Have Happened: If a contestant opts not to flip over a Mystery Wedge and solves immediately afterward, Pat will often ask the contestant if he or she wants to see what was on the other side.
    • On at least one daytime episode (aired in 1976), a contestant who solved the puzzle early was asked to spin the wheel to see what she would have landed on; the player landed on the $1,500 space (at the time, the top-dollar amount).
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Mike Lawrence was announcer on the 1973 pilot, followed by Charlie O'Donnell from 1974-80. After Charlie's departure upon the show's announced (but retracted) cancellation to do The Toni Tennille Show, Don Morrow announced for a week; Jack Clark then took over and held the role until he died in 1988. M.G. Kelly announced most of the 1988-89 season, minus a two-week stint in New York City when Don Pardo held these duties. Charlie returned on February 20, 1989 and held the role until his death in November 2010, when various announcers filled in. Jim Thornton was named his replacement in June 2011.
    • Game Show Host: Chuck Woolery, Edd Byrnes, Pat Sajak, Rolf Benirschke, Bob Goen, David Sidoni, Ryan Seacrest.
    • Lovely Assistant: Former Trope Namer. Vanna's hardly the first game show model, and not even the first letter-turner on Wheel (that would be Susan Stafford), but her omnipresence and meteoric rise to fame in the wake of the show's 1980s success have made her iconic of this Trope. Tanika Ray did the mo-cap and voice acting for the animated assistant "Cyber Lucy" on Wheel 2000.
  • Progressive Jackpot: The Jackpot wedge, of course. It starts at $5,000 and has the value of each spin added to it; to win it, the contestant has to hit the Jackpot wedge, call a correct letter, then solve right away. (Incredibly, the first Jackpot win came when a contestant hit it on their very first spin and solved with only one letter showing!)
    • From 1986-88 on the NBC daytime show, a different Jackpot was played. Similar to the nighttime prize wedge (picked up when landed on, had to avoid Bankrupt and then solve the puzzle to claim the prize), this Jackpot was an accruing cash prize that began at $1,000 and increased by $1,000 per show until won. This, by the way, was the first time a cash prize was offered on the show on a regular basis; occasionally, during special weeks, a cash prize would be offered to the week's top winner.
  • Retired Game Show Element: Several, as far back as Buy a Vowel in the show's first few months. See that page for details.
  • Show the Folks At Home: If the Mystery Wedge is landed on, the home viewer is shown what is on the other side of it.
  • Speed Round: The Speed-Up round (Final Spin). Vowels worth nothing, consonants worth the amount landed on (plus $1,000 since 1999). Unlike most examples of this trope, Speed-Ups are not timed.
  • Think Music: A light music bed plays under Toss-Ups and the Speed-Up round. Also, a 10-second beeping timer initially played during the Bonus Round, but it has been replaced by another music bed.
  • Prize Letdown: Arguably every shopping-era prize that wasn't a car, all-expenses-paid vacation trip or possibly fur coat, but everyone remembers the $154 ceramic Dalmatian. The late 80s-early 90s also had some real stinkers in the Bonus Round, such as a build-your-own log cabin kit, a silver tea serving set, even historical documents signed by Abraham Lincoln. Arguably, the gift tags could also fall under this, particularly if it's a $1,000 gift card for Kmart.
  • Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: Some of the bonus puzzles have been downright brutal, relying on large numbers of obscure letters (e.g., JURY BOX) and/or excessive vowels (e.g., OAK BUREAU) that would be nearly impossible to solve even with R-S-T-L-N-E plus three-and-a-vowel. Most bonus puzzles in the early-to-mid 1990s were 3-5 letters in length, sometimes not even containing any of the automatic letters — would you believe WAX, WIG and ZOO in the same month? [2]
    • A Clue puzzle from 1993 was SILENT BUTLER'S TARGETS, with a correct response of "crumbs or ashes". This stumped all three players and Pat, as none of them knew what a silent butler was. (It also led to a funny moment when one contestant guessed "maid".)
  • Whammy: Bankrupt and Lose A Turn. At least the latter lets you keep your cash/prizes/etc.
Tropes used in Wheel of Fortune include:
  • Accidentally Accurate: On one episode with a Fictional Family puzzle, Pat jokes that the category has only been used eight times. At the end of the show, he discovers that it actually has been used only eight times.
  • Alliteration: The "Same Letter" category, in which every word in the puzzle begins with the same letter.
  • Aloha Hawaii: Often invoked with the many trips to Hawaii the show has awarded, but they have also taped outdoors in front of the Waikoloa Village on three separate occasions.
  • And Starring: Until the daytime show moved back to NBC on January 14, 1991 The Announcer introduced only Chuck/Pat/Rolf/Bob, who in turn would introduce Susan/[guest hostess]/Vanna. The nighttime show changed the opening spiel to "...the stars of America's game, Pat Sajak and Vanna White!" on September 4, 1989.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Used on and off since season 10 (1992-1993):
    • Seasons 10 and 11: Anthropomorphic Wheel wedges walking down a staircase.
    • Season 12: Hand-drawn versions of Pat and Vanna "riding" the Wheel amid graphics related to the show; this animation ended with them parachuting.
    • Seasons 14 through 17: CGI of the Sony Pictures Studio, with the camera "zooming in" through the studio doors.
