Wheel of Fortune timeline (syndicated)/Season 35
Wheel of Fortune timeline (syndicated)
Wheel of Fortune timeline (syndicated)/Season 34
Wheel of Fortune timeline (network)
Over its history,Wheel of Fortunehas used a great variety ofcategoriesfor its puzzles. TheShoppers Bazaarpilot used three (Person, Place, and Thing), with the 1974 pilots adding at least Fictional Character; an old version of the shows website said thatWheelhad six when it debuted, while the firstboard gameuses the aforementioned four plus Event, Landmark, Phrase, and Title. The First Edition games lack of plural forms would suggest that they were not used in the earliest days, although Things and People were used in the Second Edition (albeit four times in total, suggesting that plural forms had only just been introduced).
: Introduced on September 6, 1999 as a more specific subset of Thing, focusing on things within or close to a household. For its first season of use, its category strip had a crayon drawing of a house.
: Introduced on February 27, 1989. Consists of two phrases, names, etc. combined by a word that ends the first and starts the second (e.g., WHEEL OF FORTUNE COOKIE, which combines
and fortune cookie). Perhaps to make the answer structure more obvious, most Before & After puzzles in the late 2000s have the connecting word on its own line if possible.
have had their own takes on this category. For example, Germanys version of Before & After was 2 in 1: regular categories making up each of the two phrases were given to the players and eventually shown to the home audience, starting with the one making up the first part of the puzzle; the linking word was distinguished by colored boxes, blue when a letter in that word was concealed and orange when revealed. The United Kingdoms version of
had The Common Word where, unlike most other versions of the show, the linking word was said twice whenever a puzzle was solved (for instance, if the puzzle was TEA PARTY HAT, the contestant solved the puzzle as TEA PARTY; PARTY HAT.).
: The answer is the name of a famous book or books. Introduced on September 8, 2004 (curiously, in Round 5) and very rarely used; its last four uses were February 8, 2007, April 22, 2011, March 10, 2017, and October 31, 2017. Although the plural form is on the official category list, it has never been used.
: A self-explanatory category, debuting on August 28, 1974 (specifically, the firstEdd Byrnespilot) as
. The category was renamed on January 22, 2013 to make it more inclusive for
of characters; it had last appeared under its original name on December 5, 2012, although the old name was present on February 20, 2013 due to it being taped out of order (although the Twitter Toss-Up on June 17, 2015 was categorized as Fictional Character). Ever since the name change, its category strip has been in the wrong font (Arial instead of Gotham) for several years afterward.
: Introduced on September 16, 1996, and until September 2000 used a drawing of a console TV on its category strip. Although usually used for classic TV shows, it may also refer to characters or events from them. It is rarely used nowadays, with its last three uses being May 6, 2008, April 2, 2010, and January 9, 2013; further, the December 8, 2008 show had THE GOLDEN GIRLS categorized as TV Title, suggesting that the show may have intended to retire Classic TV between May and December 2008, and that its two subsequent uses were flukes. It has also been used as a Twitter Toss-Up on several occasions.
: Introduced on October 24, 2005 and used only during College Weeks, resulting in extremely sporadic usage. The category features things or events applicable to college.
: An activity or occurrence of some kind, sometimes with a gerund or participle phrase. In the 2000s, this category was extended to include nearly any instance of a word or phrase ending in -ING, which was countered somewhat with the introduction of What Are You Doing?
: Introduced on December 25, 1989, the first show of a nighttime Family Week. The puzzle is the name of two or more famous people who are closely related, or rarely, the name of a well-known family (e.g., THE NEVILLE BROTHERS). It was not used between November 16, 2011 and November 20, 2013, and has not been on TV since; however, it was a category on a Twitter Toss-Up on July 6, 2017.
: Introduced on September 6, 2004, the category may encompass any term relating to sports, games (including video games), or other similar recreational activities. The first known category to be introduced in a Toss-Up.
