The longevity and success of Wheel of Fortune has provided plenty of opportunity for various shows to make parodies or have their characters make appearances on Wheel as part of a (sub)plot. Oddly, there do not appear to be any instances of either before 1984.
- 1 Parodies
- 1.1 Animaniacs
- 1.2 Betty and Me
- 1.3 Bloom County
- 1.4 The Chimp Channel
- 1.5 Cracked
- 1.6 Family Guy
- 1.7 FoxTrot
- 1.8 Full House
- 1.9 Gravity Falls
- 1.10 In Living Color
- 1.11 It's Garry Shandling's Show
- 1.12 MAD
- 1.13 Mad TV
- 1.14 Mighty Max
- 1.15 The Onion
- 1.16 On the Television
- 1.17 Oscar
- 1.18 Pinky and the Brain
- 1.19 Pookie Poo
- 1.20 The Rainy Day Numbers Show
- 1.21 Rocko's Modern Life
- 1.22 Sale of the Century
- 1.23 Santa Barbara
- 1.24 Saturday Night Live
- 1.25 Sesame Street
- 1.26 The Simpsons
- 1.27 So Random!
- 1.28 South Park
- 1.29 Studio C
- 1.30 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
- 1.31 Super Mario World
- 1.32 Tosh.0
- 1.33 "Vanna, Pick Me a Letter"
- 1.34 You Can't Do That On Television
- 2 Appearances
At the end of many episodes, Yakko brings out the Wheel of Morality. As he spins it, he says "Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn. Tell us the lesson that we should learn." The 12-wedge Wheel has two pegs side by side at the edges of each space, white spaces with red numbers from 1 to 8 (representing the morals), a green Bankrupt, a yellow Lose A Turn, a light-blue $5,000, and a pink Trip to Tahiti space. At the end of one of the Wheel's appearances (possibly its first), Wakko asks if he can buy a vowel only for Yakko to tell him that "Uhhhhh...wrong show."
According to one source, the penalty wedges, 7, and 8 were never landed on, but $5,000 and Trip to Tahiti were each hit once. When they were landed on, the Warners would shout in unison "WE WON! WE WON! WE WON! WE WON!"
Betty and Me
Issue #160 of this Archie spinoff (August 1987) has a parody called Wheel of Loot. Archie is the host and Betty is the letter-turner, and Veronica is a contestant.
The Sunday, March 15, 1987 strip of Bloom County features Opus the Penguin watching an episode of the show and turning into an eggplant.
The Chimp Channel
A show that ran on TBS involving, unsurprisingly, monkeys. Notably, one player tries to solve without spinning (which is normally allowed), although "Pat" tells her that she has to spin.
The satire magazine, a longtime rival to Mad, featured a Wheel parody in Issue #222 (September 1986). Titled Squeeeal of Fortune!, written by Joe Catalano and illustrated by John Reiner, the parody features "Jack Saypat" and "Voida Witt" presiding over a celebrity edition played by "Dr. Wuth Weisenhimer" (Ruth Westhimer), "Dip Snydely" (Dee Snider), and "Nerv Griffun" (Merv Griffin).
"Alright, Peter, you made it to the Bonus Round. Congratulations." "Thanks, Regis."
Probably one of the more beloved examples, "I Take Thee Quagmire" (aired March 12, 2006) began at the Bonus Round with Peter Griffin. With the category of Actor & Show, Peter chooses Z, 4, three Q's, and the Batman symbol; he then solves the puzzle (ALEX KARRAS IN WEBSTER) anyway, much to the host's shock.
With $1,300, Peter goes shopping (complete with insert over a pan of the prizes and the 1984 "Changing Keys" theme) – buying the ceramic Dalmatian ($600), a week of maid service ($250, which leads into the plot), and a hat rack ($400); with $50 left, he asks how much the fat guy in the circle is.
"That's you." "Oh-oh, embarrassing. Okay, well in that case I'll take the rest on a gift certificate."
Another parody consisted of a brief cutaway to a puzzle designed to make the viewer think something vulgar, but quickly realize that it couldn't possibly be that due to the shown letters; the solved puzzle was GO TUCK YOURSELF IN, and reference is made to an earlier puzzle of MY HAIRY AUNT.
"Jason, your father needs help with his homework." "Mom, I'm watching "Wheel"."
The May 17, 1988 strip has Jason watching the daytime show while his mother tries to get him to help his father with the computer. Amusingly, the dialogue and puzzle board shot from the TV date the Wheel episode to between August 1980 and December 1981: the host uses Chuck Woolery's "One, two, three of them!" style, the puzzle board has three lines, and Jack Clark is mentioned by name. The puzzle, OBSEQUIOUS OPAQUE SQUID, is solved with just the Q's.
Much later, the October 5, 2008 strip has Jason hacking into the show's puzzle database, and the puzzle ends up being PAIGE FOX IS UGLY, prompting Paige to call the show. Jason tells her "I'll let you do the next one."
The episode "The Test" (aired January 11, 1994) had Vanna White appearing as part of a dream sequence in DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure)'s classroom, where she takes the SAT.
While DJ studies in her room, her best friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber) watches Wheel and yells the title chant along with the TV. There is a brief shot of the TV showing Vanna standing next to a puzzle as the 1992 "Changing Keys" theme plays, after which DJ turns it off as it is distracting her while trying to study. Kimmy protests, "We can learn a lot from Vanna. She knows where every letter on that board is."