    • Season 23: One of three intros showing people racing to their TV sets to watch the show: one shows a man ostensibly getting ready for a date, one shows a man racing home from work, and one shows a suburban black family finishing dinner quickly, then running to the couch.
    • Season 28: Each intro is tied in to the week's theme, using the Pat and Vanna avatars from the show's Wii game. Some of these showed up again in Season 29 as bumpers.
  • April Fools' Day:
    • In 1997, Pat hosted that day's Jeopardy! while Alex hosted Wheel. Pat and Vanna also played Wheel that day, with Pat's wife, Lesly, at the puzzle board. The entire flip-flop was lampshaded heavily by the puzzles, especially the bonus puzzle TRADING PLACES.
    • In 2008, Pat revealed that he was actually bald. Vanna's reaction was priceless. It was a real wig on a bald wig.
    • In 2010, the show did ten things that were "out of the ordinary" and asked home viewers to spot them. All ten were revealed on the next show. Examples included the full-size Bankrupt wedges saying "Bankrut" [3], Charlie taking Vanna's place for a couple shots, Pat wearing a barely-visible stud earring for a whole round, etc. There were also two seconds of rodeo footage in the opening montage of tropical shots, although this was never pointed out.
    • In 2011, all of the puzzle answers (except the Bonus Round) had some form of the word "fool" in them. Amazingly, the contestants never caught on.
  • The Artifact: Now that the board uses video screens rather than trilons, Vanna isn't really needed on the show anymore, but of course they'd never just dump her because she's so inextricably associated with the show.
    • They also don't need the green circle in the middle of the wheel to do Chroma Key shots of the host and hostess being surrounded by the spinning wheel anymore (high-tech in 1980, looks downright silly in 2010), but it remains because of familiarity.
    • Similarly, the "house minimum" for a round — solve with anything less and you get a chunk of cash (originally $200, then $500, now $1,000) by default. This was initially done so the contestant would at least be able to buy something during the shopping rounds (although even that backfired at least once). Now, it's just there to make the contestant feel better for not having an opportunity to get more.
  • Ascended Meme: As mentioned under Complacent Gaming Syndrome, RSTLNE is an example of this. Most contestants would pick those letters in that exact order, and they are now given to the contestants in that order.
  • Big Eater: If there's local cuisine to be eaten during a road show, Pat and Vanna will indulge. This was even referenced in the 4000th episode, which showed footage of Pat and Vanna eating while "Eat It" played.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • For years, they'd had weeks where college students would play, and weeks where celebrities would play. They combined the ideas in 1992 for a Soap Opera College Challenge, which had one college student playing against two soap stars.
    • On one episode, there was a contestant who could imitate Forrest Gump, and another who could imitate The Road Runner. Pat then asked the former to imitate Forrest Gump as the Road Runner. He did.
    • Fictional Character is one of the show's original categories, and a category called Family (i.e., the names of two or more famous related people) was introduced in 1989. November 2007 introduced Fictional Family.
  • Brick Joke:
    • November or December 1987: Pat said at the beginning of the show that he forgot to put a belt on because he was talking to Bob Murphy (then-president of Merv Griffin Enterprises). Come the end of the show, he deliberately drops his pants. Jack Clark was laughing his way through the fee plugs.
    • November 2003: Vanna said that she wished Thanksgiving were at a different time of year, perhaps in March. Come March 2004, Pat references that discussion and presents Vanna with a turkey dinner.
  • California Doubling: The show is often themed after a major city or place (e.g., "Salute to New York", "Hawaii Week"), even if they're still filming at the Sony studios in Culver City. Not that the show doesn't do, say, a Chicago week in Chicago.
    • Several times during the original NBC run, theme weeks (always [City] Week, including Portland and Philadelphia) were used, with contestants from the appropriate city flown to Burbank.
  • The Cameo: Several episodes have had celebrities walk on after a puzzle themed toward them. Beyond these, other notable cameos include:
    • In 1980, Arte Johnson turned the letters, both to fill in for an injured Susan Stafford and to promote his new game show Knockout.
    • On a 1997 episode, Rosie O'Donnell made a cameo after her name was the answer. She then helped Vanna touch letters in the next round.
    • In September 2002, Donny Osmond made a cameo to promote Pyramid.
  • The Cast Showoff: Vanna can sing, and she's shown off her chops several times (most notably a week in December 1996 where she promoted her Christmas album Santa's Last Ride and sang a song from it every day).
    • Pat subverted this on a Christmas Week episode in 1988, where he gave an intentionally off-key rendition of "White Christmas" with Vanna accompanying him on piano.
  • Catch Phrase: "I'd like to buy a vowel" and "I'd like to solve the puzzle." In Pat's early years, he'd often follow up the latter with "For [amount], solve this [category]."
    • "Person does not always mean proper name" was a catch phrase until they finally made Proper Name its own category in 1996.
    • In the shopping era, "...once you buy a prize, it's yours to keep." This was replaced with "We're playing for cash", which Pat continued to say into March or April 1997.
    • In the first seasons with the current Jackpot round, Pat would sometimes introduce it with, "Put down that ____, Charlie, it's time for our Jackpot round!" One time, the object Charlie was asked to put down was a Viagra espresso.
  • Channel Hop: The daytime version went from NBC to CBS and back again in just under 18 months. There was a time when both versions filmed at CBS but didn't (necessarily) air on it.
  • Clip Show: The ceremonial 3,000th and 4,000th syndicated episodes.