: Introduced on September 10, 2003 as
, and renamed on September 11, 2006 (the Season 24 premiere), most likely to be all-inclusive for items that would not necessarily be found on a restaurant menu. Some food- and drink-related puzzles in Seasons 21-23 were categorized as Thing, Around the House, or In the Kitchen, while others were shoehorned into On the Menu (most notably the bonus puzzle BIG GULP on October 25, 2005, on which Pat commented). Second-level contestant auditions continued to use On the Menu until at least early 2010.
: Introduced on September 3, 1996, and very rarely used to the point of disappearing entirely between September 29, 2011 and September 23, 2013. Until September 2000, its category strip had a drawing of a rolled-up newspaper. In most, and likely all cases, the puzzles appear to be derived from actual newspaper or news article headlines.
: Introduced on November 27, 1989, althoughPat Sajaks comments suggest it had been used earlier; if this was the case, either the puzzles were discarded or it actually debuted in Season 6. Puzzles in this category are the names of two famous people who are married to each other at the time of the puzzles airing (although on at least two occasions, it is known to have used the name of two historical figures who happened to be married). Despite the show having already begun to use ampersands by Season 7, this category continued to spell out AND until at least the mid-1990s.
: Introduced on November 8, 2005 as a self-explanatory subset of Around the House. Since about Season 27, the category has been used very sporadically, with all but one appearance from November 2010 to September 2017 being in Round 4+ or as a Toss-Up.
: Used for specific buildings, monuments, and other structures. There is no record of the plural form being used until April 29, 2014.
: Introduced on March 14, 2001 as a subset of Thing. The category includes animals, plants, etc.
: Subsets of Quotation. Debuted on September 29 and October 3, 2011, respectively, although no mention was made on either episode of these being new categories. The official category list indicates that these categories may be followed by a bonus question asking for the movie or TV show which provided the quote, although this has only happened once (on November 8, 2011).
: Known to have debuted sometime between mid-1975 and March 27, 1979. Despite its longevity, there are only seven known instances of the plural form being used, the first known being in 2004.
: Introduced on April 14, 1999 as a more specific subset of Place. Includes cities, countries, and any other specific named geographical feature.
: Until the introduction of Proper Name in Season 14, proper names of famous people were included in this category. Previously, contestants were reminded by the host that Person/People does not always mean proper name(s)., and whether the reminder was used denoted whether it
a proper name (if used, it wasnt; if omitted, it was). Starting around Season 6, some puzzles that were proper names would include a descriptive phrase (e.g. PEANUTS CARTOONIST CHARLES SCHULZ), which has occasionally continued into the present day with Proper Name.
: Possibly the most frequent category, although one recollection claims it was not present when the show debuted. The plural form is listed on the shows official category list, but its only confirmed use is sometime in Season 17; the category lists sample puzzle YOU WASH ILL DRY suggests that Phrases is any two (or more) related phrases separated by a comma or otherwise used consecutively. At least one puzzle in the 2010s (KNOCK KNOCK WHOS THERE? on November 8, 2013) met the criterion for Phrases, but was categorized as Quotation instead.
: Until the introduction of On the Map, specific geographical locations were included in this category; it now includes only generic places. Since the retirement of Fictional Place, fictional locations are now categorized as Place as well.
: Introduced around October 1996, possibly around September 25 given that Pat mentions it as a new category on that episode (despite it not being used that day). Besides referring to the name of a famous person, this category has also been used for a sports team, college, or (far more rarely) business.
: Known to have debuted sometime between mid-1975 and January 18, 1978. Song Lyrics, Movie Quote, and TV Quote were spun off from this category.
: Introduced on November 12, 1998. The puzzle is a phrase with rhyming words in it, a list of thematically similar things whose names rhyme, or far less commonly, a single word with rhyming syllables.
: Introduced on September 15, 2010. The puzzle in this category is a phrase with each word beginning with the same consonant. Occasionally, ampersands are used. Beginning in Season 32, contestants receive a $1,000 bonus for calling the Same Letter. The category has only been used as a Toss-Up four times, all four in the season of its introduction, and it was
used during the Las Vegas episodes taped in Season 31 despite several puzzles at the sessions meeting the criterion.
: Introduced on September 6, 1988. This puzzle includes two names, phrases, etc. that end in the same word (e.g., ARETHA & BENJAMIN FRANKLIN or SEWING & SLOT MACHINE). From about 1992-96, it sometimes used three names (e.g., BERMUDA ELECTRICAL & SHORT SHORTS).
