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Hosts
Edd "Kookie" Byrnes (Pilot, 1974)
Chuck Woolery (Daytime, 1975–1981)
Pat Sajak (Daytime, 1981–1989; Nighttime, 1983–Present, Celebrity, 2021-Present)
Rolf Benirschke (Daytime, 1989)
Bob Goen (Daytime, 1989–1991)
Alex Trebek (4/1/1997; also subbed for Woolery)
Vanna White (December 2019–January 2020, sub)
Hostesses
Susan Stafford (1974–1982; Sub: 6/16–20/1986, Daytime)
Vanna White (1982–Present, Celebrity, 2021-Present)
Summer Robin Bartholomew (Sub: 9/1977, 5/1979, 1982)
Arte Johnson (1977, Sub)
Cynthia Washington (6/1979, Sub)
Vicki McCarty-Iovine (1982, Sub)
Tricia Gist (1/1991, Nighttime Sub)
Lesly Sajak (4/1/1997, Sub)
Katie Cantrell (3/24/2011, Sub)
Mickey Mouse (12/10–12/20/2019, Sub)
Minnie Mouse (12/9–12/19/2019, Sub)
Maggie Sajak (1/6–1/10/2020, Sub)
Announcers
Charlie O'Donnell (1974–1980, 1985 {Sub}, 1988–2010)
Jack Clark (1980–1988)
M.G. Kelly (1988–1989)
Don Pardo (New York Shows, 1988)
Johnny Gilbert (Sub: 1988, 1995, 4/1/1997)
Various Announcers, such as Johnny Gilbert, Rich Fields, Joe Cipriano, John Cramer, and Lora Cain (2010–2011)
Jim Thornton (2011–Present, Celebrity: 2021–Present)
Broadcast
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NBC Pilots: 8/28/1974
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NBC Daytime: 1/6/1975 – 6/30/1989
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Syndication (Daily): 9/19/1983 – present
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CBS Daytime: 7/17/1989 – 1/11/1991
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NBC Daytime: 1/14/1991 – 8/30/1991 (reruns aired until 9/20/1991)
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ABC Primetime: 1/7/2021 - present
Packagers
Merv Griffin Productions/Enterprises (1974–1994)Columbia TriStar Television/Sony Pictures Television (Studios) (1994-present)
Distributors
King World (1983–2007)
CBS Television Distribution/CBS Media Ventures (2007-present)

Wheel of Fortune is the long-running daytime network and syndicated game show in which three contestants (sometimes six) spin a giant wheel and solve Hangman-type word puzzles to win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes (formerly, just prizes). Currently, in syndication, the show is commonly known as "America's Game". Keep in mind that this is completely unrelated to the original short-lived 1952-53 CBS game show of the same name. Also of note, is that it is a slight retool of where it originally began as a pilot named Shopper's Bazaar.

Gameplay[]

In each round, a puzzle is revealed followed by a category to that puzzle. The player in control spins a large 24-space wheel which is fully calibrated with dollar amounts and penalty spaces (Bankrupt and Lose a Turn). When the wheel lands on a dollar amount, he/she then calls a letter. If the letter is in the puzzle, he/she earns the amount times the number of appearances of that letter and continues his/her turn. Along the way he/she can buy a vowel that costs $250 ($200, later $100 on Bob Goen's version) each no matter how many there are or if it appears in the puzzle or not. If at any point the contestant in control picks a letter that is not in the puzzle, picks a letter that is already called, picks a vowel without buying it buying a vowel not in the puzzle buying a vowel already in the puzzle doesn't call a letter within 5 seconds, solves the puzzle incorrectly or if he/she hits Lose a Turn, that player loses his/her turn and control goes over the next player in line; if the player hits "Bankrupt", the player in control loses all his/her money and his/her turn and gives up prizes (if any were earned). Previously in the first round, there was only one Bankrupt, and a second one in each subsequent round. Since Season 27, there has always been at least two Bankrupts throughout the entire game. The first player to solve the puzzle wins the round and keeps all the money earned in that round with a minimum guarantee on each version.

NOTE: Starting in season 37 onward, whenever a letter is called, a graphic of it appears in the lower right corner of the screen and afterward it appears in the puzzle or if not in the puzzle, it gets crossed out. This was to make it able to be viewed in environments where noise or other factors would prevent hearing letters called like in bars or exercise gyms.

Seasons Single Player Team
1~13 $200 $400
14~22 $500 $1,000
23~current $1,000 $2,000

Celebrity Shows[]

Most celebrity episodes pair a celebrity with a contestant. The contestants play for themselves and keep whatever cash and prizes they earn, while the celebrities play for charity (as they already make money as is) where each team's winnings are matched and donated in cash to a charity or charities of the celebrities' choices, with a minimum guarantee of $10,000. In the early days of celebrity appearances on the show, the celebrities played by themselves. This is also the case with ABC's Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, as the stars play by themselves for charity, with a minimum guarantee of $30,000.

Special Wheel Spaces[]

In addition to the monetary amounts and penalty spots, the wheel also consists of special spaces. Some of them last for just one round.

  • Buy A Vowel – In the pilot and early days of the series, one of the spaces, marked "Buy A Vowel", gave the contestant who landed on it a chance to buy a vowel at its usual price of $250 provided he/she had enough money, but if it was landed on with a total less than $250 or if there were no more vowels in the puzzle, it acted as a Lose A Turn space. It was not a successful space, and so it was shelved quickly.
  • Free Spin – When a player landed on this space he/she received a Free Spin token, which could be used whenever a player was in a position to lose his/her turn. In 1989, the space was replaced by a single Free Spin covering the first number of one of the money amounts; when claimed he/she could call a letter for the amount under the Free Spin. Later he/she had to call a correct letter to claim the Free Spin and since the 25th season also received $300 a letter, as the token was covering a $300 space with the "3" revealed rather than concealed (similar to the old rule). The Free Spin token was originally tan with "FREE SPIN" written horizontally across, but by 1989, it would change to green with SPIN in the center and "Free" on the top and bottom in yellow script. The Free Spin was finally retired after Season 26 and was replaced by the Free Play the following season.

In 2017, the Free Spin token returned in an episode titled "B as in Best Friends" for the hit ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat where both Honey and Jessica (played by Chelsey Crisp and Constance Wu respectively) appeared in a "Best Friends" week episode of Wheel from 1997.

