Look Out Below: 4 Ridiculous Game Shows With Plummeting Contestants

Game shows have a long, checkered past of shoving contestants down holes, under water, and into pits, but ABC's newest pickup adds to that list with great gusto: In Downfall, contestants who miss trivia questions may have to fall off a skyscraper, perhaps with the aid of a bungee cord. (Shame on Donald Trump for not thinking of this brand promotion first.) In honor of the new show, let's revisit four not-so-classic game shows where contestants plunged into despair and often took our tolerance with them.


This 1981-82 dud featured the gentlest "falling" conceit in game show history: If you didn't remember where the "pitfall passes" were located in a light show diagram presented before the bonus round, you could fall into one of eight pits in your path across a bridge towards victory. If you were trapped in a pit (via slow-moving elevator), Alex Trebek grilled you with general knowledge questions. Trebek later suffered the greatest fall, however, as he was never paid for his hosting stint on this series.

The Chair

The Chair was not only the greatest John McEnroe-hosted game show of all time (try and disagree!), it also featured a bizarre, wholly stupid format: Contestants answered multiple-choice questions while losing money for every second they couldn't keep their heartrate under a pre-designated number. The penalty for losing all your money? You remain in the chair as it descends into hell.

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  • I love over the top competitions...It is amazing that the relatively straightforward show Jeopardy! has been around so long...According to Wikipedia it started in 1964.

  • wakeupboys says:

    Why do you think Russian Roulette is ridiculous? I love seeing that fat guy falling into the revolver chamber. It's just so funny! LOL

  • Keith says:

    I was in a dunking booth (the non-witch variety) once as a kid.
    I didn't have to answer multiple-choice questions while sitting there, but the anticipation was loads of fun.

  • hhh says:

    @Pinder, she was the host of Dog Eat Dog.

  • Florence and the Machines totally wrecked the Video Music Awards! Dog Days Are Over is quite an amazing song and it is much better than the songs played on the radio today.