Originally, AND was spelled out, but after nearly every contestant called N-D-A first, the word was replaced by an ampersand on July 18, 1989, which carried over to nighttime that September. Around Season 30, the category began spelling out AND again with increasing frequency (although there were a few isolated instances of this for nearly a decade prior).
: Introduced on September 9, 1996. Puzzles in this category pertain to the entertainment industry in some way. Of the few categories to use unique wipes in the 1990s, this was the only one to have its wipe change: the first wipe was a pair of crossed spotlights, which was changed in Season 17 to a star. As with the other category-specific wipes, the latter was removed in September 2000.
(e.g., MARIAH CAREYS DREAMLOVER), and known to have been used since at least April 26, 1993. The Song/Artist variant (e.g., MACARENA BY LOS DEL RIO) debuted by April 30, 1996, although the show alternated between the two until March 3, 2008 before settling on Song/Artist.
: Introduced by December 11, 2001 as a self-explanatory subset of Quotation.
: Introduced on July 17, 1989 (Bob Goens first daytime episode) as
, the puzzle lists an actor and a character they are known for portraying, separated by the word AS. At least twice, it has been used for celebrity voice-acting roles. It has been rarely used for most of the 2010s, going on a long hiatus from May 20, 2011 to April 1, 2013.
The original name was only used for three months, with the rename on October 16. It was very likely renamed to make it inclusive for actors portraying real-life people, as the October 4 nighttime puzzle GEORGE C SCOTT AS PATTON was categorized as People. Indeed, the nighttime show only used the original name
, on October 6. Person/Fictional Character has the distinction of being the only category besides Fictional Character itself to use two rows of the 1983-95 category chyrons.
Star & Role seems to have entered a brief hiatus around March-June 1997, as at least three puzzles in its format were categorized as Classic TV instead. The category returned for certain on September 9 of that year. A puzzle in the Star & Role format was also categorized as Classic TV on January 8, 2004.
Stars & Roles has been used at least twice: February 8 and October 17, 2005.
: Possibly the category that has been split up the most. Around the House, Food & Drink, In the Kitchen, Living Thing, and What Are You Wearing? are all unarguable subsets.
) were introduced in Season 23 (TV on September 12, Movie on September 19, Song on October 13). As a result, Title itself has become increasingly sporadic. On rare occasions, TV Title refers to a network instead of a TV show. Of all the plural categories, Titles is probably the least used besides Phrases; there are only three known instances of Titles, and one of TV Titles.
: The name of a famous book or other literary work and its author, separated with the word BY. A subset of Title, known to have been used since at least October 28, 1991 although Pats comments there suggest it was introduced in Season 8. Similarly to Song/Artist, this was sometimes inverted as
(with the authors name taking the possessive form) from at least March 4, 1996 through February 25, 2008; since then, only Title/Author has been used, with two exceptions on June 6, 2012 and October 21, 2013. In both this and Song/Artist, Pat reads the slash in the category name as and.
: Introduced on September 12, 2007 and usually guarantees that an -ING ending will be somewhere in the answer, generally in the first word. There are seven instances where an -ING has not appeared: three puzzles in mid-Season 27, one in Season 29, and three in Season 30, the last of which was a bonus puzzle.
: Introduced on September 14, 2017. The puzzle can be used for articles of clothing, accessories, makeup, or other items that can be worn, including fashion brand names. It may also include facial expressions.
Introduced in Season 10, and definitely by October 26, 1992, these puzzles included things and events related to the decade in question. For about their first season of use, they were followed by a $1,000 trivia question (asked by Charlie) related to the decade in question. These are given their own section due to their more complex history:
The oldest known decade to be used is
, with known uses on December 28, 1992, April 9, 1993, and October 18, 1994.
The decades were written out as words instead of numbers (e.g.,
) until September 1995, when the category strips changed. The apostrophe was removed in 2003 (almost certainly at the beginning of Season 21).
was actually used within the 1990s itself at least twice.
onward were used, and their last known regular use was The 90s on November 8, 2006.