  • Free Play – This was the replacement for the Free Spin starting in Season 27. When landing on this wedge, the controlling player could call any letter he/she wished or try to solve the puzzle. If the letter called was incorrect or had already been called, there was no penalty for that player; his/her turn simply continued. When calling a vowel, the controlling player didn't have to pay anything for it. If the player solved incorrectly, he/she again remained in control and could try to solve the puzzle again if he/she likes. Like the Speed-Up Round, vowels were worth nothing, while the consonants were always worth $500. This was the only special space to last throughout the entire game, and was finally retired after Season 38.
  • Double Play – This was a special token in which the contestant could turn it in before a spin and double the value on that next spin. It also worked on the $10,000 wedge, making it worth $20,000. If the player landed on a prize (including the Surprise) after turning in the Double Play token, the Double Play token was returned to that player. It was only used for Season 13.
  • Prize Wedges and Gift Tags – Introduced on the nighttime premiere, when landed on, the player must call a correct letter to pick up the wedge or tag and place it on his/her triangle under his/her bank. Until sometime early in Season 8, that player just picked up the wedge immediately and then called a letter for the value under the wedge. To keep the prize, that player must, of course, solve the puzzle without hitting Bankrupt. The gift tags (introduced in March 2000) are valued at $1,000 towards their sponsors. Starting in Season 30, if the contestant calls a correct consonant, he/she also earns $500 per appearance of each one (similar to the old rule).
  • Surprise – It worked the same as the normal prize wedges except the prize was not told until after the contestant solved the puzzle without hitting Bankrupt. It lasted from October 5, 1992 to the end of Season 15. During its last season, the wedge was redone for Happy Holidays Week to include a gift box. When claimed and won, the box was opened to reveal a card that read "I've won (name of a prize). Tell me about it, Charlie!" which then segued into the prize description.
  • Jackpot (1) – This was a very special space which only existed in the daytime show for two seasons. It worked like the prize wedges on the nighttime shows at the time, for when landed on, the contestant in control picked it up, placed it under his/her bank, then called a letter for the value underneath it. If the contestant could avoid Bankrupt at all times and solve the puzzle, he/she collected the Jackpot which started at $1,000 plus that much more for every day it was not won; the highest it got was $22,000. However, the Jackpot money could not be spent on vowels or shopping rounds. Thus, it was the only cash prize regularly offered during the NBC daytime run.
  • Jackpot (2) – Introduced on September 16, 1996, during Round 3 (Round 2 from Seasons 18 to 26, and Round 1 from Season 27 onward), one special wedge marked "Jackpot" was on the wheel. The jackpot started at $5,000 and grew by the amount landed on for each spin. Whenever the Jackpot wedge was landed on, the player in control could win the entire jackpot by calling a correct letter and solving the puzzle. Upon a Jackpot win, fireworks and sparkling stars came out from the tiny Jackpot graphic at the upper left part of the screen. From Season 24 onward, the Jackpot wedge was also worth $500 a letter regardless of the contestant wished to solve it or not, and $500 was added to the jackpot regardless of whether or not the letter called was in the puzzle. Calling a consonant or vowel on a Free Play also added $500 to the Jackpot. The Jackpot space was no more after Season 30.
  • Mystery Wedge – Introduced in Season 20, in Round 3 (Round 2 since October 17, 2011), two of the wedges are mystery wedges which are branded with question marks and a money amount. Behind one of them is a Bankrupt, and behind the other is $10,000 in cash. When a mystery wedge is landed on and if the contestant in control calls the right letter, he/she has a choice to make: either take the money for the correct letter or lift the wedge to see what's on the other side. When lifting the wedge, if the wedge has $10,000 behind it, it then acts as a normal prize wedge; if the other side shows a Bankrupt, you know what happens; either way, the other wedge becomes a normal cash wedge. When the Mystery Wedge first premiered, its value was $500, and the non-Bankrupt wedge had a car or another big prize. Starting in Season 22, the wedge's value increased to $1,000, and the $10,000 was often offered instead. Starting on October 3, 2005, in addition to the $10,000 being almost the only prize offered here, the home audience is shown on the other side of the wedge (from Season 31, this is only if the contestant chooses not to pick it up). Since Season 33, at the start of Round 2, the spiffy graphical word "Mystery" would appear for the home viewer on the contestant's podium.

For Season 35 in 2017, due to the retirement of "$5K Every Day", if the winning contestant gets the $10,000 prize after he/she manages to solve the puzzle correctly in the Mystery Round, then a lucky Wheel Watchers Club member would also win $10,000.