In the dream sequence, as DJ tries to take the test, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) and Rebecca "Becky" Katsopolis (Lori Loughlin), the hosts of the in-universe local daytime TV program Wake Up, San Francisco, enter the classroom with the rest of the family and a camera crew to broadcast DJ taking the SAT live on their show. The proctor announces that time has expired and the tests will be graded immediately. Danny then introduces Vanna ("The queen of consonants, the vixen of vowels"), who enters the classroom to the 1992 "Changing Keys" theme as she twirls around (much like she did when she was introduced separately from Pat) in front of the applauding students. A starstruck Kimmy approaches Vanna and asks, "Do you get paid by the letter?" Vanna replies that she gets the money from vowel purchases (sometimes "even the Y"). DJ's uncle Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) also approaches Vanna and compliments her hair as the reason he bought a large-screen TV. Vanna thanks him and says, "If my hair has made a difference in one person's life, it's all been worth it." Kimmy's SAT is graded with a perfect score, and a world map rises to reveal a miniature, three-row trilon puzzle board. Vanna turns the trilons which spell STANFORD, and congratulates Kimmy on winning a full scholarship there. DJ's test is then graded, and is told that she answered every question wrong. Vanna turns the eight STANFORD trilons again, revealing that DJ will be going to "CLOWN_U_".
When DJ takes the test for real, Vanna enters the classroom, to DJ's horror, only to reveal that she is a teacher named Mrs. Moffat. When DJ expresses nervousness, Vanna's character ends the episode by giving DJ the same thing her family had been telling her: "It's just a test."
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to..."Cash Wheel"!"
The episode "Boss Mabel" (aired February 13, 2013) had a spoof called "Cash Wheel", which Grunkle Stan frequently watches. He also appeared as a contestant on the show.
In Living Color
"Hello, and welcome to "Wheel of Dozens"! Where talkin' trash can get you cash, so when the Wheel's turnin', it's yo' momma we're burnin'!"
A sketch from the final season (aired December 30, 1993), hosted by "Stu Dunfey", had a Wheel consisting of "Yo' Momma" phrases (i.e., "Yo' Momma's So Ugly") that players completed for $100 per diss; filling the role of penalty spaces were "positive" comments (i.e., "Yo' Momma's So Beautiful").
The game ended in a tie, so the winners played a "Lightning Round" where they alternated spouting disses to Mother Teresa.
It's Garry Shandling's Show
On the debut episode of this Showtime sitcom, "The Day Garry Moved In" (September 10, 1986), Shandling's character moves into a condo previously owned by Vanna White. At one point, he fantasizes about an episode of Wheel where a contestant calls R and solves I STOLE GARRY SHANDLING'S FURNITURE, then goes shopping in a showcase of said furniture.
While Vanna appears in the sequence, Pat Sajak does not; in his place is an off-screen host who is only heard. Also, a re-creation of the set is used.
Issue #266 (October 1986) of the long-running humor and satire magazine features a parody of Wheel titled We'll Make a Fortune, written by Dick DeBartolo (a longtime MAD contributor who has also written for several Goodson-Todman game shows, most notably Match Game) and drawn by Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman. Pat, Vanna, and Jack are caricatured as "Pat Somejerk", "Vanilla Wipe", and "Jerk Clark" respectively. After Pat berates the contestants and forces the Wheel to stop at random, contestant Tom solves I'LL NEVER GUESS IT unintentionally, and proceeds to buy a pack of Life Savers, a styrofoam chest, a pail and shovel, and swimwear from J. C. Penney. Mary solves the second puzzle, CAVEAT EMPTOR, which also leads to "Vanilla" revealing several non-English letters and symbols before Mary purchases a showcase of office supplies. Tom wins the game, but discovers that combined with his previous day's winnings, he owes $1,180 in taxes, and "couldn't even sell these lousy prizes for one-tenth that amount". This leads to a "special IRS game for contestants who can't afford the taxes on the prizes they win on game shows", known as the "Wheel of Foreclosure". Pat asks him to spin a special wheel, to determine whether his house, car, business, furniture, or savings account are foreclosed on.
Issue #411 also featured the show in an installment of the then-recurring comic feature Monroe and... (drawn by Bill Wray and written by Anthony Barbieri), a comic about the eponymous teenager boy and misadventures that he has with his family. The installment, Monroe and... the Great American Road Trip, Part 3, is the conclusion of a story arc involving Monroe, his parents, and his grandfather taking a road trip to California. Monroe is stopped by a contestant coordinator who casts him on the spot for a "kid week", declaring him to be "just the kind of sad sack pathetic player inbred Middle America can relate to". Monroe, after being berated by Pat for thinking that W is a vowel, unintentionally solves I JUST CAN'T GET A BREAK and wins a trip to "Monkey Island", but loses the game and is hauled offstage. The story concludes with him and his family taking the trip.
Parodied on three different occasions:
- February 9, 2002: It's Celebrity Couples Week! The three couples competing are Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar; Will Smith and Jada Pinkett; and Kenny Rogers and a girl he met at a bus stop named Ginger as a replacement for his wife Wanda, who couldn't make it. The first puzzle is Famous Love Songs, and Rogers makes the first spin, hitting top dollar of $1,500. Ginger calls a V, of which there is one on the board; after Vanna reveals it, Rogers thinks she is a witch. Pat interprets his accusations as an incorrect attempt to solve the puzzle, so play moves to Gellar, who spins and lands on the Prize wedge (a $930 home barbecue system). Prinze repeats the V, thinking that they were "hiding some". On to Smith, who hits Lose A Turn but Pinkett encourages him to spin again; he does so, only to land on Bankrupt. With control back to the blue team, Rogers spins $500. Ginger immediately asks to solve, and correctly does so with LOVE ME TENDER. After the remaining letters light up, Rogers again accuses Vanna of being a witch and chases her around the set as Pat casually throws to commercial. Throughout the skit, Rogers, in a drunken state, believes he's on every game show (by saying various catchphrases from Family Feud, Hollywood Squares, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire) except the one he's actually on.