(with apostrophe) made a one-time return on April 6, 2011 as part of a special recycled puzzles episode in honor of Going Green Week.
The line returned in Season 30, once again with apostrophes: The 90s on September 18, 2012, The 80s on September 20, and The 70s on October 12. Their first use in Season 31 did not come until December 18, when The 80s was used in Round 4. Since their reinstatement, the puzzles have been largely about media popular in the decade, with some using the format of Star & Role or Song/Artist.
In Season 32, the only use of a decades category was a single apperance of The 90s on February 19, 2015. They also did not appear at all in Seasons 33 or 34, but The 80s returned in Season 35 – both independently and attached to existing categories (e.g. 80s Song Lyrics).
has never been used, despite the decade having passed and the aforementioned presence of The Nineties in the 1990s.
The Sharedata games of the 1980s used
The NES games listed Fictional Character(s) as
reissue in 1992 listed Song Title (predating the show by well over a decade),
(an unknown category that is clearly not Same Name, as that is also listed on the box).
The two PlayStation games (1998 and 2000) contain, but never use, Person/Title, Foreign Word, and Slang.
Around 2002, the shows online game used
, somewhat based on the Bob Stewart series of the same name. Puzzles used four terms, one on each line, and the terms connected with the one above and/or below (e.g., CORDLESS TELEPHONE LINE SEGMENT).
, a more specific version of Movie Title. They also use
for Best Seller, and inconsistently refer to TV Title as
Some other video game versions, including the original Facebook game, also use
for the names of individual family members (e.g. BROTHER & SISTER) instead of the way the category is used on the actual show.
The 2012 THQ games containquite a few unused audio files of Pat announcing categories not used in the game, including
(possibly a renaming of Rock On!) and
The latter is known to be on the official category list that is given to contestants, defined as Any place, location, or destination one might visit; how it would differ from Place is unknown, especially since the given examples (NASSAU IN THE BAHAMAS and THE CANADIAN ROCKIES) do not differ from Place, On the Map, or Landmark.
: Used only once, in Round 3 on March 27, 1996; the answer was RAVELS BOLERO. There are two known examples of the concept being used beforehand: IRVING BERLINS WHITE CHRISTMAS on December 29, 1989 and HANDELS MESSIAH in April 1993, respectively categorized as Thing (although at the time, Person/Title would have been more logical) and Artist/Song.
: Introduced on November 30, 2007 as a subset of Fictional Character and Family. Last used March 23, 2012, it was not officially retired until January 2013 when it was combined back into the then newly-renamed Character(s). The audio files in the 2012 THQ games include one for
, which was never used despite the feasibility of doing so (e.g., THE FLINTSTONES AND THE JETSONS).
: A subset of Place, known to have been used since at least May 30, 1995, although one recollection claims that it was in use since at least 1985. Last used September 21, 2012, it was not officially retired until January 2013, at which point it was officially merged back into Place. Despite its longevity, it was very rarely used, and often appeared no more than two or three times per season.
: Introduced sometime around mid-Season 9 (definitely by March 4, 1992). It is not known why the former had a plural form. They were last used early in Season 10; on September 14, 1992 (the last known appearance of Foreign Phrase), Pat explained that the answer MAZEL TOV has several acceptable Anglicized pronunciations, giving a very likely explanation for the short life of the foreign categories. Another likely explanation is that there are not very many non-English terms with which the average contestant would be familiar.
: Known to have debuted sometime between mid-1975 and May 31, 1979, remaining through at least December 19, 1994 (although it appeared during an early-2002 audition in Chicago where the puzzle was AIR JORDAN). Given its very sporadic use in this timespan and no known examples between 1979 and 1988, it has been extremely difficult to pinpoint the categorys life.
: Similarly to Show Biz, the answers were subjects that could be found in
magazine. The category strip used the magazines logo. Used from October 15-November 23, 2007, with the regular People not used to avoid confusion (although Person was retained).
