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Richard Quest (season 1)
Dan Harris (season 2)
500 Questions alt.jpg
500 Questions.jpg
ABC Primetime: 5/20/2015 - 6/1/2016
United Artists Media Group (Season 1)
MGM Television (Season 2)
Warner Horizon Television

Quest: "You are about to witness television history. The smartest people in the country are about to play the toughest game ever devised. No saves, no helps, no multiple choice(s). Our geniuses are ready. The pressure is on. It's day (insert number). Will anybody be able to answer 500 Questions?"

Harris: "Tonight, the smartest people in the country are about to play the toughest game ever devised. No saves, no helps, no multiple choice(s). Our geniuses are ready. The pressure is on. It's day (insert number). Will anybody be able to answer 500 Questions?"

"Three wrongs and you are GONE!" - Richard Quest

Don't get three wrongs in a row! - Richard Quest

500 Questions was a short-lived ABC primetime quiz show that will test the smarts and the nerve of its contestants.


Contestants who compete on this show are all certified geniuses. Each game is played two contestants at a time. One, designated the "champion", will answer the questions while the other, the "challenger", watches and waits to take over.

The champion faces ten categories with five questions each. S/he picks a category and then Richard will either ask a standard question or reveal one of three "special" question types. Once the question is asked, the champion has a limited amount of time (10 seconds on standard questions) to answer the question. The champion can answer as many times as s/he wish within the given time. As soon as the champion gives the correct answer, the clock stops. Should the champion's first answer to the question be the correct answer, s/he banks the value of the question. If the champion couldn't come up with the correct answer in time, s/he receives a "wrong" (represented by a red "X" on the scoreboard). The champion must be very careful not to miss three times in a row or s/he is eliminated from the game and the challenger takes over. If the champion can survive all 50 questions without getting three wrong answers in a row, s/he stays in the game, keeps the banked cash, and the challenger is eliminated.

NOTE: After two "wrongs", the challenger picks the next category. However, if the champion can answer correctly with one or two "wrongs" on the board, s/he is cleared and gets out of danger.

Money Values[]

Each standard question is worth $1,000 should the champion's first response be the correct answer. The 25th question in each group of 50 is a "Milestone" question worth an additional $5,000 should the champion's first answer be correct. Also, if the champion's first response is right, s/he gets to keep that money, regardless if they clear the group of 50 questions.

Special Questions[]

  • Battle: The "Battle" question (valued at $1,000) is where both contestants take turns answering the same question which will have multiple answers (always an even number). Prior to the question being revealed, the champion will choose to either lead (answer first) or follow (force the challenger to answer first). Each player has five seconds to give a correct response and only their first response can be accepted. They keep going back and forth until a contract is completed, or one of the players gives no response or an incorrect response. If the challenger wins the Battle, the champion gets a "wrong". If the champion wins, s/he (gets out of danger and) wins (another) $1,000. If the contract is completed, no "wrongs" are taken away or given, and no money is awarded.
  • Top Ten Challenge: A statistical question with answers that ranked the top ten is asked. The object of the player is to give any five correct answers in 15 seconds or less. Prior to revealing the question, the champion is given the option to play it themselves or pass it to the challenger. If the champion fails or the challenger completes the question, it counts as a "wrong" for the champion. If the champion succeeds or the challenger fails, it adds $1,000 to the champion's bank and clears any "wrongs" they have. (NOTE: Unlike standard questions, the correct answers don't have to be the first five given to earn the money or "wrong". This also applies to the $5,000 bonus for the champion should this be a "Milestone" question.)
  • Triple Threat: (not to be confused with the short-lived, 80s and 90s game show of the same name) A question with three correct answers is asked. The champion must get all three in the usual ten seconds in order to add $3,000 to the bank. (NOTE: Unlike standard questions, the correct answers don't have to be the first three given to earn the money. This also applies to the $5,000 bonus should this be a "Milestone" question.)

Second Season Changes[]

  • There are now three questions in each category instead of five; meaning that there are now 30 questions in all in each game. In addition, "Random" is no longer a category.
  • All questions are now worth $1,000 no matter how many answers it takes.
  • The time for normal questions is reduced to five seconds.
  • Only the "Battle" questions are brought back as all the other special questions were dismissed (i.e. "Triple Threat" and "Top Ten Challenge"). Every pack of 30 questions contains 6 Battle questions, and contestants are always allowed to ask Harris how many Battle questions remain on the board.
  • Each time the defender completes a round, s/he plays a "Lightning Round", wherein s/he answers as many questions as possible in two minutes to bring him/herself closer to the goal of 500 questions. Each answered question adds to the defender's total question count. The "three wrong in a row and you're out" rule is still in play; however, incorrect answers do not wipe out any main game "wrongs" while Lightning Round "wrongs" do not carry over to the main game. Each correct answer is still worth $1,000 but in keepable cash added to the already banked money. Due to this, the 25th question milestone was eliminated.

International Versions[]

Countries that have previous aired their versions of 500 Questions includes:

A German version under the name 500 - Die Quiz-Arena (500 - The Quiz Arena) hosted by Gunther Jauch (of the German version's Who Wants to be a Millionaire? fame) aired on RTL Television from 2016 until 2017.

A Hungarian version called 500 - Az Orszag Geniusza (500 - Genius of the Country) hosted by Egon Ronai airs on ATV since 2019.

A United Kingdom version also called 500 Questions hosted by Giles Coren (the husband of Victoria Coren Mitchell hostess of the game show Only Connect) aired on ITV which both started and ended in 2016 after four episodes. In addition, the format somewhat differs from the original U.S. version where instead of contestants trying to answer "500 Questions", there are "500 Questions" on their board as 50 of them are used per episode. Each correct answer adds 500 pounds to the bank. If a contestants gets three questions wrong in a row, then their opponent takes over the game and the bank. However, if a contestant makes it to question 50, then they win the money in the bank (up to 25,000 pounds) which resets each episode and may return in the next episode.


  • Later in 2015, the series was renewed for a second season.[1]
  • Former Jeopardy! Champions Pam Mueller, Ken Jennings, and Colby Burnett appeared as contestants.
  • Brandon Saunders, the runner-up of The Million Second Quiz, also appeared as a contestant.
  • For the first episode of Season 1, the show's logo appeared in commercial breaks but never during the opening credits of the show. The second show in history that also did that was the short-lived, live variety show on NBC called Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (based on the British variety show called Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway).
  • While Season 1 was billed as a "seven-night event", repeats aired on Saturday and Sunday night.
  • Promos for the 2015 version of Celebrity Family Feud (Harvey) started to appear during the show's premiere on the same network.
  • Host Richard Quest later appeared as a contestant on The CNN Quiz Show: The Seventies Edition in the same year.
  • Out of 500 questions, 371 were asked during the course of Season 1; for Season 2, 421 questions were asked.
  • Guy Jordan was the biggest winner of the run, answering 241 questions and amassing $169,000.
  • In season 1, seven episodes were produced while in season 2, only five episodes were produced.


Mark Burnett & Mike Darnell



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