- November 15, 2003: It's Government Worker Week! The contestants are Debbie Jane, a DMV photographer; Stanley, a monument bird feces remover (played by guest star David Arquette); and Louis, a congressional light bulb changer. The show has returned from a mid-round break. The category is Quotation, and the puzzle reads GIVE ME LIBERT_ OR GIVE ME DEATH. With Debbie Jane in control, she mis-solves with LIBERTO; Stanley asks to buy a "continent", to which Pat tells him that only vowels can be bought, though Stanley doesn't exactly know what a vowel is. Pat reminds him that vowels are A, E, I, O, U, and emphasizes "sometimes Y" while pointing to the single blank spot remaining on the board. Stanley spins the Wheel and, after a very long spin, lands on $700 (although the camera accidentally shows Louis' arrow landing on $500). He asks to solve, and provides the same incorrect solution as Debbie Jane did. Louis spins the Wheel, which Pat impatiently stops after a few seconds; Louis lands on $1,250, and confidently asks for F. Back to Debbie Jane, who solves incorrectly once again with LIBERTU. A sound effect signals the Final Spin, to which Pat simply moves the Wheel without letting go. After Stanley calls two letters which are already on the board, he mis-solves with LIVERY; Pat asks if he said "Liberty", which Stanley denies. Louis passes his turn, as do Debbie Jane and Stanley. With Pat getting rather angry, he decides to have Vanna just reveal the last letter, and whoever says the answer first will be declared the winner. The last letter is revealed as a happy face, to which Stanley claims he solved with that solution earlier (GIVE ME LIBERT☺ OR GIVE ME DEATH) and a dumbfounded Pat is aware of. The show cuts to a test card which reads "DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULT_, WHEEL OF FORTUNE WILL N☺T BE SEEN. PLEASE STAND B_."
- November 12, 2005: The show begins with Pat saying that he's been hosting the show for 60 years and stopped caring 58 years ago (implying a setting of 2041-42 and that he stopped caring when the nighttime show debuted). The three contestants enter and Pat appears lovestruck by the blue contestant named Lexi Von Cannon (guest star Pamela Anderson). Pat cuts short the introductions for the other players (homemaker Faye Schnantz and high school teacher Aubrey Simelle) and asks Lexi to start the game. Faye tells him that she won the toss backstage, but he dismisses her and tells Lexi to spin while announcing the first puzzle as a Famous Person. Lexi's spin lands on Lose A Turn, but Pat stops Faye from spinning and tells Lexi to spin again. Pat begins rigging the game in her favor, much to the other contestants' anger – as Lexi calls obscure consonants, Pat tells Vanna to light up most of the consonants in the puzzle. With the puzzle board showing _BR_H_M L_N__LN, Lexi solves the puzzle as MADONNA and, despite the buzzer sounding, Pat rules her correct. The skit ends with Pat and the other two contestants spinning the Wheel as Lexi lies down on it, much to Vanna's shock.
In the fourth episode of the cartoon series' second season ("The Missing Linked"), Virgil, one of Max's sidekicks (Norman being the other), sends Max a message that appears on Max's TV as he watches a Wheel-like game show where a contestant is seen solving a puzzle. The puzzle (and message, for that matter) was MIGHTY MAX GO TO 4TH & ELM.
The long-running satirical newspaper/website has run several stories about Wheel.
December 16, 1998
Wheel, having exhausted its supply of "normal" puzzles, has received permission from the FCC to use profanities and other objectionable language. Producer Robert Reynolds (possibly meant to be a parallel to Steve Schwartz and/or Harry Friedman) is quoted as saying that "Twenty-three years of daily broadcasts have depleted us of every last familiar, non-offensive phrase. I mean, last night we were doing puzzles like PYRRHIC VICTORY and MORE TO BE PITIED THAN CENSURED, and nobody could guess them."
The article then gives examples of several NSFW puzzles, including a Before & After.
May 22, 2008
Notes that the cost of vowels on the show has increased to $600, with showrunner Charlie Clark stating that the cost is unlikely to come down unless America improves its standing in the Middle East.
A contestant is quoted as saying "We need a legitimate vowel alternative, but I don't think we're ready for that. I know I'm not." Free Play debuted just over a year later.
October 9, 2009
Not so much a parody, but still notable: a TV listing for Wheel hurls a profanity at the contestant who gave a wrong answer to the puzzle WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR TREK on September 22.
On the Television
One sketch done sometime during the 1989-90 period was "Wheel of Misfortune", created by a slightly alternate Merv Griffin. While the "roulette meets hangman" concept is mostly the same, some parts are taken very literally, and the clip shown indicates that this Merv was using the puzzles as commentary (in this case, an opinion of Donald Trump).
The Amiga CD32 and MS-DOS versions of the 1993 platform video game Oscar have a level called GameShow Level, with "Game Show" displayed as one word. The level is filled with elements based off of popular game shows, particularly Wheel of Fortune. In addition, the level's background music on the Amiga CD32 version appears to be loosely based off of the show's Changing Keys theme.
Pinky and the Brain
In an episode, Pinky sees "Wheel of Misfortune" on a television.
"Say hello, Vanity." "Hello, Vanity."
An obscure Flash cartoon series from the late 1990s parodied Wheel (starring Saint Patjack and Vanity White) and other games, with the eponymous character bringing his attitude to each.
The Wheel layout seems to be somewhat based on early nighttime episodes, albeit with two $1,000 wedges plus $650 and $950; in addition, "Loose A Turn" is red. The puzzle, FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT (Famous Sayings), is accidentally solved by Pookie while he threatens to hurt Patjack.
