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The most influential TV game shows of all-time

We highlight three game shows that raised the bar and changed the TV landscape.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Credit: ITV

Ever since the world’s first-ever gameshow, Truth or Consequences, was broadcast on CBS in 1941, the genre has become a cultural juggernaut. Today, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of game shows on the air at any one time, each attracting millions of viewers and giving out increasingly ostentatious prizes in the race to attract the most eyeballs.

Many might say that the so-called ‘Golden Age of Game Shows’, which is largely described as having coincided with the Golden Age of Television in the late 1950s to early 1960s, represented the peak of the genre. However, the clear and tangible influence of many game shows that have been released since then shows that the game show is still a powerful, hugely influential cultural medium. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the most influential game shows of all time.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

The legacy of WWTBAM, which was first broadcast in 1998, is all the more apparent given how recent this game show was released compared to similarly influential shows. Audiences were immediately drawn to the potential of becoming a millionaire overnight, something that none of its peers could offer at the time. Since that first broadcast, the show has spawned several video games, a best-selling board game, and more recently, a critically-acclaimed TV drama called Quiz, which explores one of the most infamous scandals in game show history.

Wheel of Fortune


Wheel of Fortune US has had over 7000 episodes broadcast since it first aired in 1975, while the current host, Pat Sajak, is now the world’s longest-running game show host. Across all continents, WoF’s legacy continues to be felt, with countless spin-off shows, parodies, and video games. It is also one of the earliest game shows to ever be adapted into video game format, with Nintendo releasing a home version of the game for their NES all the way back in 1987. One more recent example of Wheel of Fortune’s influence can be seen on LeoVegas: Crazy Time Live, an online live casino title in which players can win real cash bonuses by spinning the wheel on live stream. The legacy of WoF is a testament to the power that a simple yet engaging concept can have.

The Price is Right

The Price is Right is, by some measures, one of the most widely-adopted game shows in the whole world. Since first being created in the US in 1956, it is now estimated that local versions of the show have been broadcast in over 50 countries. In addition, close to two dozen TPIR board games have been produced during the show’s existence, as well as video games on PC, Wii, Xbox, Playstation, and mobile. The show has also been parodied countless times, with hit TV shows such as Saturday Night Live, Family Guy, The Simpsons, and Mad TV all using the show’s price-guessing format to make fun of popular figures, current events, and, of course, the cost of living.

 

These shows highlight how significant game shows are as a medium, and why their cultural influence deserves to be appreciated.

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