  • Closed Captioning: In March 1986, it became the first game show to have it.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Like so many other game shows before and after it, Wheel separates the contestants into red, yellow and blue motifs.
  • Credits Gag: Since the late 2000s, full credit runs put a gag title over Pat's name (e.g., "Pumpkin Picker" on a Halloween week episode).
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Vanna has spun the Wheel several times, including a January 1984 nighttime episode. She also played a round for charity in September 1989 while Pat turned the letters.
    • Pat had laryngitis during an entire College Week taping session (aired November 18-22, 1996). On Thursday he decided to rest his voice, and had Vanna host the bonus round while he turned the letters.
    • April Fools' Day 1997, as mentioned above.
    • In early 2011, the show held a contest allowing home viewers to be "Vanna for a Day": viewers could submit video auditions, which were then voted on through the show's website. The winner, Katie Cantrell, took Vanna's place for Rounds 2 and 3 on March 24, which was lampshaded by the Round 3 puzzle IT'S HARDER THAN IT LOOKS. [4]
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pat makes a large number of self-deprecating jabs at his career. One notable instance is when a contestant claimed she had the job that paid the most money for the least amount of work, and Pat quipped, "That would be game show host."
    • He is also fond of snarking at contestants who seem to be playing the What an Idiot! card straight... or ones who are really good at playing the game. (Prime example: Claiming that a bonus puzzle will be "very difficult" when it's almost entirely filled in by the contestant's extra letters.)
      • "I'd like to solve the puzzle!" "I wish you would."
  • Department of Redundancy Department: CHURCH HYMN was a bonus puzzle once. FIREPLACE MANTEL, STAR CONSTELLATION and BABY DUCKLINGS have all shown up as Toss-Ups.
  • Double Unlock: The Million-Dollar Wedge. To win the Million, the contestant has to:
    1. Land on the wedge, which is 1/3 the width of normal wedges and surrounded by 1/3-size Bankrupts.
    2. Call a letter that's in the puzzle.
    3. Solve that round's puzzle without first hitting a Bankrupt.
    4. Win the game without hitting Bankrupt.
    5. Land on the $1,000,000 envelope (which replaces the normal top prize of $100,000) in the Bonus Round.
    6. Solve the bonus puzzle.
    • Despite the large number of steps needed and the sheer odds against it, the $1,000,000 was won just a month after its introduction by a contestant who hit it on her first spin!
    • There were also the ½ Car wedges used for one week in April 2011. Similarly to the above, the contestant had to land on two one-third-sized wedges with "car" tags on them to win a car — it was made easier by 1.) not having Car tags get lost to Bankrupts hit in subsequent rounds, and 2.) putting a new one on the Wheel in the next round if somebody got one. However, the whole week, nearly everyone's spins were about as far from either wedge as you could get...
    • The ½ Car tags were made more accessible in Season 29, as they're now just placed over dollar amounts like the Gift Tag. However, they're vulnerable to Bankrupt in all rounds.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Vanna's first official episode had some stellar gameplay, with no Bankrupts, Lose a Turns or wrong letters. However, the winner choked on the last word of the bonus puzzle GEORGE BERNARD SHAW.
    • Whenever a contestant solves the Bonus Round puzzle just after time runs out. Even more of a downer when it results in a $100,000 loss.
    • Anyone who sweeps the game but loses the Bonus Round. On November 26, 2008, a contestant did this and lost the $100,000.
    • January 2, 2011: A contestant loses $100,000. The puzzle solution? A KNOWN FACT. Her repeated guess? AN UNKNOWN FACT.
    • On December 5, 1985, a contestant missed out on winning $62,400 by guessing an "S" in the puzzle THE THRI__ OF _I_TORY AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT. She then missed out on another $10,000 in the Speed-Up round.
  • Dramatic Timpani: Used in the current Bonus Round until 1989 on nighttime, and until 1991 on daytime.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Several times.
    • When the show debuted in 1975, the "special" wedges (Bankrupt, Lose A Turn, Free Spin, and Buy A Vowel) had white outlines on the lettering and white borders, and spaces on the Wheel went as low as $25.
    • In the earliest days, contestants played puzzles to the last consonant and rarely bought vowels. Lin Bolen, who was then NBC's vice president of daytime programming, insisted on this so contestants would have more money to shop with — she thought that putting more emphasis on shopping over puzzle-playing would help the show appeal better to the female demographic. Once she was ousted for poor programming performance and replaced by Earl Greenburg, contestants began playing puzzles at their own pace.
    • Yet another mannerism that was phased out around 1985: contestants almost always used to call their letters "C as in Chuck" (though this is still a common practice among foreign versions). The producers prefer that contestants say only the letter to help minimize confusion, but variants on "Can I have a(n)..." or "Is there a(n)..." aren't rare.
    • For their entire first season of use, the Toss-Up rounds were not split-screened, meaning that viewers had no visual indication as to who had just rung in. They now use a split-screen identical to the one seen in Speed-Up rounds.
  • Enforced Plug: The Jackpot round is sponsored by various products, which get a plug at the top of the round. Some companies regularly place $1,000 gift cards on the Wheel as well.
  • Epic Fail: On at least six occasions, contestants have mispronounced a puzzle that was completely filled in, and been ruled incorrect as a result. One such occasion in January 2010 (the answer REGIS PHILBIN & KELLY RIPA) turned this Up to Eleven as the contestants had already amassed three incorrect guesses before the last letter was filled in.
