Game shows and sitcoms are a lot like chocolate and peanut butter. Two different things which shouldn’t work together and yet when they are combined just complement each other perfectly. This goes back as far as The Honeymooners which had an episode where Ralph appeared on “The 99,000 Answer”. I guess it makes sense, since sitcom characters are supposed to be everyday people (in theory) so why wouldn’t it work if they appeared as contestants? It also gives the game show a chance to be seen by people outside their normal demographic that may not watch/
I am only talking today about sitcom episodes regarding real game shows. There are two reasons for this. One, if I included episodes with fake game shows we’ll be here all day. And second, for some reason I usually do not like those kinds of episodes. Not sure why, maybe because the game show that is being made up is often done like a parody of game shows. That is fine on SNL but a sitcom?
The trope is pretty simple. Usually the characters lose, and embarassingly so, or if it is a dim witted character they win and win huge! So here are some memorable sitcom episodes regarding a cast member(s) appearing on a real life game show.
I love YouTube. Where else can I find old TV Shows that no one has ever heard of? This was a Donna Pescow vehicle in the late 70’s. And in one episode the family appears on Family Feud! Richard Dawson appears and the episode seemed decent enough. See, Angela’s in-laws are uptight snobs so the episode had the down to earth family vs the snob family who is out of touch with “average” people. At least in this episode they made it look like the show was being taped on location and not just in the usual studios.
The Odd Couple
Oscar and Felix appeared on Password and Let’s Make a Deal in two different episodes. On Password Alan Luden hosted and Betty White also appears as the celebrity panelist. Of course they lose because Felix uses words Oscar has never heard before. On Let’s Make a Deal they are dressed as a horse. They actually win this time, but Felix knows Monty Hall which prohibits them from winning in the end.
Laverne & Shirley
Lenny and Squiggy appear on The Dating Game. I can’t seem to find any info or clips, but knowing Lenny and Squiggy I can imagine how that went.
Sanford and Son
Fred and Smitty appear on “The Gong Show” and perform a musical duet, Chuck Barris guest stars. The Gong Show was also featured on What’s Happening and The Carol Burnett Show.
The Brady Brides
I talked about this during Brady week, but in this silly series we got a really silly episode. Bob Eubanks arrives at Marcia and Jan’s house due to car trouble, and realizes their husbands differences would make them great contestants on The Newlywed Game. And that’s just what happens. I don’t remember how it ended and frankly I don’t care.
GimmeeÂ A Break
Nell and Addie played on a special â€œfriendsâ€ edition of the daytime version of Wheel of Fortune. Of course the girls competed for the entire game. But Nell loses when she wises off rather than giving the real answer. Of course Pat and Vanna appear as themselves. This is a small part of a larger episode set in New York.
This series had some sort of love of game shows, doing three episodes on three different shows! One had Mary and Sondra appearing on Wheel of Fortune. In the end Mary blows the final question. Yes Pat and Vanna appear. Another episode that, as you may imagine, I love was the Family Feud episode. The whole cast appears on a “special” neighbors episode of Family Feud starring Ray Combs. I wont give the whole synopsis but this time Lester blows the game, thanks to Mary’s dumb advice. And they weren’t allowed to win why? Finally, Sondra appeared on The Love Connection with Chuck Woolery in yet another episode.
The family appeared on Family Feud with Richard Dawson. Mama loses by using the cliche of going on her own with an answer rather than going with the family who had the right answers. In another episode Mama appeared on Jeopardy with Alex Trebek, she does badly but ends up winning almost by accident.
I think everyone knows this one. Cliff gets to appear on Jeopardy! Here’s the thing, I don’t care much for this episode. The joke with Cliff is that he does not really know what he pretends to know. And yet when he appears on the game show he does well until the final round. That makes no sense; it almost felt like the creators were afraid to make Cliff an idiot and played it safe by having him do well but foolishly wager all his winnings in the final round. We never even see him play the regular game, which is weird, and they have fake categories suited just for Cliff that would never appear on the real show. Then suddenly, it’s at the end and he has mysteriously amassed a ton! This works fine when a dream sequence, but if it was supposed to be taken as real they missed.The final scene with Alex Trebek in the bar was funny.
The Golden Girls
In one episode Dorothy has a chance to be on Jeopardy! In a dream sequence she is bested on the show by Rose and Empty Nest character Charlie in a weird crossover. Alex Trebek and Merv Griffin appear. When she tries out for the real show she does well but her arrogant attitude causes her to be passed over as a contestant.
In a dream sequence, Joey dreams he is on Jeopardy as a genius. Is it me, or I have said Jeopardy an awful lot? This was a small part of the episode but still a decent cameo by Alex Trebek.
Joey appears on Pyramid during “Soap Opera Week” with host Donny Osmond appearing. Unlike Cheers, Friends stayed true to the character and Joey was as dumb as you would expect on this show. They had to play with the rules a bit in the end but it’s still a good episode.
Fran appears on Hollywood Squares in a weird episode which includes a cameo by Whoopi Goldberg. Maxwell is the contestant and Fran need to get a message to him because she is ovulating or somethingâ€¦it was lame.Â A much better episode had her playing on Jeopardy, and much like Mama’s Family, Fran ends up winning almost by accident. She does a goofy dance which people still remember.
One thing I did not mention when talking about Millionaire on Monday. With this being as big a hit as it was, you knew ABC was going to do a tie in. And they did, in this episode where Paul appears on the show with Regis. The problem with the episode is the A story, about the mayor being stuck in a hole. What? But the Millionaire stuff was good and PaulÂ even wins the big prize in the end! Only to lose it all by the next episode.
One episode had Cybil become a vocalist on Name That Tune with Tom Kennedy appearing
This was a horrible Julia Louis Dreyfuss series. Not much to say except that in this episode Richard Karn appears and had the entire cast on an episode of Family Feud. It was also the final episode of that series to air.
How I Met Your Mother
A running story line on this show is Barney believing that Bob Barker was his real dad. It only stands to reason this would lead to an appearance on The Price is Right. Barney appears on the show and does quite well playing plinko and spinning the big wheel but can’t bring himself to ask Bob Barker the burning question.
The King of Queens
This barely counts, but here it is anyway. In an episode where Doug is sick and having dreams of TV shows, one segment has him, Carrie, and Arthur on Wheel of Fortune. Pat and Vanna have a cuite cameo.
Man, Jeopardy has appeared on a lot of shows! Not just sitcoms either. It also appeared on Beverly Hills, 90210 in a dream sequence. By the way Vanna White also guest starred on Full House which had an homage to the game show even though no characterÂ every actually appeared on it. But want to hear something really crazy?Â The A-Team had an episode where Murdock appeared on Wheel of Fortune!Â I didnâ€™t believe it either, but itâ€™s true it had Pat and Vanna and everything.
What about other kinds of competitions? On Yes, Dear a whole episode involved Jimmy appearing on Big Brother. Both Ellen and Family Matters had an episode where American Gladiators was featured. The Family Matters one with Carl and Steve was really weird.
So as you can see, sitcoms and game shows have a long history together. I feel like I missed some, if I did please let me know. That is it for game show week, I hope you enjoyed these articles were able to relive some great memories!