Wheel of Fortune History Wiki
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Go back to Season 38?

A timeline for Season 39 of Wheel of Fortune, which will air in first-run from September 13, 2021 through June 10, 2022.

Season Changes

  • Due to COVID-19 restrictions still in Los Angeles, various changes from Season 38 carry over to this season including:
    • There is no studio audience other than the other contestants of that taping day.
    • Contestant auditions are still held exclusively online.
    • Contestants still use the White Things to spin.
    • Contestants still place cardboard in a bag behind them if they hit Bankrupt while holding any.
    • Contestants are still not allowed to bring guests.
  • The show is once again open to contestants outside of Los Angeles and surrounding areas, but on a limited basis. Each episode features no more than one contestant from outside such regions.
  • Portions of the Celebrity Wheel of Fortune set are retained, albeit not colored gold. These include the arches behind the puzzle board, and the circular LED logo behind the contestant area (now multicolor), the latter of which now replaces the video wall permanently.
  • The name tags permanently use the font Helvetica Neue Black Condensed, first used sporadically on Season 1 of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and some late Season 38 episodes.
  • The confetti is now only fired for $1,000,000 wins, as is the case on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.
  • The shots of the board are now zoomed in further, cropping the far left and right monitors on the middle two rows on 4:3 screens.
  • The opening features a new animation sequence with a tunnel of golden blocks featuring wedge amounts, both the round and two-row variants of the show's logo, and various pictures of Pat, Vanna, and Jim. Except for the first two weeks, the pictures vary each day of the week.
  • Jim now has a podium at the front of the audience, allowing him to be seen on-camera as he introduces Pat and Vanna. At any other points in the show, he is seen in the booth.
  • "Changing Keys" returns as the theme tune for the first time since Season 17, this time using a re-arrangement of the 1983-94 melody on trumpets, similar in style to the marching band version used on College Weeks in the late 1990s. It is believed that this version is done by Bleeding Fingers Music, who also composed the Celebrity Wheel of Fortune music. However, only John Hoke is credited for music composition.
    • The Toss-Up, Speed-Up, puzzle-solve, and Bonus Round cues are all changed.
    • The toss-up and main game puzzle-solve cues are now renditions of "Changing Keys".
    • The express & final spin cues from the 2017 music package are carried over.
    • Instead of generic music cues, portions of the new theme are used going into commercial breaks.
  • The category strips are redesigned for the first time in 13 years: they now have a 3D look and are an embossed purple-to-blue gradient which "ripples", and the font is changed.
  • Free Play is retired and replaced with a yellow $850, marking that value's first appearance in gameplay since 1979.
  • There is now an overhead shot of the entire Wheel at the start of the Mystery Round.
  • Solving all three of the Triple Toss-Ups now awards a $4,000 bonus, augmenting winnings of that round to $10,000.
  • The "popup" score displays now appear when the Round 3 and 4 puzzles are revealed, and for the first two shots of the puzzle board in Round 3. Their designs are changed again to neon rectangular outlines corresponding to the podium colors, on a dark purple background.
  • Pat no longer does the Final Spin. Instead, the contestant who is in control at the time the Speed-Up bells ring now does the Final Spin, and the value is determined by their own arrow. According to a video on the show's official YouTube channel, this change was made because Pat felt that doing the Final Spin himself allowed him too much influence over the game. Pat states in the video that any "invalid" Final Spins from contestants will be edited out as before.
  • On early episodes of this season, Mike Richards still served as executive producer. However, he resigned from the position on both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! on August 31, Michael Davies temporarily assumes the role on both shows.
  • Presumably due to Richards leaving on bad terms, the running gag of him being credited as "Mike 'Confetti' Richards" on episodes with $100,000 wins is removed on any weekend repeats of such episodes from Season 38.
  • Karen Griffith retired shortly into the season.
  • Pat's daughter Maggie Sajak is now a social media correspondent.
  • Occasionally, an overhead shot will not be used during a spin; this is done frequently enough that it is presumed to be a deliberate choice.
  • The Retro Bonus Round is retired.
  • Early in the season, on ABC affiliates only, Thursday and Friday episodes (plus other days where noted) feature a promo for Season 2 of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune after Round 1, replacing various show-related plugs seen on other affiliates' airings.
  • Except for the first week, the show no longer provides the contestants' full names to Los Angeles Distribution & Broadcasting to ensure correct spelling in the closed captioning. This results in the captions uses guesswork for the spelling of the surnames, resulting in most of them being misspelled or misinterpreted.