  • Wild Card – From October 23, 2006, a Wild Card was placed on the wheel. This card can be redeemed for an additional consonant without spinning the wheel for the last amount landed on after calling the right letter. Sajak usually suggests the contestant to use his/her Wild Card to just call another consonant for the last amount landed on if the amount was big, as high as $5,000 for each duplicate consonant in the puzzle. If the contestant can win the game without using or losing the Wild Card, the Wild Card can then be used in the bonus round where the contestant can call a bonus consonant. Like the Free Spin token, if won and placed in the player's possession, the Wild Card carries over into the next rounds, but if a Bankrupt is hit, the card is lost. Starting in Season 30, if the contestant calls a correct consonant, he/she also earns $500 per appearance of the said consonant.
  • The "25" Wedge – During Season 25, in Round 2 (along with the Jackpot wedge), the wheel also had a special "25" wedge. This was a special prize that, when removed from the wheel, revealed it (which had to be flipped over like the Mystery Wedge) to be 25 of a certain item (i.e. 25 $100 bills or 25 gift cards).
  • The Double-Width $2500 Wedge – During the weeks of October 5 and October 22 plus November 5 and November 12, 2007, the $2,500 space was double-sized, extending counterclockwise over the purple $600 wedge. Originally, it had a Sony card logo on it for the first week of its debut. Then Dawn dishwashing liquid for the second and Maxwell House coffee for the fourth and final week (which for example, you can see on the bottom here of the description). This was likely in honor of the show's silver anniversary at the time.
  • Big Money Round – During Season 25, in Round 3 (along with the Mystery Wedges), the wheel also had a special Big Money Wedge. It had a TV screen with rotating dollar amounts on it including Bankrupt and Lose a Turn. The amounts were $5,000, $7,500 and $25,000. While Bankrupt and Lose a Turn worked the same way as always, if the contestant landed the Big Money wedge and there was a cash amount on it, the contestant could call a letter for its face value (he/she couldn't receive the amount landed on multiplied by the number of times the right letter appeared). After that, the wedge became a regular $1,000 space. Unlike the $10,000 wedge (see below), the money could be spent on vowels. When the season started, the amount from the big money wedge became a prize which could only be claimed if the contestant could solve the puzzle.
  • The $10,000 Wedge – Introduced on November 28, 1994 and lasting until the end of Season 25, this was a very special wedge in which $10,000 was in between two tiny Bankrupt spaces. While the rule for hitting a Bankrupt remained the same, if the contestant in control landed on the $10,000 space and guessed the right letter, he/she picked it up and flipped it over to show a large $10,000 wedge. This wedge acted as a prize wedge and the money couldn't be spent on vowels, so the $10,000 could only be won if he/she solved the puzzle without hitting a Bankrupt.
  • The Million-Dollar Wedge – This looks the same as the $10,000 wedge; in fact, it was the show's replacement for that wedge from Season 26 onward.[1]. It is available for the first three rounds. While the rule for hitting a Bankrupt remains the same, if the contestant in control lands on the Million Dollar space and guesses the right letter, he/she picks it up and flips it over to show a large Million Dollar wedge. If he/she solves the puzzle and wins the game without hitting a Bankrupt at any time, that player has a chance to win $1,000,000 by solving the bonus puzzle. The $100,000 envelope is thus replaced with the $1,000,000 envelope. This format was originally used on the short-lived Australian version entitled Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune before being incorporated into this version. So far, there have been three victories with the million, and five losses with it.
  • ½ Car Wedge – A special wedge initially used only for the week of April 11, 2011, offering a chance at winning a car. Similar to the $10,000 and Million-Dollar Wedges, it had a one-third-sized "Car" space surrounded by one-third-sized $500 wedges and a license plate-shaped "car" tag on top. Hitting the "car" space in the middle awarded the tag plus $500 per consonant, and two had to be claimed to win the car (obviously, the contestant also had to solve that round's puzzle and avoid hitting a Bankrupt at any time); however, the game didn't have to be won to win the car. In Season 29, the ½ Car pieces were changed to license plate-shaped tags featuring the logo of the featured car's manufacturer called ½ Kia, debuting in the second week of the season and lasting until the end of it; they were for a Kia Soul. The contestant no longer had to land in the middle of the wedge to have a chance to collect the tag. When either tag was landed on, as was either wedge in Season 28, a car horn sounded. A tag was now vulnerable to Bankrupts in all rounds and the contestant had to solve the puzzle after picking one (or two) up to keep them in subsequent rounds. When a tag was picked up, a large graphic of a generic ½ Car tag would appear on the contestant's scoreboard before shrinking to fit under their score. Also, starting on their third regular appearance, because the tags were on two of the Wheel's $500 spaces, $500 per consonant was added to the player's total as before. During Season 29, three contestants won cars after landing on both of these wedges. Since Season 30, the show still used the new rules, but now offered different cars every week. One week had a borderline on the tags with the manufacturer named Mazda, played for a Mazda 2. The ½ Car wedge was retired in Season 37 and was replaced by Triple Toss-Up rounds.
  • Express Wedge – In Round 3, the wheel has the newest wedge of the show called the Express Wedge which was introduced in Season 31, and since Season 32, background music plays when the contestant decides to hop aboard the Express. What happens here is that when a contestant lands on it and calls a correct letter, he/she not only gets $1,000 per letter but can decide to either spin the wheel again as usual or hop aboard the Express by continuing to play for $1,000/consonant and not spin the wheel. He/She can still buy a vowel along the way. The player controlling the Express Wedge keeps on calling letters at $1,000 per appearance until he/she either solves the puzzle, picks a wrong letter, makes an incorrect solve or runs out of time, in which case he/she loses all his/her money.

Special Rounds[]

Throughout its history, Wheel of Fortune has had several special rounds.

  • Preview Puzzles – During Season 17, each show opened with a Preview Puzzle, a partially-filled puzzle just for home viewers. After Pat and Vanna were introduced, the solution was revealed. The puzzles had little to no effect on the game and were replaced by Toss-Up Puzzles starting in Season 18.
  • Toss-Up Puzzles – Since Season 18, the game has instituted Toss-Up Puzzles. In the Toss-Up rounds, letters in the puzzle are revealed one at a time. The first player to buzz-in and solve the puzzle wins money for that puzzle. When they first premiered, all Toss-Ups were worth $1,000 and two were played every day; the first also gave that player the honor of starting the first round and the second also gave that player the honor of starting the fourth round. Since Season 19, three Toss-Up Puzzles are played each show with the first one worth $1,000 and the honor of who Pat interviews first, the second is worth $2,000 and the honor of starting the first round, and up until the end of Season 36, the third was worth $3,000 plus the honor of starting the fourth round. Starting in Season 37, the third Toss-Up is a Triple Toss-Up Round: there are three Toss-Up puzzles back-to-back, each worth $2,000 and in the same category (for a maximum of $6,000 for a sweep), and the player who solves the third puzzle gets the honor of starting the fourth round. As of Season 39, any player who solves all three toss-up puzzles wins a $4,000 bonus in addition to the $6,000 for a sweep, for a total of $10,000.
  • Bonus Questions – The contestant who solved the main puzzle recieved a chance to answer the question for bonus cash. When they were first introduced in October 1990 the bonus was $500. It was later raised to $1,000 on November 22, 1995, $2,000 at the beginning of Season 14, and $3,000 on October 4, 1999. During the $500 era, if the player who solved the puzzle couldn't come up with the right answer, the other two players one at a time had a chance to answer (except for Megaword, Slogan and trivia questions, which were exclusively for the one who solved it). During the Goen era, it was $250. They were phased out completely by December 2008. There were several variations:
    • Clue – The first "bonus" category, this puzzle described a specific object (similar to Jeopardy!), and the player who solved the puzzle had to guess what it was.
    • Fill in the Blank (1) – The solution was a phrase with at least one word missing in the middle or end (indicated by a question mark), and the contestant had to guess the exact missing word(s).
    • Fill in the Blank (2) – Similar to a Tribond puzzle, the soloution was three or four phrases with a missing common word (almost always at the beginning), and again the contestant had to guess the missing word.
    • Fill in the Number – Pound signs were shown to indicate a number (which appeared as a numeral) in the puzzle. The player's job after solving the puzzle was to guess the number.
    • Megaword – An obscure category in which the puzzle was an obscure word, and if the player who solved the puzzle could use it in a sentence, he/she won $500. This puzzle was only used in Season 12 for a total of 34 appearances.
    • Next Line Please – The puzzle was an incomplete phrase/quotation, and the contestant had to complete it to win the bonus.
    • Slogan – The puzzle was a slogan or a jingle to a popular product or place. If the contestant who solved the puzzle could come up with the right product, he/she won the bonus. This category debuted on October 6, 1995 as $1,000 Slogan (as it was the only $1,000 bonus category at first), and then renamed the following season when the bonus value increased.
    • What's That Song? – The puzzle was lyrics from the song. When the puzzle was solved, the player gets an extra $3,000 for telling the correct song using those lyrics. This was only used six times and was the only bonus puzzle introduced since Season 26.
    • Where are We? – Several clue words to a common or well-known place were presented in the form of a puzzle. All the contestant who solved the puzzle had to do was to guess what place those things have in common.
    • Who Is It? – This puzzle gave a clue to at a specific name, and the contestant had to guess who it was. Also called Who Are They? on rare occasions.
    • On various occasions from Season 10 until the tail-end of Season 22, after the player had solved a "regular" puzzle, a signal went off to indicate a trivia question accompanying it. In this case, it was asked by the announcer (although the host took this over in Season 13), and a correct answer won the bonus (intially $1,000 before being increased in Season 14).
  • Puzzler – This was used during Seasons 16 and 17. It was introduced on the Season 15 finale, and only temporarily used for one week before becoming permanent on September 21, continuing until the end of Season 17. The player who solved the main puzzle had a chance to solve another puzzle related to the one just solved. The Puzzler had a few letters revealed, then the contestant had five seconds to solve the puzzle for $3,000.
  • Prize Puzzles – The player who solves the puzzle not only keeps his/her money, but also wins a prize (these days a trip) associated with the puzzle. The house-minimum rule doesn't apply for this round, which has had two formats:
    • Format #1 – The puzzle's solution was the prize itself. This format was only used for eight Friday episodes in Season 15 (September 19 to November 28), and exclusively for Round 1.
    • Format #2 – To signal this puzzle, when it's revealed without its letters, the sound effect plays twice: once originally, then again in a higher pitch. Also, the puzzle now simply relates to the prize rather than naming it. When this format debuted in Season 21, it still occurred once per week (not necessarily Friday), before becoming a daily feature in Season 23. Originally, it could be played in any round, but it was dropped from Round 1 in Season 28, and Round 2 on October 17, 2011 (except for two pre taped weeks). As a result, the Mystery Round has been moved to Round 2 since the latter date.
  • Red Letter Puzzles – On occasion from early in Season 11, and lasting until February 8, 1995, some of the letters in the puzzle were highlighted in red, forming a common word. The player's job after solving the puzzle was to guess the red letter word within five seconds, with a correct answer awarding $1,000. It first premiered as a home viewer contest in Season 10, where viewers could submit the word spelled out by the red letters for a chance at winning a prize; three similar contests over the following three seasons:
    • Season 11's contest was held in honor of that year's Academy Awards.
    • Season 12's contest was held in honor of Election Day.
    • Season 13's contest was held in honor of that year's Summer Olympics.