    • Another contestant managed to call four of the six letters which are already given in the Bonus Round. Even worse, one of them was R, which was already in the puzzle.
    • September 19, 2007: A contestant loses nearly $40,000 in cash and a potential Prize Puzzle trip by pluralizing the puzzle.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: The top dollar amount in each round is always on a sparkly wedge. The Million-Dollar Wedge is sparkly, as was the Jackpot wedge until it went neon. When the show went HD in 2006, sparkly outlines were added to all text on the wheel. The Wild Card is sparkly as well, along with the former Free Spin, Double Play, and Star Bonus tokens. Even the late $1,000 wedge spent a few seasons dressed in sparkles.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Free Spin/Play and Lose A Turn (and from 1973-75, Buy A Vowel) are self-explanatory.
  • Fake Difficulty: Some of the bonus puzzles practically seem set up to be lost. In the 1990s, it wasn't rare to see three- to six-letter bonus puzzles, often compounded in difficulty by not having any RSTLNE in them. BABY BOY, WIG, WAX and ZOO all occurred in October 1992 alone (and amazingly, all but WIG were solved).
    • Nowadays, the difficulty is usually ramped up by relying heavily on rarely-called letters (e.g. JAZZ BAND), arcane and rarely-used phrases (e.g. WHAT A KICK), or completely arbitrary noun-adjective pairings (AVID HIKER, FAVORITE MUG).
  • Foreign Remake: Pole Chudes ("Field of Wonders", an interesting choice taken from Alexey Tolstoi's Buratino...a foreign remake of Pinocchio) is very similar, except the word is an answer to a question, you can't buy a vowel, there's Black Box instead of Mystery Wedge (you can either immediately quit the show with the contents or keep playing, it can contain anything from a house to a cabbage), ... But the most important and memetic part is the fact that most contestants come from pretty obscure and interesting places all over Russia and bring their local crafts and so on along with them to give to the host - they are then placed in the Museum, which is seriously a lot like an ethnography museum at this point, especially considering this remake has run for 21 years and counting.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Sometimes in the 1980s, Pat would scramble the letters in the bonus puzzle while Jack was reading the fee plugs, so that once the board was seen again near the end of the credits, it would say something funny (e.g. FRANK SINATRA becoming RANK RATS).
    • For a while in the mid-2000s, the Jackpot round was introduced with a shot of the contestant area with the Jackpot logo superimposed over it. Sometimes, Pat would do something funny in this shot, such as read a newspaper or "fight" Vanna with a styrofoam sword.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • 1989: The puzzle board reads _AR_EC_E S_IT. The contestant calls an "H".
    • Although the show is rated TV-G, Pat has gotten away with a few "damn"s and "hell"s.
    • January 7, 2011: First, after a Before & After puzzle of VICTORIA'S SECRET RECIPE, Pat remarked that it involved "two cups of sugar" (he did the same joke when the same puzzle was used in 1996). Then, a contestant who lost the bonus round told Pat to "show me something small" (in reference to the prize money), but Pat played up the accidental innuendo and pretended to walk off the set.
  • Guest Host: Plenty:
    • Alex Trebek filled in for both Chuck Woolery and Pat Sajak (having done the latter for one daytime episode in 1985 and the aforementioned April Fool's Day '97 show).
    • Summer Bartholomew filled in for Susan in 1977 after she hurt her back, as did Arte Johnson (as mentioned above). In 1979, Susan dislocated her shoulder in a car accident, so Summer and Cynthia Washington filled in for her for two-and-a-half weeks.
    • Summer, Vicki McCarty, and Vanna filled in between Susan's departure and Vanna's first official episode. Susan returned for a daytime Teen Week in June 1986 so Vanna could recover from the death of her then-boyfriend.
    • Tricia Gist, whom Merv Griffin's son was dating at the time, filled in for two weeks in 1991 to accomodate for Vanna's wedding, and apparently returned a couple months later due to Vanna having a bad cold.
    • M.G. Kelly was technically a guest announcer; Jack Clark wanted Charlie O'Donnell to replace him, but Charlie was under contract with Chuck Barris at the time that season 6 began.
    • Don Pardo, who had previously announced for Jeopardy!, also served as a guest announcer after Jack Clark's death and when the show went on location to Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center, where coincidentally, Jeopardy! was originally taped.
    • And after Charlie's death, several guest announcers [5] rotated until Thornton was chosen as the permanent replacement.
  • Halloween Episode: Since 1997, they almost always have a specifically-themed Halloween week, often with spooky music, smoke machines, animatronic gargoyles, and even various "scary" sound effects when a contestant picks an envelope in the Bonus Round.
  • Helium Speech: On one episode, the set was decorated with balloons, and neither Pat nor Vanna could resist. The clip can be seen on both the 3,000th and 4,000th episodes.
  • High Definition: This and sister show Jeopardy! both went hi-def in 2006, becoming the first game shows to be shot in that format.
  • His and Hers: In the late 1980s to early 1990s, his-and-hers cars were sometimes up for grabs in the bonus round.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: In the episode where Pat plays as a contestant, he says he is "very excited" to finally utter the phrase "I'd like to buy a vowel."