The Rainy Day Numbers Show
"If you're ready to start today's game, nod your head "Yes"!"
A "Golden Step Ahead" video from 1986 had a parody called "Count on Fortune", hosted by Bob Bunny (portrayed by Jumpin' Jack Rabbit; a spoof of Bob Barker) and Vanna Lamb (portrayed by Lamb) with a chick named Henrietta (played by Meggie) and Ralph Raccoon (played by Rock Raccoon) as contestants. The cash values on the Wheel are replaced by the numbers from 1-9, dubbed "The Wheel of Numbers", while the puzzles are replaced with math problems. To begin the game, the players spin the wheel. The player with the highest number went first.
The first round's question decides which set is greater. The second round is called addition, where to answer the questions the contestants must add two sets together to make a new set. There were three questions in this round.
The final round had contestants spin the wheel to determine the winner of the game. Each player spins the wheel twice, with the highest number winning the game. Henrietta and Ralph each spun a total of 4, resulting in a tie game. Each won a pair of matching hat racks and a lifetime supply of pet toads (courtesy of Al E. Gator's Used Numbers).
Rocko's Modern Life
In the episode "Heff in a Handbasket," Heffer goes on a game show called Triple 6. The last game is Wheel of Fortune. Heffer spins the wheel and guesses the puzzle BIG FAT COW while the wheel is still spinning.
Sale of the Century
The 1983-89 daytime revival hosted by Jim Perry had at least one parody: on Episode #1543 (January 19, 1989; Jackie/Ray/Philly), the first Instant Bargain had a less-than-subtle parody of Vanna with the prize backdrop resembling the Wheel turntable.
Despite being among USA's package when the cable network aired Sale from 1992-94, this moment appears to have flown under the radar until GSN first aired the episode on May 15, 2013.
On an episode aired May 12, 1988, a kid plays a version of the game, in which a kid fills in the blank with black letters, just like in the show itself. Interestingly, a kid watches an episode of a show as a dream sequence.
Saturday Night Live
"A dermatologist would deal with this on a daily basis."
The most likely candidate for multiple entries on this list (Wheel debuted January 6, 1975; NBC's Saturday Night debuted October 11) is not known to have done any such sketches prior to 2006.
May 6, 2006
Guest starring Tom Hanks as Pat. Amusingly, it uses the 1983 "Changing Keys" despite the song as a whole being absent from Wheel for nearly six years.
The show returns from break with the puzzle board reading BY THE S__N OF OUR TEETH (Phrase). Donna elects to buy the I, after which Pat does the Final Spin that lands on $600. Donna accidentally mis-solves with SPIN, realizing her mistake afterward; play goes to Kenny, who also mis-solves with SHIN despite the H's already being present. Marjorie also mis-solves, albeit even worse as she says SMILES.
Back to Donna, who mis-solves with CHIN. Kenny then asks to buy a number, then a vowel: U, which is already on the board; he then tries to solve with SUIN, which is wrong as well. Marjorie mis-solves with BY THE SOCK OF MY FEET, after which Donna gets the proper missing word (SKIN) but with MY FEET at the end.
Pat figures that the players are nervous, and asks them to take a few deep breaths and look carefully at the puzzle board, then goes back to Donna. All three players pass for two cycles, which leads Pat to give a hint (see above); all three players begin shouting out answers, none of which even fit the puzzle. Pat realizes that the players simply aren't bright, but points out that neither is Vanna, and look at her career!
Vanna reveals the K, and the contestants seem to finally understand the puzzle...or not, as they think it has to do with lips. Pat gets them into a group hug, telling them that "If I were the old me, your stupidity would have sent me into a violent rage, and Vanna knows what I'm talking about. But today, I just feel sorry for you..."
The players, however, do not understand that they are being insulted, and when they do understand claim that "You insulted us by the skin of our teeth." This leads Pat to tear up his card and decide to quit, and the players chant "We! Are! Horses!" as he walks offscreen.
April 6, 2013
A parody simply called "Million Dollar Wheel", with guest host Melissa McCarthy as a replacement hostess who has less than no idea of her purpose.
Interestingly, the Wheel layout uses $650, $850, and $950.
"Give the pig a spin!"
A parody called "Squeal of Fortune" hosted by Pat Playjacks (the world's nicest game show host) and Velma Blank, with Count von Count and Prairie Dawn as contestants. The money and puzzles are replaced by a single pig, and before spinning the Wheel the player must guess how many times it will squeal; Count von Count wins, but upon seeing his choice of prizes (including a larger-than-life portrait of Playjacks himself, grapefruit goggles, and a barrel of industrial-strength gray-green finger paint) he opts to take the pig instead.
After this, an eel comes along to ask Pat if the game is called "Eel of Fortune".
In the episode "Homer Defined" (aired October 17, 1991) the residents at Springfield Castle are watching TV when they turn the channel from a news bulletin (about a potentially life-threatening crisis at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant) to a channel which has not pre-empted regular programming ... and the show is Wheel. There, a contestant missolves the puzzle THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (by saying "LOINS" instead of coins).
Near the beginning of the episode "Brother from the Same Planet" (aired February 4, 1993), Homer is seen watching Wheel with the puzzle I'M ON MY WAY (Phrase). Marge reminds him to pick up Bart from his soccer game while she leaves the house, but mistakes his solving the puzzle as a response to her.
The puzzle board uses the 1981 border with three lines of 11 trilons each, albeit with four of them in the corners (clearly blocked by the frame); the remaining 29 trilons have a shape and layout that were used much later by ICE for its Wheel games. The category chyron appears to be based on the third Helvetica style, introduced in February or March 1985.