Shopping[]

From 1975 to 1989, contestants who solved the puzzle used their money to shop for prizes (including the expensive ones). They could buy as many prizes as they wanted, but if they were low on money, they could put the rest of the cash on a gift certificate or "On Account". Upon putting the money "On Account", it was taken out of their score and placed on a backdrop behind the player(s) with "On Account" above. This was taking a risk because if at any time the player hit Bankrupt not only the money from that round was gone, but the "On Account" money was gone too. The "On Account" money was also gone if the player failed to win the round. If the contestant could solve the puzzle, the "On Account" money was added to the player's round score and available for shopping.

When the show instituted the playing for all cash format in 1987, the shopping format was discontinued (though continued during the daytime version until 1989), and the game went faster. Plus, contestants were now tax-free, because, before the all-cash format was implemented, players had to pay outrageous taxes for the prizes they won after the show ended.

Final Spin/Speed-Up Round[]

When time is running short, a tugboat bell strikes twice and is repeated twice. Since Season 22, the Final Spin logo is revealed to the home audience. The host gives the wheel a final spin. (If the host lands on a prize, Bankrupt, Lose a Turn, etc., the host will spin again. These days, the home audience isn't shown any of these spins as the program is edited to fit the time slot.) Then the contestant in control is asked to give a letter. If the letter is a consonant and is in the puzzle he/she received the cash landed on (since October 4, 1999, $1,000 is added to the value landed on), but if the right letter is a vowel no money is earned (or lost). Pat reminds everyone at home and in the studio audience what the category is. Then, the in-studio audience is ordered to be quiet since they do not want to give the solution away and to give the players some concentration in this round until the puzzle is solved. Either way, the contestant has three seconds (five until April 13, 1998) to solve the puzzle, and can't guess another letter even if they've already guessed a correct letter and still can't solve. If the contestant doesn't solve the puzzle in time, a buzzer sounds and play passes on to the next contestant. During the Shopping era, if there wasn't enough time to shop for any more prizes, then the round would be played for a gift certificate (savings bond for teen contestants) unless of course, they had enough for the bigger prizes. Until Season 17, some games ended without a Speed-Up.

The Speed-Up Round depends on what round will start or what round is in progress.

Starting in Season 39, Sajak no longer does the Final Spin. Instead, the Final Spin is now done by the contestant in control at the time. Other than this, the rules remain intact.

All players get to keep whatever they won, but the player with the most money at the end of the show wins the game. Until the end of Season 19, if contestants finished with $0, they got parting gifts. Starting in Season 20, they get the house minimum amount (in weeks where there are three couples, double the house minimum amount), ensuring that their travel expenses are covered. Starting in 1981, the winning player went on to play the bonus round.

Ties and Tiebreakers[]

Initially in the daytime version, if the game ended in a tie, all three players returned the next day. After the bonus round was introduced, the tied players played another Speed-Up round (dubbed by Pat as a "Final" Final Spin) for the right to go to the bonus round. This occurred on the nighttime version only once on October 5, 1993.

Ever since the new puzzleboard was introduced in February 1997, the tied players play a (final) Toss-Up puzzle with no cash value in which the first player to solve it wins the game (although it was valued at $1,000 on the 2016 episode). So far, this has only happened three times (March 13, 2003; March 2, 2006; and May 25, 2016).

Bonus Round[]

Two bonus rounds have been used on the show.

Star Bonus (1978)[]

If a contestant landed on the Star Bonus space, he/she had a chance to play a special bonus round at the end of the game. If he/she was not in the lead, the bonus game would allow the contestant to overtake the leader at the end of the last round. The contestant was given a choice of four Star Bonus puzzles, ranging from easy to difficult. The more difficult the puzzle, the more the contestant could win. The game played similar to its successor bonus round, with the difference that the contestant had four consonants and one vowel to pick from (as opposed to five consonants and one vowel), and was not told the category until AFTER their letters were revealed (as opposed to telling them the category at the outset of the round). This bonus proved to be a problem, as it took up so much time and caused heavy editing including a cut back on promotional consideration plugs at the end of the show.

Current Bonus Round[]

In this more well-known bonus round, the contestant is shown a final puzzle that must be solved for a prize selected at the start.

Bonus Round Category Selection[]

Starting in the syndicated version's 35th season in 2017, the winning contestant, after the "Final Spin" (or Speed-Up), gets to choose from one of three categories for their bonus round puzzle before going into the final commercial break. For the viewers, when the contestant chooses his/her category, each one is shown on a category strip in blue or purple; the two categories that are not chosen by the contestant have their strips "slide" into the one that is chosen. This mirrors its short-lived, kid-friendly counterpart Wheel 2000 (a.k.a. Wheel of Fortune 2000) when a child contestant got to choose from one of three categories for the main round to start. It also mirrors the bonus round for Wheel’s short-lived 1980s copycat The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime.

In addition, this process was also used on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune where a celebrity contestant picks one of his or her three categories to be used in the bonus round except the category strips were in gold instead of blue and purple in the regular civilian version.

