For decades, game shows have been one of America's guiltiest pleasures, and while some people will claim it's because we enjoy seeing the contestants win big money, deep down everyone knows it's because we love watching people fail on national television in a humiliating fashion. There's just something so satisfying about relaxing on our couches and seeing regular people or game show hosts crash and burn, and these botched attempts are definitely among the most cringe-worthy fails in game show history!
15 All she needed was 18 points...
When the Sass family made it to the Fast Money round of Family Feud and Tim, the family's patriarch, scored an incredible 182 points out of the 200 needed to win $20,000, all signs pointed to an easy route to the grand prize. Anna walked onto the stage and discovered that she only needed to provide host Steve Harvey with 18 points worth of decent answers, and she was appropriately enthusiastic and optimistic... right up to the point where the countdown started and she realized she didn't really have anything clever to say. To her credit, she did echo some of Tim's excellent answers and was forced to try again with a different response... but when she told Steve that "A married couple must be deeply in marriage," viewers had to question whether or not she'd get the measly 18 points she needed. Well, she didn't. She didn't earn a single point. Not one.
14 No, it STILL isn't "The pointed desert"...
Third times the charm, right? Well, apparently not on Wheel of Fortune. Middle contestant Lindsey guessed the final consonant in this puzzle, and incorrectly provided Pat Sajak with an answer of "the pointed desert." Pat informed her she was incorrect, and the next contestant, James, got his turn to either buy a vowel or solve the puzzle. His answer? "The pointed desert." Yet again, Pat informed the contestants that that was incorrect, but told James that he still had time to provide him with an alternate answer. James asked to solve the puzzle again, and provided Pat with an ingenious possibility: "the pointed desert." “It’s not ‘The Pointed Desert,’ no matter how many times you say it,” joked a frustrated Sajak, before the next contestant instantly came up with the obvious correct answer of "the painted desert."
13 God bless you
Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader proved to us that the easiest questions can sometimes end up being the most surprisingly difficult, but there is just really no excusing this Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant messing up something this simple. The question was admittedly a bit wordy, but host Meredith Viera made sure to repeat "whose initials offer a clue" so he would note the syndrome's abbreviation of "ACHOO." Eventually, a light bulb seemed to go off in his head and he provided Meredith with an immediate final answer—D, "hiccup." Sure, he seemed to instantly realize his mistake and tried changing his answer to "sneeze," but as he said "final answer," it was too late for him to change his mind.
12 Some people just get that urge
Any fan of hilarious game show fails that will haunt the participating contestant for the rest of their lives knows all about one of the most historic blunders, from all the way back in 1977 on The Newlywed Game. Bob Eubanks asked contestant Olga, "where specifically, is the weirdest place that you personally have ever gotten the urge to make whoopee?” Olga likely misunderstood the question, because she got extremely flustered and muttered out "in the ass." Her husband expected her to recall a time they had sex in his car, but he never could have guessed she'd bring up their anal experiences. Hopefully Olga's friends and family never found that footage, because such embarrassment can really end up being a pain... in the ass.
11 Hide your kids...
Hopefully Tom wasn't employed as a teacher or sports coach before his appearance on Jeopardy! because if he was... he's likely been out of a job ever since his episode aired. Most viewers likely knew that when girls are 12 and boys are 14 and they're entering adulthood, they're going through the age of puberty. However, Tom gave Alex Trebek the worst response imaginable—"the age of consent." Basically, Tom thinks common law allows him to legally sleep with 12-year-old girls or 14-year-old boys. Yikes! Hide your kids from this guy, because his mind is clearly not in the right place. Sure, he probably just provided the first "age of" legal answer he could think of, but his neighbors are surely still checking to see if he's on a sex offender list.
10 Blackjack isn't easy, but basic math should be
The game show Catch 21 is only on Game Show Network, so it's not the most popular... and it seems like that lack of popularity has led to its producers casting people regardless of whether or not they have a third grade level of intelligence. The premise of the show is simple: answer trivia questions correctly, and you get to flip a playing card. You can either keep it and add it to the card given to you at the start of the round or give it to one of your two opponents. Your goal is to get the best blackjack hand, or to make sure your opponents get a worse hand than yours. Everyone knows that to win blackjack, you need to hit or get near 21, and Kimberly was fully aware of that. However, when she answered a question and revealed a 5, she decided that instead of adding it to her 10 and making her hand a 15—which would be worse than the player on her left's hand of 16—she would just give that player to her left the 5. In turn, Kimberly gave him a hand of 21 and won him the game. Math is hard, but it isn't that hard.
9 Well, it DOES start with a "P"
This one is less of a fail on behalf of the contestants, and more of a fail on the Wheel of Fortune game designers... but it was still definitely a win for the viewers! A seemingly innocent "same letter" puzzle, the contestants were clearly meant to eventually guess "pens, pencils and paper." However, "c" and "l" aren't the most common letters for people to guess initially, so after they got all the frequently used letters out of the way, the puzzle clearly spelled out "penis" instead of "pencils." You could just tell that Vanna White was extremely nervous and eager for someone to guess another correct letter or solve the puzzle, so she wouldn't have to stand next to such a humiliating phrase.