Much later, during the episode "Pranksta Rap" (aired February 13, 2005), at least the logo of the Spanish version Rueda de Fortuna briefly appears while Santa's Little Helper changes channels by barking (he had accidentally swallowed the remote).
The opening sketch of the 2011 premiere was "All-Star Wheel of Fortune" with Fred Figgelhorn (Chad Dylan Cooper, played by Sterling Knight), Taylor Swift (Tawni Hart, played by Tiffany Thornton), and Willow Smith (Nico Harris, played by Brandon Mychal Smith) playing. Unfortunately, the game barely progresses since Fred is obnoxious, Taylor sings about everything, and Willow whips her hair around continuously. The sketch ends with Vanna tearing off part of the puzzle board and smacking Fred unconscious.
Another sketch was "All Magic Students Wheel of Fortune" with Harry Potter (Shayne Zimbo, played by Shayne Topp), Rubeus Hagrid (Grady Mitchell, played by Doug Brochu), Gollum/Smeagol (Damien Johanssen, played by Damien Haa), and the Twilight Trio: Edward Cullen (Matthew Bailey, played by Matthew Scott Montgomery), Bella Swan (Tawni Hart), and Jacob Black (Chad Dylan Cooper).
Zimbo/Topp played Pat Sajak for both skits, as well as Potter in the second skit.
The Wheel used in both skits had numerous $X75 values (yet no $X25 values), two $1000 spaces, a Lose A Turn which was spelled vertically, and even an $850 space, which was mentioned by Fred in the first skit. The Wheel also had three special wedges that varied between skits, the only wedges on the Wheel to do so.
"With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" (aired March 7, 2007) begins with Stan Marsh's dad, Randy, at the Bonus Round; having already been spotted RSTLE plus his choices of BNGO, with the category of People Who Annoy You and $30,000 on the line, he is very reluctant to say the only thing he can think of (a racial epithet) but still mis-solves NAGGERS (with the A missing), shocking the nation and beginning the plot.
Season 9, Episode 10 of the BYUtv sketch comedy show features the segment "Worst Wheel of Fortune Player Ever!" Jason Gray plays Pat, Natalie Madsen plays Vanna, and and Adam Berg, Tori Pence, and Jason Gray play contestants of the same name. The segment consists of a highlight reel of contestant Adam's behavior throughout the episode. Among these are repeatedly giving wrong answers to the Toss-Ups; guessing PNEUMONIA on an answer ending in F; trying twice to move the Wheel after spinning it; repeatedly guessing M after being told that there is not one in the puzzle NOSY NEIGHBOR; guessing T, 7, 9, and The Screwtape Letters when asked for a vowel; incorrectly solving THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN as THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAX before phrasing his answer in the form of a question, and then after being told "This isn't Jeopardy!", saying "I'll take The Amazing Spider-Max for $300". At the end of the segment, Adam has made it to the Bonus Round with the Million-Dollar Wedge, where he guesses three M's and a 9 for his three more consonants and a vowel and then says "I have no idea", which happens to be the correct answer.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
A spoof called "Wheel of Misfortune" appears in the animated episode "On Her Majesty's Sewer Service" (October 10, 1989).
Super Mario World
In the episode "Rock TV" (November 16, 1991), Bowser/King Koopa's flashback of a trip to Earth includes either Wheel or a parody of it, as part of his remembering how television can put people in a near-vegetative state. Interestingly, the puzzle shown (DUH) is an ironic example of a hard puzzle.
The episode as a whole was essentially a commentary on television addiction, as the FCC had enacted the Children's Television Act the previous year.
The November 18, 2014 episode of the Comedy Central original series featured a "Web Redemption" sketch with April 11, 2014 contestant Julian Batts. Series host Daniel Tosh shows clips of Julian's gameplay while joking about the show, then begins a skit based on the show. Tosh, playing the role of host, recruits Julian as a contestant for a highly-exaggerated version of the show against "Katie" and "Lenny".
The 23-wedge Wheel has gag wedges such as "Lose 1,000 Turns", "Tongue kiss any audience member", an iPod speaker dock, "Give the host $20", a hoagie, $666, and $0. "Vanna" is a skeleton who collapses halfway through the round and is replaced by a more attractive busty model. Julian ultimately solves the puzzle, which contains an obscenity, for $48,030,010.97.
Julian is given "The game show you are on right now" as his Bonus Round category; given RSTLNE plus WHFO, he guesses "WHEEL OF FORTANE", causing Tosh to utter two more obscenities before declaring that Julian has won the actual prize envelope. The spoof features digitally-inserted stills of the set and puzzle board.
"Vanna, Pick Me a Letter"
"I've just got to win, spin the Wheel again..."
A 1986 song by "Dr. Dave" (David Kolin) which was released on TSR Records #852 and frequently heard on The Dr. Demento Show. A parody of "The Letter" by The Box Tops, it describes a contestant on Wheel and mentions Bankrupt, Lose A Turn, the Final Spin chimes, the Bonus Round, the home game, and shopping. The song ends with the singer/contestant expressing shock at the fact that a black-and-white 5" portable TV set costs $500. ("You got ripped off, man.")
A partial rewrite of the song, believed to have been performed by Greg Barnhill, was used in a 1987 Wheel promo for CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans. The ad includes footage from several early Season 4 episodes (one of which has the third sunburst backdrops), plus an answer of NEW ORLEANS being revealed.
You Can't Do That On Television
A very brief parody was one of the many "pre-emption" cards used at the top of the show: in this case, the episode "Luck" (1986) used "The Wheel of Fortune Runs Over People and Flattens Them".
Note that some of these appear from time to time in syndication or on cable networks.