Prize Selections[]

Prize selections have been different throughout the run.

  • Normal Prize Choice – During the Shopping era, The winning contestant selected a prize branded with a gold star on it. When Shopping was removed, the contestant had a choice of five prizes, one of them being $25,000 in cash, which was mostly chosen every time. This mostly led to an augmentation in 1989. For two separate weeks in the nighttime version's sixth season, the show incorporated what was known as "Wipeout" week, where each of the five prizes could only be won once those weeks (the prizes that were won were indicated by the letters "WO" for wipeout; plus, there were returning champions for those weeks). The Bob Goen version also used this format, but instead of $25,000, 1/5 of the amount of $5,000 was the grand cash prize among one of the five choices; plus, just like the nighttime show at the time, this version always had returning champions.
The $25,000 sign seen in the 1995-96 opening.
WOF $25,000 Sign.png
  • Five Envelopes – Starting in Season 7 of the syndicated version, the five prizes (including the $25,000) were concealed inside five envelopes (one for each envelope) behind five letters in the word "WHEEL". The concealed prize was revealed after the bonus round was done, win or lose. Bonus prizes at that time could only be won once each week. From September 21, 1998, the $25,000 grand prize was always available, win or lose. For the first seven weeks of Season 19, the five envelopes concealed three cars and two $25,000 prizes. The cars were always available as well as the $25,000; therefore, the contestant always had a choice of five envelopes.
  • Bonus Wheel – On October 22, 2001, a new bonus wheel was added to the Wheel of Fortune family, replacing the five envelopes. The wheel has 24 sections with a prize envelope in each one. Originally, 11 of them had $25,000, 12 of them had new cars (distribution depended on whether there were two or three being offered), and only one had $100,000. For the week of February 18, 2002, extra cash amounts increased in $5,000 increments were added to the bonus wheel (from $30,000 to $50,000); this was made permanent from Season 20. Starting with Season 26, if the winning contestant has the Million Dollar Wedge, the $100,000 envelope is replaced with the $1,000,000 envelope (so far it has been won three times; the first time was by Michelle Lowenstein, then by Autumn Erhard, and more recently Sarah Manchester). Since Season 28, the minimum grand prize is $30,000 (the season number multiplied by $1,000 from in Season 32). Also, in Seasons 28-32, if the winning contestant won a car, he/she also received $5,000 in cash; this was reduced to $3,000 on November 25, 2013, and then restored to $5,000 in Season 32. The winning contestant spins the wheel (after handing Pat the Wild Card should he/she possess it in safety) and whatever wedge is landed on, that's the envelope the contestant must take. Rarely, Pat would reveal where the $100,000 envelope was, but when the Million Dollar Envelope is involved, but not landed on, Pat always reveals where it is regardless of the outcome. There is an unstated rule that if the wedge with the $100,000/$1,000,000 is landed on two days in a row (i.e. $100,000 wedge was on S in SPIN on the first day, and the second day's contestant also lands SPIN in S), the contestant won't be playing for $100,000/$1,000,000.
The bonus wheel is sparkling with cash and prizes!
Main Bonus Round[]

Once the prize is chosen, the puzzle is revealed and the contestant is given six letters to start, which are consonants R, S, T, L, N, and vowel E. After all instances of those letters are revealed, he/she is asked to give three more consonants (four if he/she has the Wild Card) and one more vowel; originally he/she was asked to give five consonants and one vowel which was usually the six letters previously mentioned, which probably led to the current rules from October 3, 1988. Once his/her letters are revealed, the contestant has 10 seconds (15 with the original rules) to solve the puzzle and is always told to talk it out. Since Season 30, a timer is put on what looks like a picture frame around the contestant.

Returning Champions[]

In the daytime version, champions could stay on the show for up to five days (later three). In Bob Goen's first show, three new contestants appeared despite the winner of Rolf Benirschke's last show not winning three games. The syndicated version features no returning champions, as it is currently said to be a "Once in a Lifetime" opportunity; although from Seasons 7 to 13, this version used the same champion system from the daytime version. In Seasons 14 and 15, the show used a format called the Friday Finals, where the three highest-scoring players from Monday through Thursday (regardless if they reached the bonus round initially) returned on Friday to play again; if the winner of the Friday show won the Bonus Round, he/she won an extra prize package. Beginning on February 7, 1997, the Jackpot started at $10,000 on Friday. At the start of Season 16, the show returned to the one-and-done format (along with retiring the Jackpot's $10,000 base value).

Celebrity Wheel of Fortune[]

In 2021, ABC premiered a series of Celebrity shows (called Celebrity Wheel of Fortune or as Sajak would call it Celebrity Wheel of Fortune: Primetime), where it mainly features celebrities playing for their favorite charities. The house minimum for any celebrity is $30,000. On May 13, 2021; it has been announced by Deadline[1]that the show has been renewed for a second season along with the 2020 reboot of Supermarket Sweep hosted by Leslie Jones who was also a contestant in the first season of CWOF. In season 1, eight episodes were produced while in season 2, thirteen episodes will be produced.

Each week, three celebrities play two games, giving them each a chance at over $2,000,000. What makes these games different from the civilian games is that in addition to the money they bank for solving a puzzle, the star who solves the puzzle first will also get a bonus. Round 1 is worth a $5,000 bonus, Round 2 offers another $10,000 for solving the puzzle, and Round 3 nets the celebrity who solves the puzzle a $20,000 bonus. The $10,000 puzzles are also home viewer puzzles; when each one is solved, home viewers (mainly Wheel Watchers Club members) write down the solutions and submit them to the website, and win $10,000 for themselves.

The first game is played in three rounds and the second game is played to time (just like in the daytime and syndicated shows).

Other Differences[]

  • The little object used for spinning the wheel is gold instead of white.
  • There's no Free Play or other special wedges, no Wild Card on the wheel, and only cash is involved.
  • The three puzzles in the Triple Toss-Up are worth $5,000 each, for a total of $15,000. Unlike Season 39 of the syndicated show, there is no bonus for solving all three in one turn.
  • For the last two rounds, the wheel has four Million Dollar Wedges (all regular size, no tiny Bankrupts on either side). While the rules for these wedges remain the same, only one wedge is allowed per celebrity; once a celebrity claims a wedge, the rest/remaining become(s) (a) $1,000 wedge(s) for him/her. The wedges go out of play when a Speed-Up Round comes up.
  • Currently, because of COVID-19 there is no audience in the studio.
  • In Season 2, the Speed-Up Round rules from Season 39 of the syndicated daily show apply here: whoever's in control of the Wheel at the time gives the Final Spin.
  • In the bonus round, there are four $100,000 envelopes. If the celebrity wins the game and has a Million Dollar Wedge in his/her possession, one of the $100K envelopes is taken out and the million dollar envelope takes its place.
  • Unlike the regular show, confetti does not go off if $100,000 is won. However, as seen in teasers, it does goes off if the Million is won.

