Article by Jason Welch
For a lot of us in the “over 50” club, there are fond memories of television game shows. Programs like Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune have been around for years and continue to remain popular. Many of you might remember evenings at home watching these shows with family and trying to play along however you could.
The last few decades have also been particularly enjoyable for fans of these types of shows. As NBC recently proved with the (relatively) successful launch of its new big-prize game show, The Wall, there’s still an appetite for this material with mainstream audiences. And it wasn’t that long ago that we were all enjoying a fresh wave of wonderful 21st century game shows.
Here’s a look back at the ones that have stood out since the turn of the millennium.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
While there are plenty who would dispute its place in the context of all game shows, it’s difficult to argue that there’s been a bigger hit in the 21st century. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which started in 1999, was a primetime smash and seemed to capture the attention (and adoration) of a massive audience. The show was so popular that old favourite episodes are still being written about, as game show fans lament the lack of a similar programme today!
Deal Or No Deal
Deal Or No Deal was another 21st century success and is probably the most modern show on this list as it is still (sort of) running in the UK. It ended up inspiring imitations in countries all over the world, and always seemed to entertain us with ease. While there was no trivia to play along with, unlike many of the best game shows, there was something fascinating about its unique game type. Much of it was based on chance, but it was always fun to dispute the contestants’ decisions of whether or not to take the banker’s offer.
The Weakest Link
The Weakest Link, which ran on BBC until 2012, was almost a sort of combination of Millionaire and Deal Or No Deal, in that it involved both trivia and decisions of when to “bank” prize money. However, while it was known for the harsh dismissals host Anne Robinson doled out to contestants, and for the trivia that audiences could play along with, there were actually complex strategic considerations involved in the banking decisions. These included never banking if the team is answering more than 82 percent of questions correctly, and making sure to save the money if they’re answering less than 70 percent right. This extra layer of strategy made it one of the deepest or most dynamic of the 21st century game show hits.
We’re fudging the rules a bit by including Double Dare for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it mostly ran during the 1990s, but wrapped up in 2000 and had a sort of follow-up imitation in the years after. For another, it was largely marketed as a kids’ show. But that’s just the thing! If you happened to have children in the late-’90s or early-2000s, Double Dare was a treasure—a goofy kids’ programme with elements of a fun, traditional game show.
And then there’s Jeopardy!, which is still running and still hosted by the one and only Alex Trebek. The format is still the same. We’re still talking about record streaks, and for a lot of people the show feels like a piece of home or family. For many of us, it’s a show we grew up on and is still the best game show of the 21st century.