"Over $100,000 worth of prizes, today on this special neighbors version of "Wheel of Fortune"! And now, let's meet our host: Pat Sajak!"
The Season 2 premiere "Wheel of Misfortune" (aired October 4, 1986) had Sandra Clark (Jackée Harry) and neighbor Mary Jenkins (Marla Gibbs) competing on a "neighbors edition" of nighttime Wheel against each other and a fisherman named Rusty. In Round 1 (Title), Sandra calls an M, which is not in the puzzle, and Mary hits Lose A Turn. Rusty then spins $1,000 and calls a Z; despite derision from his opponents, there is a Z in the puzzle (THE PRISONER OF ZENDA), which he immediately solves.
Later, in Round 3, Mary tries to solve the Thing puzzle with $19,750 but says SANTA FE TRAIL (a Place) instead of the actual answer, SANTA FE TRAIN. Rusty ends up shutting-out the women.
The Wheel uses the tan and lime green $900 wedges temporarily used at this point on the actual show. Also present are the third sunburst backdrops and post-"walls" setup, despite not being on the actual show at this point (a nighttime episode aired the week of October 13 still has the 1984 walls and sunbursts).
"Wheel of Fortune" (aired January 14, 1986) begins during Round 3 on the daytime show, with H.M. Murdock (Dwight Schultz) spinning the Wheel a few times (oddly, despite the first spin landing on the $750 next to Bankrupt, the very next shot shows his flipper on the $600 next to the other Bankrupt) and solving ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR (Phrase) for $6,500 and a grand total of over $28,000. With the $6,500, Murdock buys a humidor with 50 cigars ($150), a solar-powered buffer and a year's supply of Reptile car wax ($250), a waterbed ($1,800), and a two-week trip for two to Hawaii ($4,250) with the remaining $50 on a gift certificate. Pat then mentions that Murdock will return in two weeks to play a Super Challenge Match (later referred to as "Championship Playoffs") for prizes beginning at $12,000.
The episode wraps by returning to Wheel for a Bonus Round with Murdock, playing for a new Mazda truck. With the category of Place and choices of TSLCDE, he solves SOUTH AMERICA just ahead of the buzzer.
Notably, this Wheel appearance is one of only two known instances with then-announcer Jack Clark (the other being the 227 episode above) and the only known time the shopping element is actually used despite the turntable appearing several other times. "Frisco Disco" plays while Jack describes Murdoch's prizes.
As far as is known, the show never actually held a Super Challenge Match, although the All Star Dream Machine Championship (1976) would probably be the closest. Pat's comments suggest that the Bonus Round was temporarily dropped for the weeks leading up to the Super Challenge Match.
Jack is credited as himself in the end credits, as are Murdoch's opponents, but no credits are given for either Pat or Vanna.
Fresh Off the Boat
The Season 4 premiere "B as in Best Friends" features Jessica and Honey competing on the show during a Best Friends Week in 1997. It is said that the taping would be in Orlando, although the segments were filmed on the actual current set at Sony Pictures Studios.
To help resemble the 1997 era, the scoreboards were changed to resemble eggcrate displays (albeit inaccurately, as scores were centered instead of right-justified, and scores of no money were displayed as "$0" rather than remaining blank). Also, the September 21, 2015-March 29, 2019 bare Wheel layout was used, though Free Play was removed and replaced with a yellow $400 wedge, a Free Spin token was placed on the blue $550 (the only removable gameplay element present), and $2500 was used as the top value in all seen rounds. Some behind-the-scenes photos also show a blue $300 replacing the blue $600 (as was the case in Seasons 30-31), though the actual episode uses the latter. The 1997 "Changing Keys" theme and puzzle solve cue are used as well, and the category strip resembles that of the era.
In Round 1, Jessica solves a Before & After puzzle DENZEL WASHINGTON D.C. immediately after spinning, after which Pat interviews them. In a later round with a Song Lyrics puzzle (which did not debut on the actual show until 2001), Honey buys O, despite Jessica's protest that "vowels are a waste of money", and eleven O's are revealed in the puzzle (to which Pat comments, "That's the hardest Vanna's ever worked in her life"). Jessica solves OO OO OO I WANNA BE LIKE YOU OO OO for $350, and Pat also mentions they've won a trip to Cozumel, similar to the actual show's Prize Puzzles.
The 1992 Tyco board game also makes an appearance in the episode. While said version's box is used, the game contents are from the Pressman games of the era. The duo uses the game to practice before their appearance, with Honey mis-solving the Thing puzzle BIRTHDAY CARD as BIRTHDAY CAKE.
Gimme A Break!
"The Big Apple" (aired February 16, 1984) begins with Nell Harper (Nell Carter) and Adelaide "Addy" Wilson (Telma Hopkins) discussing Wheel, then going on a "Friends Day" edition of the daytime show. With $7,600, Nell mis-solves the Quotation puzzle GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH, but Addy solves correctly for $2,400; the remainder of the episode involves a trip to New York which Addy purchases.
The set has the white light-up trees, while the Wheel layout has $1,000 along with $1,500 and $2,000. The concept of friends playing on Wheel would later become (Teen) Best Friends Week.
Being its sister show, it should be no surprise that Jeopardy! has referenced and used elements from Wheel:
- On October 1, 1985, the then-current theme "Changing Keys" was used for an Audio Daily Double. Amusingly, the contestant who played it started to bebop to the tune before giving the correct response.
- On June 8, 1987, a Double Jeopardy! category was devoted to the show.
- On February 1, 1988, the logo for La Roue de la Fortune was used for a Video Daily Double, with the clue mentioning that it was one of the top TV shows in Paris.