First Million Dollar Winner[]

On the fourth episode of Season 2, Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains it All, Sabrina the Teenage Witch) became the first celebrity Million Dollar Winner. Her bonus category was "Food and Drink" and her puzzle was "Bran Muffin".

List of Celebrities:[]

Season 1 (24 Celebrities)[]

Leslie Jones
Chandra Wilson
Tony Hawk
Alfonso Ribeiro
Drew Carey
Paul Reubens
Rob Riggle
Joe Tessitore
Jeannie Mai
Rachael Leigh Cook
Kevin Nealon
Sherri Shepherd
Maria Menounos
Constance Zimmer
Yvette Nicole Brown
Patton Oswalt
Jennie Garth
Chrissy Metz
Teri Hatcher
Karamo Brown
Robert Herjavec
Chris Harrison
Joel McHale
Nicole Byer

Season 2 (39 Celebrities)[]

Jason Alexander
Tatyana Ali
Anthony Anderson
Tituss Burgess
Cheryl Burke
Brooke Burns
Mario Cantone
Lacey Chabert
Laverne Cox
Marcia Cross
Joey Fatone
Vivica A. Fox
Jeff Garlin
Anthony Michael Hall
Melissa Joan Hart
John Michael Higgins
Vanilla Ice
Tara Lipinski
Loni Love
Von Miller
Michael Mizanin (a.k.a. "The Miz")
Wanya Morris
Jason Mraz
Haley Joel Osment
Donny Osmond
James Pickens Jr.
Caroline Rhea
Andy Richter
Amber Riley
Tori Spelling
Shawn Stockman
Curtis Stone
Jodie Sweetin
Raven-Symoné
Karl-Anthony Towns
Michelle Trachtenberg
Nia Vardalos
Johnny Weir
Ali Wentworth

Trivia[]

The original pilot for Wheel of Fortune was called Shopper's Bazaar in 1973 and was hosted by Chuck Woolery. It featured altered rules, a vertical wheel without a Bankrupt, and a flimsy motorized puzzle board. They were all scrapped in favor of the more traditional rules, a horizontal wheel, a hand-operated puzzle board, and the addition of hostess Susan Stafford.

Wheel of Fortune started as a replacement show for the now-canceled original version of Jeopardy! after the latter had 11 years on the air, though it was supposed to be on the air for one more year according to Merv Griffin's contract (the other show canceled and replaced at that time was the short-lived Bob Stewart production Winning Streak), but it quickly grew into a daytime phenomenon and it even spawned a nighttime version of the show. Because of Wheel’s nighttime success, Griffin decided it was time to revive Jeopardy! (for the second time), this time in primetime syndication and pairing it with Wheel.

At one time, the daytime Wheel of Fortune was almost canceled by NBC. Its near cancellation angered fans who started writing in to the show asking them "Will it be canceled?" However, during the final segment of the episode that aired on June 20, 1980, Chuck cleared up the rumors and announced to the viewers that the show was not canceled and it lived another day (or in this case, many more years). The shows that got the ax were Hollywood Squares, The New High Rollers, and Bill Cullen's Chain Reaction, all in favor of a 90-minute talk show hosted by none other than David Letterman. As it turned out, it was Letterman's show that got canceled after a mere six months, but in 1982 Letterman was given a standard 60-minute late-night talk show which would soon move to CBS in 1993 and stayed there until 2015 who is now succeeded by Stephen Colbert as of which his late-night talk show called The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiered on September 8, 2015. The canceled morning show was replaced by Las Vegas Gambit and Bill Cullen's second 1980 show, Blockbusters.

The game is available as a BigJon's PC version, featuring entertainer iKing in Pat Sajak's place as host.

Chuck's last show was during a Christmas special, Pat's first show was during a Teen Week, and Vanna's first show was during a Philadelphia week.

Tim Brando auditioned to be the host of the daytime version of the show after Pat left to host his own late night talk show on CBS. Brando did a test show, but he was later replaced by Rolf Benirschke.

Occasionally, puzzles to which a famous person or people was the answer would come to life. It would do so by having the subject of the puzzle come out from behind. Such notable guests are Jane Pauley of the Today Show, legendary actress Debbie Reynolds (both during Wheel's first time in Radio City Music Hall), The Oak Ridge Boys, Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Rosie O'Donnell (she made an appearance days after the new electronic puzzle board made its debut).

As of 2013, the record for the most instances of a single letter (vowel or consonant) is 11. And that letter is "M" for the puzzle answer: "SUMMERTIME SUMMERTIME SUM SUM SUMMERTIME". The contestant who called it won $11,000 @ $1,000/letter via a Mystery Wedge and of course went on to solve the puzzle and win the round. It was tied in 2021 on the first episode of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, with 11 "A"s in the puzzle "KARMA KARMA KARMA KARMA KARMA CHAMELEON".

The second-most instances of a single letter (vowel or consonant) are 10. And that letter is "T". The contestant who called it won $10,000 @ $1,000/letter via a Mystery Wedge.

On November 4, 2018, Trish Suhr hosted Cover Story: Wheel of Fortune – Greatest Moments.

Pat sometimes nicknames the bonus round, “Bonus Land.”

Spoilers for promo before the start of the broadcast are severe, but recently, there are cases where there are open spoilers in the weeks when the $100,000 or $1M winner is announced. This seems to have been done for noise marketing because it has been less popular recently.

The Puzzleboard[]

For the first 22 years of existence, the show used a mechanical puzzle board that had Trillons that had to be turned by hand. A letter would light up whenever it was called. Vanna White had to wait for the letter to light up before turning, while Susan did not have to wait for the letter to light up. The old puzzle board originally had thirty-nine Trillons on three rows, but in 1981, a fourth row was added, expanding to forty-eight trillons, to make room for larger puzzles.

The puzzle board was meant to be automatic (and thus, no hostess), but the mechanism was not completed before taping started and Susan Stafford was hired to turn the letters in the Edd Byrnes pilots (albeit opposite to how they were turned in the series).

On February 21, 1997, the old puzzle board was retired, the last puzzle on the old board was "POUND SIGN" which was not solved, and at the end of that day's show which was taping in Arizona at the time, Vanna did one last turning and revealed the letters in "FOR SALE".

The following Monday, February 24, 1997, back in their normal studios at Culver City, a new 52-screen electronic puzzle board was revealed to the viewing audience. On this puzzle board, Vanna touches the letters instead of turning them. But the new board can be remotely controlled to reveal letters or solutions (as is done in toss-up rounds). When the right letter is called, a monitor turns blue allowing Vanna to touch on the right side for that letter to appear. When it first premiered, the lines of the board were black blending into the monitor borders; quickly they changed to green. It even made taping go faster because before that time with the old board, puzzles were loaded in by hand causing taping to slow down. The first puzzle on the new board was "VALENCIA SPAIN".