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: The category graphics at the bottom of the screen are usually given special wipes pertaining to that week's theme (for instance, a school bus "drives" across the category graphic on Teacher's Week). There are also wipes for the Toss-Ups, Prize Puzzle and Final Spin on every episode.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Edd Byrnes stated in his memoir "Kookie No More" that he had a few before doing the 1974 pilots. For the first pilot he was "crazy drunk", badgering one contestant who wanted to solve for $300; he kind of improved for the second pilot to "happy drunk", often saying "Wheeeeeeeee!" as the wheel spun.
    • In January 2012, Pat Sajak revealed he and Vanna used to get drunk during their two and a half hour breaks between filming.
  • Jump Cut: Present in the days that the mechanical puzzle board was used. Right after "Our category is...", they would Jump Cut to the blank puzzle board and category reveal. What the home viewer didn't see was the puzzle board getting rolled back into the studio after having that round's puzzle loaded onto it.
    • A rather blatant one shows up in a nighttime bonus round on May 5, 1986. The contestant says the right answer on the buzzer (after making a humorous mis-solve that has shown up in many specials, albeit followed by a buzzer). Since they don't have another commercial break, the only option was to stop tape before declaring that he won the Pontiac, resulting in a very sloppy edit:

Pat: To my ear, it was very tight. We're gon—
Stagehand: —winner.
(contestant screams and jumps up in air)

  • Long Runner: Wheel, counting daytime and nighttime as one series, has run for over 35 years without interruption, placing it second behind only The Price Is Right for the longest-running game show currently on the air. Even counting only the 27 nighttime seasons, it's still second only to Price.
    • The wheel itself has racked up quite a lot of mileage — with 4,215 daytime shows and 5,400+ nighttime shows, this comes out to a shade over 9,600 episodes.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Whenever a contestant lands on a Mystery wedge. One contains a $10,000 cash prize (originally, a compact car such as a Chevy Aveo) on the flip side, and the other contains a Bankrupt. The contestant may choose to flip it over, or take $1,000 per letter (originally $500). If one is flipped over, the other one functions as a regular cash space for the rest of that round.
  • No Budget: Daytime Wheel became very cheap after moving to CBS in July 1989, abandoning shopping in favor of the all-cash format of the syndicated version. Rounds 1-2 had $50 and $75 return to the Wheel, and the top value in Round 4 was $1,250; the cost of vowels was lowered to $200 and then $100 to compensate. Bonus round prizes included subcompact cars and $5,000 cash, compared to nighttime prizes that rarely dipped below $20,000.
    • Today's era of the nighttime show also shows a few signs of budget problems. Since 2010, the second Bankrupt is present throughout the entire game. In 2011, the Wild Card was moved to cover a $900 wedge, currently the second-highest value on the Wheel (not counting the $1,000 face value of the Mystery Wedge). Also, for the Prize Puzzle, the trips' destinations are now almost always restricted to North America only.
  • No Indoor Voice: This show gets its fair share of screaming contestants, particularly on Teen Best Friends Week where it's common to have teams of two teenage girls who scream like banshees at everything. Often lampshaded by Pat, who will jokingly ask such contestants to speak up.
    • Though also subverted with the overall atmosphere of the show today. Most contestants now appear to be more calm and focused. The studio audience is also noticeably more subdued and less reactive (such as not always cheering after a contestant spins the top dollar value, or not always groaning when a contestant spins a Lose a Turn) than they used to be, with or without the help of an applause machine.
  • Obvious Beta: The 1973 pilot, Shopper's Bazaar. It used a motorized carnival-style Wheel, a rotary telephone to dispense clues (if a contestant landed on the "Your Own Clue" wedge), a pull-card puzzle board, and a way-too-easy first attempt at a bonus round.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • Buying a vowel. From the 1973 pilot through some of 1975, there was a "Buy a Vowel" wedge on the Wheel. Many contestants unfairly lost their turn by hitting this without enough money to buy a vowel, or after all the vowels had been revealed. This problem was remedied by removing the wedges and making vowels available for purchase at the player's discretion.
    • The addition of a Proper Name category in 1996, thus ending more than two decades of inconsistent "Person does not always mean proper name" reminders. Strangely, the reverse is now true: Proper Name can also refer to a business, organization, etc.
    • The rename of On the Menu (introduced in Season 21) to Food & Drink in Season 24. Previously, some food-and-drink puzzles were shoehorned into On the Menu [6], while other foods that wouldn't necessarily be found on a menu were called Thing [7] or Around the House [8]. This could be seen as a Real Life example of Everything's Worse With Snowclones, as they were obviously snowcloning On the Map.
    • The introduction of the Toss-Up to decide play order. Before, a number draw backstage determined the position of the three players, meaning the person selected in the red (1st) position was always guaranteed to start two puzzles during a game, and quite possibly the yellow (2nd) player as well, leaving the blue (3rd) at a disadvantage. The Toss-Up could also use one as well, since there are two to kick off the show; one before contestant introductions and then one to decide who goes first, which doesn't seem so fair to the person who solved the first one...especially since, no matter who got the first Toss-Up, the red player starts Round 1 if the second goes unsolved.
    • Originally, the Free Spin was a regular space on the Wheel, and could be landed on multiple times (the contestant was given a cardboard disk), meaning s/he could stock up several tokens. Many contestants ended up turning in Free Spin after Free Spin and therefore hogging the Wheel, including at least one daytime episode where the blue contestant never got to touch the Wheel at all [9].