September 2021

  • September 13 is Teacher's Week, taped July 22. During this week:
    • Road Scholar sponsors each day's Prize.
    • The Gift Tag is $1,000 cash from Pilot Pens on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and $500 cash and $500 credit to Mrs. Prindable's on Tuesday and Thursday.
    • The Celebrity Wheel of Fortune promo is present on ABC airings of Monday's episode, as well as the September 18 weekend repeat, in addition to Thursday and Friday.
  • On September 13:
    • Wheel does not air on some West Coast ABC affiliates due to Monday Night Football going into overtime.
    • The $4,000 Triple Toss-Up bonus is awarded for the first time.
    • For the first time, the Final Spin is not determined by the red arrow.
  • On September 14:
    • Two males play.
    • For the first time since February 4, none of the contestants are from the Los Angeles area.
  • On September 15:
    • The $1,000 Toss-Up ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION is the first instance since June 2013 of a What Are You Doing? puzzle not using an "-ING" suffix.
    • The "Wheel of Fortune Memories" clip is the "AN UGLY CHILD" incident on April 11, 2002 with the Toss-Up music absent.
  • On September 17, Rounds 2 and 3 are played entirely by the contestants who began them.
  • The week of September 20 is the first week since early Season 14 not to have a theme. During this week:
    • Since there is no theme, the $1,000 Toss-Up is themed either to the show itself, or not at all.
    • The color of the set is randomized, which continues to be the case for all subsequent weeks without a theme.
    • The Celebrity Wheel of Fortune promo is present on ABC airings of Monday's episode, in addition to Thursday and Friday.
  • On September 20:
    • Starting with this episode, the Toss-Up music bed now changes keys every four measures (as with the previous versions) instead of eight. Also, the $2,000 Toss-Up and second Triple Toss-Up have the music cued to start at the first key change. On the third Triple Toss-Up, it starts at the second key change.
    • After Round 1, the Winners Circle segment from the September 11 weekend repeat (on September 14, 2020 contestant Jolena Lomax-Brown) is aired again. As with its first airing, it is replaced with the Celebrity Wheel of Fortune promo on ABC affiliates.
  • On September 20 and 21 only, the opening mix of "Changing Keys" is remixed slightly, with more percussion added, and the opening animation has 10 frames shaved off the beginning.
  • On September 21:
    • The $1,000 Toss-Up's alignment is one space too far to the left, resulting in Vanna needing to reach further than usual to reveal the rightmost letter.
    • Contestant Nicole Ware-Spencer's full name is displayed in the closed captioning as "Nicole [ unclear ] Spencer".
    • Donny Osmond reads part of the Prize copy, a trip to Las Vegas including a meet-and-greet with him. This was likely filmed during the taping of his appearance on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (which was taped June 10, before this episode, but does not air until October 10), as he is wearing the same outfit.
    • None of Same Name, Before & After, Same Letter, or Crossword are used.
  • On September 22:
    • The intro and opening theme revert to the version used during the previous week.
    • The closed captioning misspells contestant Julee's name as "Julie" throughout the episode.
  • On September 23:
    • Round 1 is the first appearance of Star & Role since May 29, 2017.
    • The "Wheel of Fortune Memories" clip is contestant Caitlin solving the Prize Puzzle I'VE GOT A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THIS with only the L revealed on November 5, 2010.
    • One contestant (Aly) wins all five Toss-Ups, and another (Giovanni) wins all other rounds, including the Bonus Round.
  • On September 24:
    • Some non-ABC affiliates accidentally air the version with the Celebrity Wheel of Fortune promo.
    • Contestant Renee solves the Prize Puzzle IT'S TIME TO TAKE A TRIP with only the I's and T's showing.
    • Contestant Jacob finishes third with $10,150.
  • The week of September 27 has no theme.
  • On September 27:
    • Starting with this episode, the intro animation is slightly updated. An orange and yellow gradient background is added to the first shot of the scrolling photos (it previously had no background at all), the beams of colored light along the tiles' sides are now brighter, and the photos now have less contrast, making them appear slightly darker. The photos also begin to change each day of this week, with the photos used up to this episode now only appearing on Mondays.
    • Pat mentions his wife Lesly during the final segment, though the closed captioning misspells her name as "Leslie".
  • On September 28, the show announces that any input will be accepted for the T-Mobile puzzle due to this episode being pre-empted in the New York and Philadelphia markets by the New Jersey Gubernatorial debate.
  • On September 29:
    • The "Wheel of Fortune Memories" clip is contestant Emil solving the bonus puzzle NEW BABY BUGGY with no help from his extra letters on March 19, 2014.
    • The third Triple Toss-Up KITCHEN MAGICIAN (In the Kitchen) is a rare instance of the category also being part of the answer.
  • On September 30, contestant Chris solves the second Triple Toss-Up RULE OF THUMB with only the F showing.

