10 Insanely Shocking American Game Show Moments

American game shows are super popular right now, as they have been for the past few decades, and they are a mainstay in many American households in the evening. You won’t be surprised to hear that due to this popularity there hasn’t been a shortage of moments that left all of those involved shocked and stunned. 

In this article, we’ll be exploring 10 TV game show moments that were completely jaw-droppingly shocking, telling you exactly what happened and why it was so shocking at the time.

1. Prize at the top

In 2016, the game show “The $100,000 Pyramid” saw one of its biggest shocks when a contestant managed to win the entire $100,000 prize. The contestant, who was playing against actress Rosie Perez, managed to correctly guess the final answer in the “Winner’s Circle” round, which is notoriously difficult and saw her win the entire jackpot, which is super rare and hard to do.

2. K for Kardashian

“Family Feud” is a long-running game show that pits two families against each other in a battle of wits. In 2014, one family was asked the question “Name a part of the body that starts with the letter ‘K’.” The family’s answer? “Kardashian.” Now we aren’t medical professionals or anything but we don’t remember being taught about the Kardashians in biology class. Do you?

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3. Be so good that they ban it

In 2015, the game show “Jeopardy!” saw one of its contestants, Arthur Chu, make some controversial moves that left many viewers shocked. Chu adopted a “J-Board” strategy, which involved picking the questions with the highest dollar value first, regardless of difficulty. This strategy was later banned by the show in case it caught on and resulted in more and more contestants giving this crazy strategy a try when they tackled the game.

4. A real blonde moment

The game show “Wheel of Fortune” is known for its contestants sometimes making huge mistakes when guessing letters in the puzzle. In 2008, one contestant made a doozy of a mistake when she guessed the letter “R” instead of “T” in a puzzle that was almost solved. She ended up losing the game because of it. If there’s a moment you don’t want to get your letters mixed up and end up saying the wrong thing it’s when you’re on a TV game show in front of a live studio audience.

5. The price is right but the guess was wrong

“The Price is Right” is a classic game show where contestants compete to win prizes by guessing the correct price of various items. In 2008, one contestant made a very costly mistake when she incorrectly guessed the price of a car, resulting in her losing the game and going home empty-handed. It wasn’t just the wrong guess that was most shocking though with the manner of it also being a key factor. Everybody involved wanted her to do well, but it wasn’t meant to be.


6. So close yet so far

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” is a game show where contestants can win up to $1 million by answering 15 multiple-choice questions correctly. In 2001, one contestant made it all the way to the final question but then froze under the pressure, resulting in her leaving with only $500,000. Can you imagine anything being worse than getting so close to the million dollars only to fall at the final hurdle? Brutal.

7. Go big or go home

In 2014, the game show “The Chase” saw one of its contestants, Jenny Ryan, make a very bold move. Ryan, who is known as “The Vixen,” took a chance and went for the high-value question in the final round, even though she didn’t know the answer. She ended up getting the question wrong, but her bold move impressed the audience. We have a lot of time for people who give it a real Hail Mary even if they know they probably are not going to be able to pull it off. Kudos.

8. Rich through luck

“Deal or No Deal” is a game show where contestants can win up to $1 million by correctly guessing which of 26 briefcases contains the highest amount of money. In 2008, one contestant, Chandra Wilson, made a shocking move when she eliminated all but two of the briefcases, even though she had no idea what was in them. She ended up winning $261,000. The premise is simple but it’s rare to see somebody come away with a cash prize. Maybe not a shocker but definitely a surprise.

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9. Half a million dollars? Pass

“Hollywood Game Night” is a game show where two teams of celebrities compete to win money for charity. In 2013, one team made a shocking move when they decided to pass on a question worth $500,000. The question was later revealed to be an easy one, and the team’s decision cost them the game. If there’s one question you don’t want to pass on when you are so close to such a massive prize it’s a super easy one that you 100% would have got right.

10. Ken Jennings doesn’t know it all

“Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?” is a game show where adult contestants compete to answer questions from a 5th-grade curriculum. In 2007, one contestant, Ken Jennings, was asked a question about the Civil War and shocked everyone when he didn’t know the answer. He ended up losing the game. How do you think you would have done? Would you have been able to get a Civil war question right with no chance to study beforehand?

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