    • Initially, if contestants landed on the Jackpot wedge and called a letter, they received nothing for the called letter, not even if they solved and won the Jackpot. Now, the wedge offers $500 per letter to keep contestants from getting screwed over by a "null" spin.
    • As mentioned above, the two changes in the Bonus Round: first, by offering RSTLNE automatically, and second, by forcing the contestant to pick a random prize.
    • Reducing the cost of vowels on the daytime version after it moved to CBS to compensate for the drastically lowered budget, as mentioned above.
    • Adding $1,000 to the value of the Final Spin to reduce the number of Foregone Conclusions (although sometimes, as mentioned at Golden Snitch, this can over-compensate).
  • Once an Episode:
    • It used to be that only some games had Speed-Up rounds; since September 2002, every game has one to bring a definitive "end" to gameplay. Games could also end after three rounds, but beginning around 1998 there's a minimum of four; as such, if Rounds 1-3 take so long that the Final Spin should sound in R3, it won't - the show will instead chop the game to pieces so they can shoehorn the $3,000 Toss-Up and Round 4 in.
    • When they were first introduced in Season 21, Prize Puzzles occurred at random throughout the week. Since the Season 23 premiere, they now appear daily.
  • Once a Season: Many of the theme weeks, such as Big Money, Going Green, College Week, etc.
  • Opening Narration: From 1975-89, over a shot of the studio the announcer told the viewer to "Look at this studio, filled with glamorous prizes! Fabulous and exciting merchandise! [From 1975-77, the announcer would say something along the lines of "Wonderful and inviting items sure to dazzle the imagination." Starting sometime in 1977, he named three prizes off at random, and beginning near the end of Woolery's tenure as host in 1981, a longer description of some select items would be given] Over [amount] thousand dollars, just waiting to be won on... Wheeeeeel of Fortune! And now here's your host: [name]!" Starting in August 1983 (with the first use of "Changing Keys"), the show began using a pre-recorded chant of "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" at the very beginning over the show's logo, superimposed over the Wheel. From 1989-92, the syndicated version kept the last part of the original intro.
    • The current intro is simply the aforementioned chant, followed by "Ladies and gentlemen, Pat Sajak and Vanna White!" On road shows, it's extended to "From [venue], here are the stars of America's game, Pat Sajak and Vanna White!"
  • Out of Order: This has been done since at least the mid-1990s, but it became particularly obvious in Season 29 because the ½ Kia tags were introduced one week into the season, and the Mystery Round moved from Round 3 to Round 2 on the fifth week. However, a few episodes throughout the season were taped before one or both changes, resulting in a few episodes (including all six Halloween episodes) where the Mystery Round temporarily reverts to Round 3, and a stray episode on December 5, 2011 without the ½ Kia tags.
    • The Halloween week (which was the first taping session of the season) opted for ½ Car tags offering a Ford Fiesta, despite being taped only a day before the first aired week with the ½ Kia tags. Even more strangely, the first two episodes of the latter week did not offer $500 per consonant along with the tag, even though Halloween Week did — and stranger yet, this meant they had to tape the Kia-less season premiere week after those two weeks.
  • Pie in the Face: Vanna did this to Pat on one episode. The clip shows up often on blooper reels.
  • Pilot: The first, Shopper's Bazaar, taped in 1973 with Woolery and focused more on the prizes than the puzzles (in addition to having a vertical Wheel instead of a horizontal one). A subsequent pair taped in 1974 were much closer to the final product, but with the shopping prizes behind the puzzle board and a drunk Edd "Kookie" Byrnes hosting.
  • Call X to Lose Your Turn: There is a Used Letter Board out of camera view to show contestants which letters have been used already (contestants can often be seen looking to the side to check it before choosing their letter). If, despite this, a contestant calls a letter that's already been picked, they forfeit the turn (unless, of course, the contestant is on Free Play).
    • However, they're at least kind enough to inform contestants if all of the vowels in the puzzle have been revealed, even if all five haven't been bought yet. Even so, this has failed to stop at least one contestant.
    • Sometimes contestants forget to add an "S" on a pluralized word when solving, or vice versa. This got subverted at least once during a Teen Best Friends week where one contestant rang in on a Toss-Up and said CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE, with her partner quickly adding the S to form the correct answer.
  • Product Placement: The Sony Card is ubiquitous, along with the Sony Rewards program, since the show is produced by Sony's television division.
    • For a People magazine-sponsored celebrity week in Season 25 (incidentally, the last such week), the Show Biz category was renamed People. To discern it from the existing People category, the graphic was the People magazine logo.
    • In the late 2000s, Maxwell House sponsors the Bonus Round.
  • Prop Recycling: The Jackpot wedge design introduced in Season 26 was recycled from the previous season's Big Money Wedge.
  • Put on a Bus: The "Rock On!" category, in part because Pat would always let Charlie introduce it in a deep "rock DJ" voice.
    • Also Classic TV and Best Seller. The former had only one appearance between 2008 and 2011, and the latter has only been seen once since 2007. However, there is evidence that the re-appearance of Classic TV after a long hiatus was a fluke, as at least one classic TV-related puzzle in between was just called TV Title.
    • Chuck and Susan.