October 2021

  • On October 1, contestant Shweta only spins twice the entire game, hitting Bankrupt in Rounds 2 and 4.
  • The October 2 rerun of the October 19, 2020 episode adds a Winners' Circle segment on $100,000 winner Patrick McIntosh from October 12, 2020 (which reran two weeks prior).
  • October 4 is National Parks week. This is also Michael Davies' first week as executive producer, although Mike Richards is still listed in the credits.
  • On October 4:
    • This episode is moved up from its originally intended air date of the 6th.
    • Contestant Aaliyah finishes second with $21,568.
    • There is a $100,000 loss.
  • On October 5, the Round 2 puzzle GRIZZLY BEARS AND GRIZZLY BEAR CUBS is a rare instance of a puzzle with four Z's in it.
  • On October 6, Pepe the King Prawn joins Pat and Vanna during the closing chat to promote Muppets Haunted Mansion. A clip of the film is also shown where Pat makes a cameo as a one of the singing busts.
  • On October 7:
    • In the Mystery Round, contestant J.R. flips over a Mystery Wedge after filling in the last letter in the puzzle, only for it to conceal a Bankrupt.
    • Footage of Vanna's cat Stella watching a YouTube video of birds is shown during the closing chat.
  • All ten Bonus Rounds are lost on the weeks of September 27 and October 4, part of an eleven-day losing streak starting on the 24th. This is also part of a four-week span beginning on September 20 where only three Bonus Rounds are won.
  • The week of October 11 has no theme. As this week was taped on August 12, Mike Richards still serves as executive producer.
  • On October 11:
    • Contestant Yanneisha finishes second with $19,550.
    • Contestant Michael solves the bonus puzzle FLIPPING OUT despite getting no help from his extra letters.
  • On October 12, the third- and second-place contestants have $11,500 and $15,350 respectively.
  • On October 13:
    • Vanna accidentally walks up to the puzzle when a wrong letter is called in Round 1.
    • The Prize Puzzle THIS PLACE IS BREATHTAKING is one space further to the left than usual.
    • The "Wheel of Fortune Memories" clip is contestant Michelle becoming the very first Million Dollar winner in 2008.
  • On October 14:
    • The Round 2 puzzle WHO ARE YOU? WHO WHO WHO WHO? is the first known puzzle outside of Fill In the Blank to use more than one question mark.
    • Contestant Nate finishes second with $16,400.
    • The "no more vowels" graphic is used in the Speed-Up.
    • The Speed-Up is MY NICKNAME IN HIGH SCHOOL, a running gag that Pat has used since the early 2010s toward certain puzzles with uncommon adjectives.
  • October 18 is Great American Cities. Michael Davies once again serves as executive producer. Despite this, he is still not credited nor is there any credit given for Executive Producer.
  • On October 18:
    • Two males play.
    • Contestant Steve solves the third Triple Toss-Up JELLY BEANS with only the Y showing.
  • On October 20:
    • Rounds 1 and 2 are played entirely by the contestants who began them.
    • The "Wheel of Fortune Memories" clip is Pat giving out free candy to trick-or-treater for Halloween in 2013.
  • On October 21:
    • Contestant Dan solves the third Triple Toss-Up FIRST-AID KIT with only the D showing.
    • Neither Thing nor Phrase is used.
  • On October 22:
    • Contestant Anthone lands on the Mystery Wedge next to Lose A Turn three times in a row without flipping it.
    • Anthone leaves out the first S in the Prize Puzzle TOURISTS AND LOCALS, but it still credited with a correct response. This does not affect the outcome.
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