8 Even Ken Jennings has a dirty mind!
Ken Jennings will forever go down in Jeopardy! history for setting the record for the most consecutive games played while winning an incredible 74 games in a row, netting him winnings of more than $2.5 million. He was essentially an expert at the game, but even he had his share of fails—most memorably, the time when he was asked for a term that can mean both a tool and an immoral pleasure seeker, and came up with the response of "What is a hoe?" Alex Trebek immediately said no, and the audience erupted in laughter, causing Alex to repeat "woah!" several times before adding, "they teach you that in Utah, huh?" The answer was apparently a rake, but you can't really blame Ken for this awkward mistake.
7 WHAT is that banana doing?!
Here is another example of a time a game show design crew failed in a manner that will never be forgotten or likely forgiven by the show's producers. In this round of Catch Phrase, the contestants had to solve riddles in order to unlock a hidden, moving puzzle behind the tiles. When the first tile was eliminated, they were treated to what looked like an animated banana enthusiastically pleasuring himself. Things only got worse as more tiles were removed, as a snake was soon revealed in the animation, making the masturbation insinuations even more justified. The hidden puzzle was eventually revealed to be "snake charmer," but you could barely hear it over all the laughter from the host, contestants and studio audience.
6 This woman needs to go back to elementary school
You'd think Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? would put would-be contestants through some sort of screening or audition to ensure they have at least a fighting chance to make it through the first few elementary school-level questions, but this woman proved otherwise. She was able to brilliantly deduce that Paris Hilton doesn't possess an ink sac with which to combat predators and she guessed that cheetahs don't either, leaving her with only squids and owls as options. Most young children would be able to instantly answer that squids have ink sacs and owls do not, but this woman seemingly has never read a book or been to a zoo. How this woman thought she'd go on to win the millionaire, we'll never know.
5 When in doubt, just go for some laughs
In this memorable episode, Talia went into Final Jeopardy with barely any hope of winning, and no clue which song from a 1999 animated film about censorship had a word censored from its Oscar performance. The correct answer was "Blame Canada!" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, but Talia's answer was infinitely better. In a popular SNL "Celebrity Jeopardy" skit, Norm MacDonald as Burt Reynolds tells Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek that he wants to be called "Turd Ferguson" because it's a funny name. The real Trebek had never made reference to the SNL skit, but Talia forced him to by writing "The love ballad of Turd Ferguson" as her answer. It may have lost her the $600 she'd earned over the course of the show, but the laughs she caused made the move well worth it.
4 Easiest showcase win ever
The Price Is Right model Manuela Arbelaez had been with the popular CBS game show for six years without making any major mistakes, but last April, she made a blunder that will forever be known as her legacy. Andrea, the contestant, had to guess the price tag of a vehicle, and had three chances to do so. However, before she was able to guess the second price tag, Arbelaez pulled the tag off and revealed the winning price of the Hyundai Sonata SE. Andrea began instantly cheering that she won, and the model covered her mouth and hid in embarrassment as Drew Carey was forced to award Andrea with the $21,960 car. Manuela got to keep her job, but she hasn't been involved in many car showcases since then.
3 It took WAY too long for someone to win Gilbert's square
Fans of the now-retired Hollywood Squares game show will never forget Gilbert Gottfried's "You fool!" episode, and for good reason. In the show, the celebrities are each in a tic-tac-toe square and asked questions, and the contestants have to either agree or disagree with their answers to earn their respective "X" or "O" in their square. Both contestants needed Gilbert's square to win the game, but neither could seem to be capable of reading his poker face. When Gilbert was telling the truth, they assumed he was lying, and when he was being dishonest, they believed he was telling the truth. Each time they were incorrect, the screechy comedian taunted them by yelling "you fool!" Host Tom Bergeron had to ask Gilbert an unheard-of six questions before a contestant finally fell on the right side of the 50/50 chance of guessing correctly, and that's only because Tom asked Gilbert a ridiculously easy question about which two words were mashed together to make the word "smog"—smoke and fog. If the questions remained even on a high school level, the game would still likely be going on today.
2 Get it, girl!
Any lover of The Price Is Right knows that contestants are known to get a bit over-excited, but few have been quite as enthusiastic as this woman, who tried giving announcer George Gray a bit of oral pleasure after her big win. Okay, maybe that's not exactly what she was trying to do... she ran over to give him a hug, but tripped on the carpet and fell face-first into Gray's crotch. Model Chrissy Teigen tried to help the pair, and gave Gray some pretend CPR to make it seem like the show wasn't just falling into chaos, but host Drew Carey could barely keep it together throughout the whole embarrassing ordeal and couldn't stop laughing. No wonder George is normally a behind-the-scenes type of announcer!
1 The most tragic game show contestant ever
Indiana University freshman Julian Batts somehow went on to win his episode of Wheel of Fortune, but he filled his episode with more fails than potentially any contestant in the last decade. First, he filled in every letter of the puzzle "Mythological hero Achilles," but lost when he pronounced the hero's name as "A-chill-is. Then, he lost a car by trying to guess "World's fastest car" instead of "World's fastest man," when the category was "person." Finally, he tried guessing "on the spot dicespin" instead of the popular and obvious phrase, "on the spot decision." In an interview with ABC, he cited nerves as the cause of his numerous blunders. Host Pat Sajak admitted that he's never seen anyone take "a more circuitous route to victory."