- On April 1, 2016, as an April Fools joke, the puzzle reveal chimes sounded when the contestant in control hit the second Daily Double in the Double Jeopardy! round; then the Bankrupt slide whistle sounded upon the deduction of money after an incorrect Final Jeopardy! response.
- Several times, the Wheel puzzle board has been used for categories: a partially-revealed puzzle is shown while Alex Trebek reads the clue, with the correct response revealed on the puzzle board as well.
- Late 1995: Following a "Costumes" category involving Vanna, a clip was shown of her next to the 1995-97 puzzle board, reading YOU'RE WELCOME ALEX! Despite this, there is no known record of Wheel using exclamation points on the show itself until May 13, 2004, and a puzzle of JEOPARDY PREMIERES in September or October 1995 (shortly after the 1995-97 board debuted) did not use one.
- The second was on October 4, 2001, with the category titled as "WHEEL OF JEOPARDY!" (using an exclamation point), complete with a custom-recorded chant. Unlike the other games, the correct responses were not shown.
- The third was on April 25, 2007, during a Double Jeopardy! round whose categories were names of tarot cards (and indeed, the sixth category was "Touring the Tarot Deck").
- The fourth was on December 12, 2007, with the second category being "Wheel of Women".
- For the "Wheel of Movie Taglines" category on May 10, 2012, each clue was the tagline for a movie and each correct response was the movie itself. None of the puzzles used more than two lines, and some puzzles were center-justified instead of left-justified.
- For the "I'd Like to Solve the Puzzle...Fast!" category on April 23, 2013, each clue was shown normally but the correct response was revealed as if the puzzle had been solved on Wheel (i.e., the remaining letters were quickly filled in).
- On May 7, 2014 (Battle of the Decades Quarterfinal #3), "Wheel of Jeopardy!" was used as a Double Jeopardy! category, though unlike the 2001 appearance there was no video illustrating the category nor was there a chant.
Other times, Pat and Vanna have been featured giving clues:
- When both shows taped at New York City's Madison Square Garden in Fall 1999, on one episode (November 16, 1999) Vanna shopped at Christian Dior and gave a clue about Elizabeth Taylor wearing a Dior gown when she won her first Oscar for BUtterfield 8.
- January 4, 2000: Bob Goen gave a clue about Edd Byrnes for a "TV Pilots" category, mentioning both of their connections to Wheel in the process. Perhaps coincidentally, the episode aired two days before Wheel's 25th Anniversary.
- February 2, 2012: Vanna demonstrated a clue about "planking" in front of the puzzle board.
- For the "World Cities" category on April 2, 2013, Vanna gave the $800 clue about Ocho Rios in Jamaica; the clue itself was most likely taped while Wheel was taping the Sandals Resort Week shows, as the resort is located in Jamaica.
- On July 1, 2013, the first category of the game was "Armed Forces Radio with Pat Sajak". Appropriately, Pat's voice was recorded and each clue was displayed as normal.
Goen also played on Rock & Roll Jeopardy! (September 18, 1999) for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Chicago, during which his Wheel connection was mentioned.
Just Shoot Me!
A clip from a show appeared on an episode "A&E Biography: Nina Van Horn" (aired May 9, 2000). A contestant decided to solve the puzzle, which is NINA VAN HORN, the character from the series. A fictional contestant from the answer says the answer, in which the word "Horn" is mispronounced, just ahead of the buzzer. We then cut to an interview with the real series' host Pat Sajak. Interestingly, the sequence was filmed at Sony Pictures Studios, while the rest of the series were taped at CBS Studio Center.
The King of Queens
"Inner Tube" (aired February 26, 2001) features Doug Heffernan (Kevin James) having several television-themed nightmares after lying to his wife Carrie (Leah Remini). At one point, Doug dreams that he is the blue contestant on an episode of Wheel, playing against his father-in-law Arthur Spooner (Jerry Lewis) and Carrie. Humorously, Arthur has a score of $666, Carrie has $3,500, and Doug only has $1. The puzzle is DOUG HEFFERNAN IS A BIG FAT LIAR with only the R's missing. Arthur, having just spun $450, asks for a 4, only for Pat to tell him, "We only take letters." He then tries an H, but it is already in the puzzle (unlike the actual show, he is not penalized for this). Arthur gets buzzed out and play passes to Carrie. She spins $600, and asks immediately to solve the puzzle (which would not be allowed on the actual show). Doug panics and runs over to the board to try to prevent Carrie from solving the Phrase by touching the board monitors, which upsets Vanna. Carrie wonders if Doug lied to her, and the dream ends. Pat and Vanna appeared as themselves, and the scene was filmed on the actual set. The video wall used the backdrops that would later be seen on Season 18's Retro Week (April 9-13, 2001). Interestingly, the scene, as with the rest of The King of Queens, was filmed in 16:9 widescreen, while Wheel would not do so for another five years.
"What did Shakespeare say, "kill all the downtown lawyers"?"
"Vowel Play" (aired November 29, 1990) is the only known example involving a host that is not Pat or a parody of him. Instead, the subplot involves Bob Goen, Vanna, and Charlie O'Donnell (his only known appearance of this type).
Following the "previously on..." recap, a daytime Wheel episode begins complete with "From Television City in Hollywood..." opening spiel. Round 1 (Phrase) is played with the Rounds 4+ Wheel layout, and continues until Douglas Brackman Jr. (Alan Rachins) solves BALD IS BEAUTIFUL. The L.A. Law opening begins right afterward.
Brackman has a 1-day total of $11,000 cash plus a dinette set. At a future taping, he proceeds to hit on Vanna, even offering reservations for dinner. He's promptly turned down due to FCC regulations, but after his reign is over she visits the firm and even offers to have lunch. She returns in "God Rest Ye Murray Gentlemen" (December 13, 1990) for the firm's Christmas party as Brackman's date.