: Known to have been used since at least August 24, 1989 and as late as October 26, 1995. A subset of Title, the puzzle listed an actor/actress and a work they are famous for, separated by the word IN (or sometimes STARS IN or STARRING IN). The category appears to have been retired before March 1996, as a puzzle in that format was categorized as The 70s on March 20; it was definitely gone by the introduction of Proper Name that September, although the puzzles format has been sporadically used since that point in Show Biz.
: Introduced on October 25, 2005. Puzzles were themed to rock music in some way, most often referencing a rock act and song and sometimes taking the form of Song/Artist or Artist/Song. The category has only two known appearances as a Toss-Up: January 6, 2006 and October 1, 2009. Charlie introduced the category in a deep voice, except for April 25, 2006 (unknown reason) and October 5, 2009 (Pat deliberately introduced it in a deadpan voice, likely as a call-back to Charlie missing his cue to do so on the 1st). On its last two appearances (December 3, 2010 and February 9, 2011), Charlie
announce the category as usual, but it was overdubbed with Pat, as part of the overdubbing done on episodes originally announced by Charlie that aired after his death. The category was most likely retired in his honor, although it is known to be on the official list regardless.
: Used only once sometime in Season 13, likely March 1996; according to various recollections, the answer appears to have been SOUTH PACIFICS YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME. Despite its single use, it is used in the 1997 Nintendo 64 game as Song/Show, one example being MEMORY FROM CATS.
: Introduced on September 7, 1992 and used until about June 21, 1995. Many of its puzzles were archaic or, in some cases, outright-fabricated terms (such as OFF THE BEAM on March 6, 1995). This category may have been retired due to a gradual shift away from shorter main-game puzzles.
From 1990-2008, the show had categories which offered the contestant a bonus for answering a question related to the puzzle. Initially worth $500 ($250 on daytime), they increased to $1,000 in November 1995, $2,000 in Season 14, and $3,000 in Season 17. The bonus question was indicated by a chime previously used on the 1987-88 revival ofHigh Rollers.
Originally, if the contestant who solved the puzzle did not give a correct response to the bonus answer, it was offered to the next contestant(s) in line until someone gave a correct answer or until all three contestants had guessed incorrectly. If the correct response was provided, it appeared on the chyron. Starting in November 1995, only the contestant who solved the puzzle was allowed to guess, a rule that had previously been used by Megaword.
From 1990-92, a light saxophone Tah-Dah sting was used as the cue if a contestant gave the right answer. It was replaced by the puzzle-solve cue on either September 16 or 18, 1992, and then by its own cues in 1997. This line of categories was phased out gradually in the late 2000s, with Where Are We? being the last to retire in November 2008. Season 28 brought back the line with Whats That Song?, but it was rarely used; it also did not use the chimes or display the correct response on the chyron.
Another notable feature of some of the bonus categories is that, in those which used three segmented answers (e.g., the three answers in a Fill In the Blank or the three clues in a Where Are We? puzzle), segments which required two lines were normally indicated by a hanging indent if such an arrangement could fit on the board.
Starting in Season 10, the regular categories occasionally came with trivia questions pertaining to the answer, available only to the contestant who solved the puzzle. Until the end of Season 13, such questions were indicated by four low-pitched beeps and asked by Charlie; after this, they also used theHigh Rollerschimes and were asked by Pat. Such questions last appeared on May 23, 2005 with the Quotation ILL GET YOU MY PRETTY AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO!, but returned on November 8, 2011 with the same puzzle (now Movie Quote) for what turned out to be a one-time use. Although these questions were originally valued at $1,000, they increased to $2,000 and then $3,000 when the bonus categories did.
Also used as bonuses for regular categories were theRed-Letter Puzzles(1993-95) andPuzzler(1998-2000).
Until at least 2010, second-level contestant auditions used at least Who Is It? and Slogan, albeit without the question. Despite this, the official category list included several of these long after their last appearances on the show.
: The puzzle described a specific object, with the bonus awarded for identifying the object. Apparently introduced in October 1990, last used around May 13, 2004. Until the introduction of Who Is It? and Where Are We?, Clue puzzles sometimes described people, fictional characters, or places as well.