April Fools Day[]

1997[]

In 1997 a few months after the new puzzle board made its debut, the show had a special April Fools Day show in which Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek did the hosting duties while Pat Sajak's wife Lesly Sajak did the letter touching instead of Vanna. This is all because Pat and Vanna played the game themselves for charity (in the bonus round, they played for $25,000) and Vanna was pregnant at the time with her first of several children. Johnny Gilbert introduced Alex and Pat and Vanna while Charlie O'Donnell took over the rest of the announcing duties.

2008[]

Pat played a nasty joke on Vanna when he revealed that he was bald after Vanna took his hair off. A later episode revealed the April Fools Day joke was just that, a joke. For a behind, the scenes clip showed how the prank was pulled.

2010[]

WOF April Fool!.png

For this episode, 10 things were supposed to be not right with this episode. Viewers could go to the official website and download a checklist to see if they could find all 10 mistakes. Here is the mini-site with the checklist and the answers. Here is a video with all the answers.

  1. Pat and Vanna appeared walking in opposite positions upon entering the studio.
  2. Charlie, Vanna, and Pat were at the players' podiums when Pat walked in to greets the players.
  3. Vanna standing on the left-hand side of the puzzle board.
  4. The normal-size Bankrupt wedges were misspelled as "Bankrut" during the entire game. The wedges hidden under the mystery wedge and by the Million Dollar wedge were unchanged. Actually, "Bankrut" is Polish for Bankrupt, and Pat's family is Polish-American. Additionally, the "Bankrut" wedge could also be seen in the Polish version of Wheel as Kolo Fortuny.
  5. Pat had an earring in his right ear.
  6. Charlie O'Donnell was standing by the puzzle board when it appeared instead of Vanna.
  7. A clip from a circa 1992–1995 episode was shown when Pat makes a final spin. It was a Teen Week episode from 1995 (specifically, the Season 13 premiere). Pat said the show was in 1992, but it was actually in 1995.
  8. Pat wore a different suit.
  9. Pat and Vanna were part of the audience behind the people the winner is describing before spinning the bonus wheel.
  10. Pat and Vanna wore name tags during the final segment of the show.

Other out of the ordinary things not covered are:

  • One of the scenes in the opening had a rodeo competition scattered amongst the Hawaiian scenes.
  • There was a different scenery behind Pat.
  • The winning contestant was not introducing the people from left to right.

Solution Pics[]

1.) Host Switch
2.) Charlie, Vanna, and Pat as Contestants
3.) Left Standing Vanna
4.) Bankrupt
5.) Pat wears an earring
6.) Charlie O'White?
7.) 1992 "Final Spin" Clip
8.) Pat's Different Suit
9.) Pat and Vanna in the Studio Audience
10.) Pat and Vanna wearing Contestant Name Tags

Vanna For a Day[]

Congratulations Katie C..png

On January 5, 2011, Wheel of Fortune started a contest that gave female viewers, some male viewers, and fans of Vanna a chance to be "Vanna for a Day". The sending in of videos ended on the 18th of the same month. After days of searching through videos and entries, the search whittled down to five finalists. Viewers were asked to visit the website to vote for who should be "Vanna for a Day". Voting ended February 7, 2011, and the winner was announced on the 24th of the same month. The winner of the contest was Katie Cantrell of Savannah, GA; her appearance was televised on March 24, 2011.

Phone Wheel Games[]

Phone Wheel of Fortune[]

In 1991, there was a "short-lived" 900 number phone game for which you could win a daily prize of over $500 in cash plus a "Super Family Savings Book" worth over $500 in valuable discounts every time you called the number on your TV. All you had to do was solve five puzzles in the fastest time (you were also allowed to use a notepad and pencil to help); then punch in the missing letter on your touch-tone phone (i.e. If one the categories was "PLACE" and one of the five puzzles read out "P_RIS", then you would punch in the number 2 on your touch-tone phone's keypad to get the solution "PARIS"; the letter A is on the 2 key). You could play the game 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was $1.95 a minute while the average call was 5 minutes. Touch-tone phones were used only and you had to be least 18 years or older to play. The commercials for Phone WOF featured former CBS/NBC Daytime Wheel host Bob Goen promoting the game.

NOTE: It was held from an unknown point through March 31.

Wheel_of_Fortune_commercial

Wheel of Fortune commercial

Wheel of Fortune by Phone[]

Wheel of Fortune By Phone.png

In the same year, it was also renamed as Wheel of Fortune by Phone, but was still playing the same way as before, except the daily cash prize was dropped to $100.

Wheel of Fortune Live![]

Wheel of Fortune Live! was created by Alan Katz and PS Productions, Chicago which was sponsored by GSN and typically went to fairs and arenas. PS Productions went into a three-year agreement with Sony and King World, while affiliates carrying the TV show and various retailers which stipulated a six-month tour of the top 60 markets beginning in May of 1996 although other articles about the tour in 1996 reported start date of June or July. (NOTE: The live stage show is known to have continued through at least December 23-29, 1999 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.)

MichaelBurgerWheelLive.jpg
WOFLive!.png

Wheelmobile[]

The "Wheelmobile" is a 39 feet long, 13 feet high and bright yellow vehicle, that rolls through cities throughout the United States. Wherever it stops, huge crowds are waiting. It's giving fans from all over the country the chance to try out for America's favorite game show. The "Wheelmobile" serves as the preliminary screening process before the final contestant audition for the program, and it's brought to you by UnitedHealthcare.

International Versions[]

Countries that have done their versions of Wheel of Fortune include:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium (Dutch language only)
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada (French language only) (The American edition is airing on NTV, CHEK, YesTV, and CHCH)
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece and Cyprus
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Lithuania
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

NOTES:
Swedish model Victoria Silvstedt has appeared as a co-host in both the French (La Roue de la Fortune/Wheel of Fortune) and Italian (La Routa Della Fortuna/The Wheel of Fortune) versions respectively in 2006-12 and 2007-09 along with having a similar logo and designs of the set.
In the 2018 Chilean version La Ruleta de la Suerte (The Wheel of Luck) airing on Canal 13 (Channel 13) it had a male letter turner instead of a female letter turner who's name is Yair Juri while the hostess was Diana Bolocco, it was canceled in 2019 after one season.
In the 2020 Belgian version called Het Rad (The Wheel) hosted by Peter Van De Veire, it doesn't have a permanent female letter toucher at all and is the one and only international version to do so. Instead, it has a BV (A Well-Known Flemming) as a guest "typesetter" (both men and women) in every episode.
In the 2021 Argentinian version La Ruleta de tus Suenos (The Roulette of Your Dreams) airing on America TV also had a male letter turner instead of a female letter turner who's name is Lucas Loccisano while the hostess was Pamela Davis.