  • Rage Quit: William Shatner on a November 1997 celebrity episode following Round 2. Julie Pinson took his place for the rest of the game.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The 1974 pilots used "Give It One" by Maynard Ferguson.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • The show's third theme, Griffin's own "Changing Keys" (introduced in August 1983), was re-orchestrated in 1984, 1989, 1992, 1994 and 1997 with the last two remixes barely resembling the original. The "big band" theme from 1994 also had at least two separate remixes for special episodes, and College Weeks had a marching band play the original melody live.
    • "Happy Wheels", first introduced in September 2000, was remixed in 2002 and again in 2007. The 2002-2007 mix even sampled the 1997 version of "Changing Keys".
  • Recycled Script: Invoked on the April 6, 2011 episode, where in honor of "Going Green" week, each puzzle was "recycled" from an older episode. They even lampshaded this a bit by showing a clip from an older episode when the blank puzzle was revealed.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: One of Alan Thicke's prize cues, "Shavings", was the theme of Blank Check.
    • The bonus round timer had previously been used on the unsold Beat the Odds in January 1975 and CBS' Give-n-Take at the other end of the year.
    • One prize cue introduced in 1983 was "Frisco Disco", the theme to the 1978-79 revival of Jeopardy! Another, "Buzzword", was rearranged and became the theme to Merv Griffin's Crosswords.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: "Give It One" to "Big Wheels" to "Changing Keys" to "Happy Wheels".
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Yes, the one game show on which spelling is of the utmost priority has messed up:
    • A November 1992 episode had the bonus puzzle FOG HORN, which is actually one word.
    • On November 14, 2003, the bonus puzzle answer was PIECE OF MIND; they were obviously going for PEACE OF MIND but conflated it with A PIECE OF YOUR MIND.
    • April 26, 2010 had WAIT A WHILE in the bonus round, even though "awhile" is one word.
    • At least three bonus puzzles had incorrect hyphens in them: WIDE-AWAKE, HALF-OFF and HIGH-AND-MIGHTY.
  • Running Gag: Pat has several. Among them:
    • Using "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Nino" during interviews ("You live in Los Alamos, which is Spanish for 'The Alamos'."), or whenever a Spanish-named town is used in a puzzle.
    • Using Pluralses whenever a plural category comes up.
    • Comically Missing the Point on the Prize Puzzle, and making the contestant believe they've won a booby prize themed to the puzzle instead of a trip.
    • Saying "beep beep" or "S/he'll be right down!" after the car horn sound effect whenever a ½ Kia tag is landed on. Similarly, if a contestant has only one of the ½ Kia tags after Round 3 (the last round in which they are available), Pat often jokes that it will be parked in the ½ garage.
    • Joking about the Speed-Up music, particularly if the round is taking a long time.
    • Something along the lines of "There would be a federal investigation if you had gotten this" after a contestant fails to solve a bonus puzzle because the letters they picked weren't helpful.
    • Every spring, he tells a joke along the lines of "I thought I saw the first robin of spring, but it turned out to be a pigeon with a chapped breast." Lampshaded in April 2012, where he joked that it was the 14th year in a row he'd done that joke.
  • Same Language Dub:
    • Averted with Jack Clark, who left both versions in early May 1988 (with Charlie O'Donnell and Johnny Gilbert filling in) and died July 21. While the Summer repeats began with him doing the newly-recorded Promotional Consideration plugs before the credits, Pat and Vanna began doing them once it became evident that Clark was too ill to announce anymore. By early September, M.G. Kelly had taken over as announcer until Charlie returned.
    • Since the show tapes in a very Out of Order fashion, Charlie ended up announcing episodes that would air after his death. Wheel dubbed him over with different announcers and edited out or dubbed (often very poorly) any time Pat made direct reference to him.
    • And in Summer 2011, Jim was dubbed over the other guest announcers (although strangely, reruns of episodes originally aired before Charlie's death kept him). The official reason was to "establish" Jim, but it really smacks more of cheapness and/or displeasure in the other announcers' work.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Played for Laughs on September 12, 1996, while discussing the Jackpot round that debuted the next Monday. Pat holds the wedge upside-down and calls it the Topkcaj.
  • Scenery Porn: Some of the specially-themed weeks are given rather intricate set pieces. They go all-out on Halloween week with gag tombstones, animatronic gargoyles, a haunted house, smoke and lights, various "spooky" sound effects in the Bonus Round, etc.
  • Shaped Like Itself: A 1988 episode had a Place puzzle of SECRET HIDING PLACE.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several to sister show Jeopardy!, including JEOPARDY PREMIERES as a "The 60's" puzzle in 1995.
    • The category Rhyme Time appeared on Jeopardy! frequently before it appeared on Wheel. Jeopardy! returned the favor by adopting Before & After, which works just like its Wheel counterpart.
    • On March 9, 2004, SpongeBob SquarePants was the answer to a "Fictional Character" puzzle. After it was solved, Pat remarked "What do you mean 'fictional character'?" and then proceeded to quote the entire theme song.
    • The only logical explanation for the bizarre non-sequitur puzzle SPARROWS & PARAKEETS is that it's a reference to sparrowkeets.
  • Sudden Death: Originally, nighttime ties were broken by a Speed-Up round between the tied contestants. Since the introduction of Toss-Ups, a fourth Toss-Up is used instead.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The 1974 pilots used Maynard Ferguson's "Give It One" for the theme. When the show made it to air, it used an Alan Thicke composition called "Big Wheels", which had a rather similar melody, production and chord pattern.
