Game Shows Wiki
Jim Peck
Charlie O'Donnell
Chain Letters.png
Unsold Pilot: 1985
Barry & Enright Productions

Chain Letters was an unsold game show pilot where contestants competed in a word game for cash prizes.


Three contestants competed to win money by changing letters in words to make new words.

Main Game[]

Host Jim read cryptic crossword-type clues to which the answer was a new word, with only one letter difference from the previous answer. All questions were toss-ups. The first player to buzz-in with the correct change and word won money for that word. If the answer was incorrect, the question was then offered to the opposing contestants. While Jim was reading a clue, a randomizer was activated. It shuffled money amounts plus the word "tie-the-leader". The randomizer stopped when a player buzzed in. Whatever amount was landed on, that's how much the word was worth. If the "tie-the-leader" was hit and if s/he was trailing at that time, the buzz-in player would have a chance to do just that and match the leading player's score, simply by giving the correct word; a correct answer from the leading player only prevented a tie. Each round was played to time.

Round 1[]

The first round was played with 3-letter words and each correct answer was worth anywhere from $10-$100.

Booby Trap[]

Whoever was ahead at the end of the first round got control of the bonus round called "Booby Trap." The player in control faced a word. The opposing contestants would then write in secret on their videowriters what word that they think the contestant is going to change to. They are allowed to write down the same word. That makes it a/them booby trap(s). When changing a letter, if the controlling contestant makes a word that was safe, s/he won $10. The contestant then did this up to two more times with each subsequent successful change increasing the potential payoff. If at anytime, the controlling player fell into the trap by changing into a word written by either/both of the two opponents or changed into an illegal word, then he/she/they get the money. That's why to prevent this from happening, the controlling player can choose to stop and keep whatever s/he had won. Successful subsequent changes doubled the money for a total of $40.

Round 2[]

The second round was played with 4-letter words and each correct answer was worth anywhere from $20-$200.

Round 3[]

The final round was played with 5-letter words and each correct answer was worth anywhere from $30-$300. If this round ended in a tie, one last question was played and the first player to buzz-in with the correct answer won the game.

The player with the most money when time was up, wins the game and went on to play the $10,000 bonus round. All contestants get to keep the cash.

Bonus Round[]

In the bonus round, the winning player was shown one last four-letter base word. One of the letters within the word would be highlighted; that's the letter the contestant must change and make a new word. If s/he could not change the letter, s/he can say “pass” and a different letter would be highlighted. Each acceptable change was worth $100. If the winning player can make ten changes in 60 seconds or less, s/he won the $10,000.


Mark Maxwell-Smith

Chain Letters 1985 Pilot.jpg


Even though this didn't sell in the United States, it was later sold and became a hit in the UK.