: Debuted in Season 10, definitely by December 25, 1992. Fill In the Blank is unique in that the name actually referred to two different categories:
Initially, Fill In the Blank was a phrase with a word or words missing from either the middle or end (indicated by a question mark), and the contestant received a bonus for providing the exact missing portion.
Sometime around January 1994, the new Fill In the Blank was introduced. This one was a word puzzle similar to
, where the answer was three (sometimes four) phrases, names, etc. that had a missing common word, almost always at the beginning (e.g.,? DOE? DEERE? THE BAPTIST for answers of John Doe, John Deere, and John the Baptist). It is known to have been retired sometime between May 29, 2000 andSeptember 2002, although it appears that the category solely used the question marks at the beginning from about 1998 onward. This concept was used at least once, without question marks, on a Clue puzzle in 1993 (BOOK CHEESE RIBBON, the missing word being blue).
Interestingly, both versions of Fill In the Blank were used interchangably until about November 4, 1994, the last known time the old version was used. The old version was likely retired due to the introduction of the very similar Next Line Please.
For no particular reason, both versions were simply called Blank on the category strips until sometime between February 15 and May 24, 1995, althoughthe Australian versionused Blank through the end of its original run in 2006. Likely around the same time, the puzzles had the question marks already revealed at the outset, as opposed to Vanna turning them like any other punctuation on the trilon board.
: A phrase with a missing number in it, indicated by number signs; debuted on April 7, 1998, last appeared April 28, 2004. There are at least two known instances of puzzles in this category using two numbers, one of which was its last appearance, although it is not known whether either instance was categorized as Fill In the Number
: An eight- to thirteen-letter word, with the bonus given for using the word in a sentence (at which point the word would be displayed on the chyron). Debuted on September 20, 1994 and last seen April 7, 1995, with at least 31 playings during that time.
Megaword was likely retired for several reasons. The most obvious reason for its short life was Pats clear dislike for the category, as he would make sarcastic remarks about it on nearly every appearance (sometimes, even on episodes where it was not used), and even Vanna and Charlie are known to have made jokes at the categorys expense. Another likely reason is the unusually high difficulty many Megaword puzzles took a very long time to play due to their lack of common letters (an extreme example being OXIDIZED on March 15, which took 11 turns before any letters were revealed and another 12 before it was solved, with the overall round lasting 5 minutes and 40 seconds). Other times, it was obvious that players were unfamiliar with the word, leading to incorrect answers with only vowels remaining or, in at least one case (PRISTINELY on December 16), the entire answer revealed. Unusually for a bonus category, it appeared in a Speed-Up at least four times.
Further, the judging on sentences did not appear to hold much weight on the word being used in a proper context, with only one known sentence (The contestants did not know what the word PROLIFERATION meant. on December 9) not being accepted. There are only two known instances of contestants
attempting to provide a sentence: HAPHAZARDLY on September 27 and COPACETIC on December 22.
Megaword is also one of the few categories to appear in some official form after its retirement: the 1996
day-by-day calendar uses a Megaword puzzle of LABYRINTH on February 10.
On April 30, 2014, contestant Trent mentioned the category in his interview, with Pat also mentioning his dislike of the category.
: An incomplete phrase or quotation, which the contestant received a bonus for completing. Unlike the old-style Fill In the Blank, puzzles did not indicate the end of the incomplete phrase with a question mark. Debuted on December 9, 1994 and was last used April 17, 2008.
: Debuted in Season 13 (sometime between early December 1995 and February 9, 1996) as
, and renamed that September when the bonus value increased. The puzzle was the slogan of a product or company, and the bonus question involved identifying the associated company.
At least five Slogan puzzles did not use the bonus question due to the product name being in the answer: LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR STATE FARM IS THERE during the week of November 15, 1999; YOURE IN GOOD HANDS WITH ALLSTATE during the week of September 25, 2000; LEGGO MY EGGO on January 21, 2004; CHOOSY MOMS CHOOSE JIF on May 3, 2004; and CALGON TAKE ME AWAY on March 21, 2005. The latter three were also Toss-Ups, further explaining the lack of bonus question. Also, the Toss-Up Slogan puzzle A DIAMOND IS FOREVER on February 24, 2005 did not use the question, despite the product name (De Beers)