Game Shows Wiki
Bil Dwyer
Cheaters Pilot.png
NBC Pilot (Cheaters): 2002
Dirty Rotten Cheater.png
PAX (Weekly): 1/6/2003 – 4/14/2003
Jonathan Goodson Productions

Opening Spiel (PILOT): ANNOUNCER: "Tonight, one of these players will be cheating. The Cheater, will be given all the answers to all the questions. Watch carefully, as each player looks in their monitor and discovers for the very first time whether they will be tonight's cheater. Alysha Coleman, singer. Are you the Cheater?" COLEMAN: "No, I'm not the Cheater!" ANNOUNCER: "Kevin Pindergas, teacher." PINDERGAS: "I'm not the Cheater!" ANNOUNCER: "Dennis Govens, river rafting guide." GOVENS: "I'm not the Cheater!" ANNOUNCER: "Tricia Leman, law student." LEMAN: "I am not the Cheater!" ANNOUNCER: "Matt George, magazine editor." GEORGE: "I am not the Cheater!" ANNOUNCER: "Mann Alfonso, child care worker." ALFONSO: "I am not the Cheater!" ANNOUNCER: "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Cheaters."

Opening Spiel (SERIES): ANNOUUNCER: "One of these honest players is about to be turned into a Dirty Rotten Cheater. The Cheater will secretly see all the answers to all the questions. Watch carefully, as each person discovers for the very first time if he or she will be tonight's Cheater." (intro of each player, who denies being the Cheater) DWYER: "Players, one of you is lying. One of you is the Dirty Rotten Cheater."

Dirty Rotten Cheater (originally called Cheaters in the 2002 pilot) was a game show similar to The Weakest Link mixed with Family Feud, but with a twist. In each round, one person would get to see all the answers to the question in the round and then everyone had to vote out who was the Cheater. (Keep in mind that the 2002 pilot should not be confused with the long-running 2000 syndicated reality series of the same name.)


At the start of each show, the six contestants would walk up to their podiums, open their monitor doors, and find out if they were the "Dirty Rotten Cheater". After each contestant's name was read, he/she would face the camera and other contestants and claim to not be the Cheater; hence, the sole Cheater was lying.

The game was played in five rounds. Each round began with a survey question, similar to those on Family Feud. There was only one question in the first round, two questions in each of the next two rounds, three in the fourth round, and two in the last round. In the first four rounds, each contestant would give one answer; if the answer was on a list of the top ten responses given, the contestant received an amount of cash equal to the value of its position on the list. If the answer was not on the list, no money was given. The Cheater could see the top ten list of answers, and could choose to either give a high-dollar answer to build their own total, or a lesser answer in hopes of throwing off suspicion.

Unlike Family Feud, lower ranked answers were worth more money instead of higher ranked answers; the value of each answer was as follows:

Position Value
10th ranked answer $2,500
9th ranked answer $2,250
8th ranked answer $2,000
7th ranked answer $1,750
6th ranked answer $1,500
5th ranked answer $1,250
4th ranked answer $1,000
3rd ranked answer $750
2nd ranked answer $500
1st ranked answer $250

The First Three Rounds[]

At the end of each of these rounds, bonuses were awarded to the contestants who scored the most money in that round alone. The 1st Place bonus was $10,000, 2nd Place was $7,500, and 3rd Place was $5,000. If there was a tie, the appropriate bonuses were combined and split between the tying players (i.e., if two contestants tied for 1st Place, each would receive $8,750).

The contestants were then given an opportunity to accuse one another of being the Cheater. After a few contestants had opined, they all secretly voted for who they thought was the Cheater, using cards with the players' names on them, and the players would reveal their votes from camera left to camera right.

The first contestant to receive three votes for that round was eliminated and lost all of the money in his/her bank. That contestant was then asked whether or not he/she was the Cheater.

Depending on the outcome of the vote and the eliminated contestant's revelation, one of three possible scenarios would occur:

  1. If the eliminated contestant was the Cheater, he/she was eliminated from the game with no further participation, the remaining contestants would keep all the money in their banks, and one of the remaining players was designated as the new Cheater in the same manner as at the beginning of the show.
  2. If the eliminated contestant was not the Cheater, the remaining contestants would lose half of the money in their banks and the eliminated contestant was later given a chance to win money in the final round. The Cheater in that round would remain Cheater in subsequent rounds until being eliminated and/or revealed.
  3. If no contestant received three votes, all of the contestants would lose half their bank and the Cheater had to decide which honest player to eliminate. Each player would reach into their podium, where a button was hidden; this was done to conceal the identity of the Cheater, who had the only working button. One by one, the Cheater was asked if he/she desired to eliminate one of the other players. Once the Cheater decided to push the button, a red light at center stage was lit and the contestant who was called on was eliminated, but was later given a chance to win money in the final round.

Round 4[]

At the end of this round, after the three remaining contestants had a chance to accuse the other players, the studio audience would vote for who they thought was the Cheater. If a contestant received at least 50% of the audience vote, he or she was eliminated, and, as before, had to honestly reveal if he or she was the Cheater. If none of the contestants received 50% of the vote, the Cheater again decided who would be eliminated. Either way, there was no reduction in score for eliminating an honest player, unlike the first three rounds.

Final Round[]

In this round, for each question, the two remaining contestants alternated turns, giving three answers each. After both questions were asked, the remaining two contestants each had fifteen seconds to plead their cases to the studio audience as to why they were not the Cheater. All honest players that were eliminated during the show were brought back out to hear the pleas, and both the contestants and the audience would vote on who they thought was the Cheater.

While the vote was tabulated, two vaults were brought on stage. The vaults, each of which had a trap door inside, were then filled with cash corresponding to the total value in each contestant's bank. The Cheater's identity was then revealed, and any of the honest players who correctly identified him/her won $500.

After the Cheater was identified, he/she was given the command "Cheater, go for the money" by Dwyer and would reach into his/her vault. If the audience correctly identified the Cheater, the money would fall through the trap door and the honest player won the money in his/her bank. If the audience instead voted for the honest player, the trap door would not open and the Cheater kept his/her bank while the honest player won nothing.

Pilot Rules[]

The pilot, called Cheaters (which was pitched to NBC and taped on the set of The Weakest Link from the George Gray era) had different rules than in the series. The most obvious was that, because it was for a broadcast network, the stakes were higher:

Position Value
10th ranked answer $25,000
9th ranked answer $20,000
8th ranked answer $15,000
7th ranked answer $7,000
6th ranked answer $6,000
5th ranked answer $5,000
4th ranked answer $4,000
3rd ranked answer $3,000
2nd ranked answer $2,000
1st ranked answer $1,000

Set Pics[]


CBS Television City

International Versions[]

The following are a list of countries that have aired their versions of Dirty Rotten Cheater:

  • France
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Poland
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • Vietnam


The UK's version has several notable differences from the US version and several other formats, the most notable being that the show has only five contestants, and never awards bonus money.

A running gag on the Polish version consists of the host telling a joke related to the first question of each round.[1]



Official Website (via Internet Archive)
Rules for Dirty Rotten Cheater @ (via Internet Archive)
Jay's Dirty Rotten Cheater Page

YouTube Videos[]

Cheaters (Dirty Rotten Cheaters Pilot)--Live from The Weakest Link set!
Series Finale (April 14, 2003)
A full episode of the British version
A full episode of the Polish version