Rating[]

72px-TV-G icon svg.png

Music[]

Main Cues
Pilot – "Give it One" by Maynard Ferguson

1975–1983 – Alan Thicke

Main – "Big Wheels"
Shopping – "Funky Bridge"

Prize Cues:
"Glorious Sax"
"Hula Buns"
"Luke's Dinner"
"Lusherous"
"Morning Sun"
"Prize Guitar"
"Rackety-Sax"
"Shavings" (Later used as the main on Blank Check)
"Sleigh Ride" by Leroy Anderson

1983–1989 – Merv Griffin and Mort Lindsey

Main – "Changing Keys"
Shopping – "Nightwalk" (Previously used as the bumper on the 1983 pilot of Jeopardy!)
Vanna White Intro (Mid-Late 80's) – "I'm a Wheel Watcher" by R. Killette and W. Pittman (This was basically a parody of a 1968 song called "I'm a Girl Watcher" by The O'Kaysions)

Prize Cues:
"A Time for Tony" (Previously used as a Bonus Round cue on Shopper's Bazaar)
"Bossa Man"
"Escape"
"Frisco Disco" (Previously used as the close on the 1978 revival of Jeopardy!)
"Hello, Hello" (Previously used on The Merv Griffin Show)
"I Just Can't Say Goodbye"
"I Remember the Child"
"Living by the Beat" (Previously used as the opening intro of Dance Fever in 1985)
"Struttin' on Sunset"

1989–1992 – by Merv Griffin and Mort Lindsey
Car Prize - "Buzzword" (also used as a theme to the unsold pilot of the same name in 1986 and was later remixed as theme for Merv Griffin's Crosswords)

1992–1994 – by Merv Griffin
1994–1997 – by Merv Griffin and Mort Lindsey

1997–2000 – by Steve Kaplan
Commercial – "Sitcom Pop" by Network Music Ensemble

Road Theme - "Maximum Drive" by Network Music Ensemble

2000–2002 – "Happy Wheels" by Steve Kaplan (an added reference to "Changing Keys" at beginning of closing theme)

2002–2006 – by Steve Kaplan (2000 theme remixed)

2006–2016 – by Frankie Blue

2007-2016 - 25th Anniversary opening theme by John Hoke

2017–2021 – "I Defy You" by John Hoke

2021-Present (Celebrity Wheel of Fortune) – by Bleeding Fingers Music

2021-present - “Changing Keys” by John Hoke

From 1983 to 1989, the main theme had a piano and soprano saxophone.

From 1989 to 1992, the theme song's speed went down by 5 and was re-orchestrated, using saxophones, jazz electric guitars, and percussion.

From 1992 to 1994, the theme song's speed went down by 2 and was remixed, now using electric guitars in overdrive.

From 1994 to 1997, the theme song's speed went up by 5 and was played differently from the theme songs from 1983 to 1994. It now featured a big band.

From 1997 to 2000, the theme song's speed went up by 5 and featured electric guitars and a lighter "big band".

From 2000 to 2002, "Happy Wheels" replaced "Changing Keys" as the main theme song. The original version had the same sound like the 1997–2000 "Changing Keys" in terms of the orchestration. There was an opening version of this theme as well as a closing version, both respectively using different introductions. The closing version also included a reference to "Changing Keys". Sometime in 2001, the opening theme was remixed to include an electric guitar track.

From 2002 to 2006, the theme song was slightly re-orchestrated to include saxophone licks. The opening theme was the same as in 2000.

From 2006 to 2016, the theme song played differently from the ones used 2000-2006, and the reference to "Changing Keys" was removed. During Season 24 only, there was an opening version of the theme with its speed up by 3.

From 2007 to 2016, an electric guitar-driven theme was used in the introduction.

From 2017 to 2021, an entirely new theme has replaced "Happy Wheels" and the rock-based opening theme, and its speed went up by 6. During Seasons 37 and 38, an electric guitar track is added to the opening theme.

In 2021 only, on the first season Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, the 2017 theme is done by an orchestra.

From 2021 onward, "Changing Keys" has been revived as the show's main theme, also being done by an orchestra and a slightly different version of "Changing Keys" is used for the second season of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.

The sound effects from this show have been used on shows prior, and reused on other shows as well.

The buzzer used before 1989 is the generic NBC buzzer, also used on other NBC game shows such as High Rollers.

The sound effect for a clue puzzle was also originally from the 1987 version of High Rollers when someone rolled doubles (albeit shortened.)

The old "only vowels left" sound was also used on Trivia Trap for locking in an answer in the Trivia Ladder segment.

The double buzzer for time running out in the bonus round was also used on On The Cover for a wrong answer.

The letter light up sound was reused on StarFace as the sound for a correct response.

Inventor[]

Merv Griffin – he based the game off Hangman, which he played a lot as a child. The wheel itself is based on Roulette, which means "Wheel" in French. The show itself should not be confused with the casino game of the same name that is often referred to as the Big 6 wheel that involves betting on dollar bills.

Studios[]

NBC Studios, Burbank, CA (1975–1989)
CBS Television City, Hollywood, CA (1989–1995)
Sony Studios, Culver City, CA (1995–Present)

Other versions[]

Shopper's Bazaar – The original unaired Wheel of Fortune pilot from 1973.
Wheel 2000 – (also known as Wheel of Fortune 2000) a short-lived kids' version that originally aired Saturday mornings on CBS from 1997 to 1998.
E! True Hollywood Story: Wheel of Fortune - a documentary episode that aired on in E! in 2003.
Cover Story: Wheel of Fortune – Greatest Moments - an episode of the series that shares the greatest moments of the show's history that aired on GSN in 2018.
Celebrity Wheel of Fortune - an all-star-infused primetime spinoff that airs on ABC as part of Winter Fun & Games in 2021.

Additional Pages[]

Galleries[]

To see pictures of the many styles of logos over the years click here.
To see press photos & screenshots of the show over the years click here.
To see drawings of the many styles of the parts of the set over the years click here.
To see drawings of wedges and the many styles of them over the years click here.
To see videos of the show over the years click here.
To see weeks of the show over the years click here.
To see timelines of the show over the years click here.
To see timelines of the show jinx click here.

Links[]

Official Site
ABC Site
Official Sony Pictures Interactive page
Official CBS Television Distribution page
Official Facebook page
Official Twitter account
David Livingston's Original Daytime Wheel Page
David Livingston's Bob Goen Daytime Wheel Page
Mandel Illegan's Classic Wheel Page
GSN Wheel of Fortune Slots

Color Kinetics[]

Color Kinetics Wins Big on Wheel of Fortune|Live Design News
COLOR KINETICS SOLVES LIGHTING PUZZLE ON WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Color Kinetics Showcase: Wheel of Fortune

YouTube[]

Official YouTube channel
Official CBS Television Distribution YouTube channel

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