  • Take That:
    • If Pat thinks the puzzle is odd, he'll make sure everyone knows. Megaword in particular was a victim of this during the six months it was used.
    • November 29, 1995: From an episode where Johnny Gilbert filled in for an ill Charlie:

Pat: This is not like Jeopardy!, you know. If somebody wins something, they actually take their money home. Not like Jeopardy!, where if you finish in second place with $10,000, you get a lounge chair!
Johnny: But it's a $10,000 lounge chair.
Pat: ...I think I struck a nerve.

    • September 22, 2003: Before the $3,000 Toss-Up, Pat said "there are shows on Game Show Network that don't give that away in a month!"
  • Technology Marches On: Even though Wheel switched to an electronic puzzle board in February 1997, people still refer to the letters being "turned" as if they were still trilons.
  • Tempting Fate: On October 21, 2003, a contestant had _____PS showing in the Bonus Round. Pat quipped "If you solve this, I'm retiring." After a few seconds, the contestant blurted out the right answer of HICCUPS.
    • November 28, 2011: Contestant has GLO_E showing. Pat says "Well, I'm gonna be surprised if you don't get this." With that setup, there's a 50/50 shot it's either GLOBE or GLOVE — guess one, and if Pat says no, guess the other. She guesses GLOVE before the timer starts, is told that it's wrong, then spends the entire 10 seconds in silence.
  • Thememobile: The contestant coordinators travel cross-country in a "Wheelmobile" (a specially-designed Winnebago), making stops at various venues to hold contestant auditions.
  • Tick Tock Tune: The Bonus Round music bed has a ticking clock sound in it.
  • Timed Mission: The Bonus Round must be solved within 10 seconds. Also, the three seconds that contestants get to solve the puzzle in the Speed-Up round.
  • Title Scream: Wheel! Of! Fortune!
  • Totally Radical:
    • The short-lived "Slang" category, where the slang used was almost always dated, obscure, or just plain nonexistent ("OFF THE BEAM", "LET'S CUT OUT OF HERE", "THE BLAHS", etc.).
    • Still happens now and then. A Teen Best Friends week in February 2011 had TOTALLY AWESOME WATER PARK as a puzzle, and the puzzles all week were (sometimes poorly) skewed towards teens in general.
    • Painfully present on Wheel 2000 — Place became Globetrotter, any puzzle about grammar became Word Rap, and Thing became Just Stuff. The Wheel on that version also had Bankrupt and Lose A Turn renamed "Creature" and "Loser", respectively.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In recent years, the show uploads a preview of next week's shows on Sony's website every weekend. Nearly every preview shows contestants landing on or picking up prizes, the $10,000 side of the Mystery Wedge, or the Million-Dollar Wedge. Occasionally, similar previews air on TV.
    • On October 13, 2010, one preview that aired near the end of the show was devoted entirely to a woman picking up the Million-Dollar Wedge, complete with suspenseful music and an announcer hinting that she would win the grand prize. When the episode aired, she lost it to a Bankrupt.
  • Trope 2000: The short-lived children's version Wheel 2000, which ran from 1997-98.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: The 1983-2000 theme, "Changing Keys". Incidentally, the name became somewhat of an Artifact Title for the 1994 and 1998 remixes, which had virtually no key changes.
  • Understatement: Pat, to million-dollar winner Michelle Loewenstein: "You may be one of our bigger winners."
  • Voice of Dramatic: Charlie O'Donnell. Starting in the late 1990s, if someone won the $25,000 in the Bonus Round, he would let them know that they'd just won "twenty-five THOOOOOOOUUUUSAND dollars!" This, of course, also applies to any other amount of money won ever since figures higher than $25,000 were offered starting in 2001-02.
    • By comparison, Jack Clark was far mellower and lower-key (but by no means phoning it in). Jim Thornton is somewhere in between.
  • Vocal Evolution: Charlie's voice got deeper over time. He also had a spell throughout most of the 1990s where he was noticeably mellower, but actually became only more enthusiastic come the 2000s (see above).
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Vanna has confirmed that she once split a zipper mid-taping, and finished the episode in a different dress.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Sometimes, the announcer will let the contestant know they won a "cash advance" of $xx,000 in the Bonus Round. It certainly isn't a "loan taken out against a line of credit or credit card, typically imposing higher-than-normal interest charges" (as Investopedia says).
  • You Say Tomato: In one episode, Pat pointed out that Charlie says "ca-RIB-be-an" and he says "CARE-uh-be-an". He then added that he says "Wheel of Fortune" while Charlie says, quote, "Wheeeeeeeeeeel of Fortune".
  1. (except for the $25,000 in Seasons 16-18; for the first few weeks of Season 19, all five envelopes were in play all week)
  2. (October 1992. Amazingly, WAX and ZOO were solved.)
  3. (Gratuitous Polish)
  4. (And yes, fans quickly realized that Wheel basically lied because two rounds mid-show isn't actually a "day".)
  5. (Lora Cain, Joe Cipriano, John Cramer, Rich Fields, Johnny Gilbert, Jim Thornton)
  6. (most egregiously the bonus puzzle BIG GULP)
  7. (such as CABBAGE)
  8. (another egregious example in the bonus puzzle ALMOND JOY)
  9. (Golden Snitch but still ended up winning thanks to a $2,000 Final Spin)