While it is not known precisely when the Wheel segment was taped, the presence of the seven-digit contestant displays puts it somewhere after the taping of the July 23, 1990 show. Interestingly, one element of this segment is a camera shot of the players applauding while the Wheel spins, despite the fact that it had already stopped its automation; the shot was adopted on Wheel upon its return to NBC on January 14, 1991, with the logo dropped from that shot around February (resulting in an exact match to the one seen in L.A. Law).
The Late Show with David Letterman
A circa-1994 episode had the puzzle "SISKEL AND EBERT" classified as Famous Pair, a category that has never been used on the show.
The December 30, 1998 episode had Wheel in a "Last Time in '98" bit.
The September 16, 2002 episode of Wheel had a Jackpot round puzzle (Who Is It?) of HE'S DAVID LETTERMAN'S ORCHESTRA LEADER, to which the answer to the bonus question was Paul Shaffer.
On Letterman's final episode (May 20, 2015), Pat appears in a pre-taped segment from the Wheel studio and says it's time for the third Toss-Up (although the graphic shown is for the $1,000 one), to which a contestant solves GOOD RIDDANCE TO DAVID LETTERMAN with only two letters showing. The contestant's scoreboard then shows $1,000, which is not what the third Toss-Up winner receives.
"...and one that embraces change."
A 2008 series of commercials for the car company's then-new line of hybrid models showed various places the letter "H" vacated in favor of the car models' tags. One of these was Wheel, using the then-current set and a puzzle of _APPY BIRT_DAY. Neither Pat nor Vanna are present, their positions blocked from view by a staff member and another contestant, respectively.
The concept, however, falls flat due to the contestant (Andrea) trying to solve immediately after spinning, a move which is against the rules (although it had been allowed as late as mid-1987) and would hence merit the buzzer that plays afterward. The fact she was African-American resulted in several YouTube users jokingly claiming she said "birfday".
Strangely, unlike other appearances that used the top dollar value, the space Andrea lands on is not $5,000 but rather the nearby blue $600.
Several times, Wheel appeared in a fictional manner in its own promos (officially called "mini-movies") beginning in 1985.
Probably the most famous one begins with a male contestant named Harvey spinning the Wheel during Round 3; after he lands on $5,000, the scene cuts to the aftermath of his appearance: a large parade in his hometown, with one float containing the prizes he had purchased during the game. Harvey's son remarks that "You won all those things too, dad?", after which the scene cuts to Harvey right after solving the bonus puzzle WINNER TAKES ALL and the song mentions how he "reached for it all, and you got it". The parade continues, now showing Vanna on a float with the Wheel used in the 1983 Ohio State Fair shows spinning behind her, and Pat is seen on the sidelines of the parade holding a young girl. Towards the end, Pat says "Dinner at your place, Harv?" before the two-row Wheel logo (believed to be its first use) appears, followed by the tagline "Wheel of Fortune: whose life will it change...tonight?"
According to the 1987 book Wheel of Fortune by David R. Sams and Robert L. Shook, the parade was held in Nelsonville, Ohio on July 6, 1985, with Haskell Wexler hired to direct filming of the event.
Another "mini-movie", made after King World successfully increased its audience of women 18-34 in 1985, begins with a young woman in a bikini relaxing on a boat. A man with a French accent asks her how she got to where she is, to which the scene goes to the woman just after solving the bonus puzzle BOB HOPE, followed by Pat noting that the prize ("the trip of a lifetime") "might just change your life". The promo suggests that winning on Wheel was why she was noticed by the Frenchman, although a few YouTube comments pointed out she didn't need that to be hit on.
Very brief clips of the "Harvey" mini-movie appeared during the ceremonial 3,000th nighttime episode in 1998.
There are two crossover episodes that both aired on May 23, 1988 and May 24, 1988 between the soap and the game show. It involves characters from the soap opera playing on a episode of a game show as contestants. Towards the end of episode #960, it had Gina Lockbridge (Robin Mattson) solving the rather appropriate bonus puzzle BLACKMAIL (Thing, having chosen BKLNRI) just ahead of the buzzer, winning a grand total of $55,700. Her husband, shortly after hugging Vanna, gets pinched by Gina's earring.
It is not certain which version this was intended to be, partly since the Wheel is not seen clearly; the fact that both Santa Barbara and Wheel were on NBC at the time points to the daytime show and a large Jackpot win, but the lack of a stated prize and no shots of center stage suggest the nighttime show and a $25,000 win. No announcer speaks or is shown, which may suggest it having been done after Jack Clark became too ill to continue working.
Vanna appears in a promo for July 14, 1987, with Balki (Bronson Pinchot) and Larry (Mark Linn Baker), and hands them two cards each with a "P" (held by Balki) and an "S" (held by Larry), which are placed on top of each other. The rest of the letters in the show's title are revealed.
The promo ends with Balki asking Vanna "Can I take you out and I'll buy you a vowel?" This causes everyone, including the crew, to burst out laughing.
Ten at 10:00
A promo made during the 2005-06 season for CBS-58 (WDJT-TV Milwaukee)'s newscast, with a contestant solving the puzzle FIRST ALERT WEATHER in the category Ten at 10:00. Pat and Vanna appeared as themselves, and the 1997 "Changing Keys" plays throughout. The audience chant used is similar to the usual, but with a higher-pitched audience.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
In the fourth episode of the Netflix series, "Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!" (March 6, 2015), Lillian (Carol Kane) is seen watching Wheel at one point. No scenes of any gameplay are shown, however.